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Australia: Bendigo, Blue Mountains, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula, Sydney
Mornington Peninsula, Australia: Morning calm… all day long
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
With a mighty ocean to the south and protected bays on either side, the Mornington Peninsula is home to wine, golf courses with ocean views, great beaches and Victoria’s most popular national park. It is indeed the backyard of Melburnians, if I may.
After a hectic busy week in Sydney and Melbourne, it was time to chill. And what could have been better than spending the day driving to and through the peaceful peninsula dotted with rolling hills flanked by mighty waters. My business partner, Mark Luckey, who is based in Melbourne, was kind enough to agreeing to take a day off on a Friday. He was to be the driver and my guide for the day. We would be doing about 300 kilometers.
The weather forecast for Melbourne was bad; showers & hailstorms. But because all marketing folks are optimistic and the weatherman is not, we set out at 7:30AM. The luck was on our side. As we drove out of the city, the weather changed dramatically. Dark clouds were gone. The sun was up. And as this was happening, hailstorm had struck Melbourne!
Thankfully, we were against the traffic, else the morning and the evening rush hour would have added at least an hour and a half to our journey. By 9AM we were at Arthurs Seat, our first stop for the morning.
75 kms. from Melbourne, Arthurs Seat is a hill rising about 305 meters from the sea level. This hill top is a very popular destination to view Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne skyline and the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas. Not to forget the many made attractions including muddling mazes and stunning ornamental gardens. As one drives up, there are many view points. We stopped at the one called Franklin Point.
Our next stop was just 30 minutes drive away – Sorrento. That’s where we will have our ‘breaky’ (Australian for breakfast) and then visit Sorrento’s 2 beautiful bays. The Front Beach and the Back Beach – a surfer’s paradise. Mark is a fitness freak. He is a karate Dan, runs the marathon and is an avid surfer. When travelling with him be prepared to soak in plenty of guilt. As he engages with his high-fibre, low-burning breakfast you will have to have the courage to dig into your high-protein, high cal breakfast. Well, I am a brave man. That Mark can run at terrains where I can barely walk is quite another story.
History has it that in 1803, 30 years before the founding of Melbourne, Sullivan Bay in Sorrento became the site of Victoria's first European settlement. However, due to a lack of fresh water the settlement was short lived and subsequently moved to Hobart in Tasmania. Victoria's first magistrates' court, public hospital, postal service and government printing office were established in Sorrento. The first Victorian wedding, christening and funeral services were also held at Sullivan Bay.
With the history behind us, we spent the next 30 minutes exploring the Front Beach. From there we drove to the Back Beach. Surprisingly the waves were high. Mark cursed himself for not bringing in his surfing gear! Cliffs at the Back Beach are a major attraction. We trekked the cliffs and walked the sands. We also walked up to view point perched high up on the hill. The climb was well worth the efforts. The view from there was truly magnificent. It was 1PM and was time for us to drive towards Point Nepean that was located about 30 minutes away.
Point Nepean is truly one of Victoria's beautiful natural landscapes. It has a rich history and played an important role in shaping the early settlement, quarantine and the defense of Victoria. The park is located at the very tip of the Mornington Peninsula, with outstanding coastal scenery and panoramic views of Bass Strait, the Rip and Port Phillip Bay. Just so know it’s here that Australia’s Prime Minister Harold Holt went missing whist snorkeling.
We parked our car near the Guard House and walked a few hundred meters to the observation point. That’s where we spent the next 30 minutes… enjoying the lovely, sandy beach and the views the point offered. Our next and last stop for the day would be Red Hill – the wine capital of Victoria I can say.
Red Hill is the place where one can criss-cross the hillsides laced with vines and olive groves to meet with local food producers and experience farm-to-table dining. Enjoy a cheese platter at Red Hill Cheeses, a cheeky drop at Red Hill Brewery and intriguing wine bread at Red Hill Bakery. Meet the goats that make the milk that makes the cheese at Main Ridge Dairy. Or hop between conveniently close and welcoming cellar doors to compare Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
Well, we restricted ourselves to enjoying freshly baked bread and a cheese platter with a glass of beer to wash it all. For the sides we had the view of rolling hills, graceful vineyards and blue skies.
We turned back at 4. By 5:30PM we were in Melbourne. The weather had cleared by now. An evening walk around the city did me good to prepare for my early morning flight the next day.
Hooroo. That’s Australian for Goodbye.
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