I’ve spent a lot of time working in Melbourne. But aside from the odd trip to Torquay and Bells Beach, I’ve never experienced a true Melbourne-style weekend away.
I dare suggest few Sydneysiders have thought about the Mornington Peninsula for a mini-break, given it requires a flight, along with a drive through some of Melbourne’s most frustrating traffic — or otherwise a very, very long drive.
But when Women’s Agenda kickstarted a partnership with Beautiful Accommodation, I jumped at the chance to take the family to the Mornington Peninsula to check out some of the accommodation listed on their site. Travelling with two young kids can sometimes feel like an expensive way to see new playgrounds — and I’d heard the playgrounds down that way were superb, and that there would also be plenty of wine on offer.
And we absolutely did discover some excellent playgrounds (and wine), but also a lot more. A bay of crystal clear, still waters on one side, beaches on the other, with gorgeous scenery including wineries and the odd hedge maze in between.
The team at Beautiful Accommodation set us up in a stunning one bedroom apartment at the Lakeside Villas, at the Crittenden Winery.
Quiet, picturesque and big enough for a family of four (or even two couples) with the kids on the sofa bed. One of just three houses overlooking the lake, the kids loved feeding the ducks from the balcony and taking a stroll past the vines.
The place is completely self-sufficient, with a hamper provided on arrival including fresh eggs and bread for a home-cooked brunch, or late night snack. The keyless check in process was also private and fuss-free. Emailed a code prior to arrival, you can simply drive up, punch in the numbers and make yourself at home.
It’s a short walk up to some wine tasting and the award winning Stillwater restaurant. You could spend the entire weekend here, without leaving once.
But the Lakeside Villas are also located just a few minutes drive from the beach, town and shops, and less than 30 minutes from all the best activities on the Mornington Peninsula. Our boys (2 and 4) don’t sit still for long, so we got stuck into a fairly jam-packed itinerary.
Below’s a little sample:
The Peninsula Hot Springs.
This place features 20 pools, heated naturally at 38 to 40 degrees, a couple of which have spectacular views. We hesitated about taking two kids with us but weren’t to worry. We booked online and arrived early (8am) on a Sunday before the crowds kicked in, and when some of the more scenic pools were still open to kids (a number become ‘adults only’ after 10am). While these pools have been designed with serenity in mind, the kids found a theme in each one — the cave pool, the waterfall pool, the pool with buckets on the side. There’s also a private day spa on site, which I’ve vowed to return for, one day. Tickets are pricey, but well worth it — although bring your own towels to avoid getting stung with their heavy rental fees.
The Enchanted Forest
This was the ultimate playground for young kids. We visited on a Monday afternoon and found no lines and very few people in the park. Easy to get around with helpful staff, it boasted a random assortment of different activities. There’s a giant hedge maze, a number of other puzzle features, and the ‘spooky maze’, which sits like a bit of a strange retired relic, unattended, in the corner of the property, but which also happened to be a trip highlight for Mr 4. Tube sliding was also a hit, although prepare to be lugging plenty of tubes up the hill if your kids are too young to pull them up themselves. The ‘tree surfing’ is amazing, and available to kids four and over — a great way for kids and adults to develop confidence with heights and climbing. The gardens are also very beautiful and provide a nice spot for lunch. Just BYO lunch. While there’s a cafe on site (and a lolly store), it was lacking in choice. Check it out here.
Rosebud Foreshore Playground
How amazing is the above park? The best part, of course, it that it’s free! And right next to the water for when you need a rinse off. There are two slides, and some challenging terrain for climbers behind the larger slide pictured here. There was also a fairly long flying fox, but broken when we visited.
Sunnyridge Strawberry Farm
We stopped here after seeing the sign on the side of the road, and we weren’t disappointed.
The kids didn’t have to search or walk far for the perfect strawberries, and took pride in picking their own fruit.. We left with multiple punnets, and found ourselves eating strawberries for eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. See their website.
Checking out the sunrise
I believe you learn a lot about a place by experiencing it at sunrise. The above was taken during a 6am run at Rosebud, the moon on one side, the sun rising on the other. The sky and ocean blending into this gorgeous blue colour. I audibly gasped when I emerged from a busy area to this site. Heaven.
Point Leo surf beach
We ventured to this beach for a paddle following the recommendation of one of our Women’s Agenda contributors, Kristine Ziwica (thank you!). Great waves for the kids and good variety for anyone after a surf, including Crunchie Point for beginners, and Suicide Point (the name says enough) for the more experienced. It’s much quieter and less developed on this side of the Mornington Peninsula. There’s a surf school at Point Leo, as well as a beach kiosk and general store.
Tip: Check opening days for restaurants and various activities, as many are open Thursdays to Sundays. We missed out on a few recommended activities as didn’t plan ahead!
We stayed as a guest of Lakeside Villas at Crittenden, a part of Beautiful Accommodation’s Australian luxury boutique stays collection.