Open for Business in the Peninsula

There is a further easing of restrictions by the Victorian Government beginning on 1st June 2020. You will be able to stay in tourist accommodation like ours! The Dolphin, Starfish and Beach Club cottages now accept bookings. However, the Beach Club communal BBQ and laundry must remain closed.

You can visit the Mornington Peninsula now!

We will continue to update the following list of places which are Open for Business. Social distancing rules still apply, see the Government website for more details.

Public Places & Parks

  • Beaches – Open!
  • Playgrounds and Skateparks – Open!
  • National Parks – Open except for the Point Nepean National Park and its visitor centre.
  • Fishing from boats, piers and beaches – Allowed!
  • Diving from the Rye pier – Allowed! See the popular octopus garden.

Enchanted Adventure Garden

 

Peninsula Hot Springs

  • Bath House bathing and café will re-open from Sunday 7th June 2020 at noon
  • Spa Dreaming Centre bathing, spa and café will re-open  from Friday 12th June 2020
  • Essential information before visiting, advanced booking is necessary, and information on our stay and bath package.
  • What to expect at the reopening of the Hot Springs.
Bathing at the Peninsula Hot Springs
Bathing at the Peninsula Hot Springs

Wineries and Restaurants

Cinema

Dromana 3 Drive In Cinema
Dromana 3 Drive In Cinema

Golf

More to come, please stay tuned!

 

A Perfect Day Around the Bay

The best part of our job is to discover and trial the best travel experience for our guests. Recently we tried a new route visiting both the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsula on the same day. The suggested itinerary below includes our handpicked sites, restaurants, menu suggestions and even wine pairing. We did this not once, but twice to ensure our recommendations can consistently deliver.


The Sorrento-Queenscliff Ferry provides a great way to cross the Port Phillip Bay. Instead of doing the long drive through the congested Melbourne freeways, treat yourselves to amusing wildlife and beautiful landscape.

Viewing deck on the Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry
The front deck on the Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry.

Here is our suggested itinerary to spoil yourself and enjoy the best from both sides of the bay.

1. Wake up at our gorgeous cottages

Family and pet friendly, our cottages are just a short 15 minutes drive to the Sorrento Ferry Terminal.

private courtyard fully fenced
The Beach Club Cottage – 15 mins from the Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry Terminal.

2. Breakfast at the Vanilla Slice Cafe

Enjoy great coffee and the famous Sorrento Vanilla Slice before you cross the bay. If time allows, browse through the art galleries and historical sites around the Sorrento township. The ferry departs on the hour and you are advised to arrive at least 15 mins before. You can also book online, otherwise just queue up and pay at the drive through.

3. Hop aboard the ferry

Boarding the Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry in a car.

You can drive onto the ferry, or leave your car behind. There is parking available at the terminal. The journey takes only 45 minutes while you enjoy the view on the deck or stay warm in their comfy lounge. There is a full service bar in the lounge if you have room after the vanilla slice.

Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry
The Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry connects the Mornington Peninsula and the Bellarine Peninsula.

4. Visit historic Queenscliff

Tour the Fort Queenscliff, lighthouse, and glimpse the old days on The Queenscliff Heritage Walk.

5. Late lunch with a 270 degree view

The Bellarine Peninsula is famous for their mussels, freshly harvested daily. There is no better place to enjoy them than the Jack Rabbit Winery, just 30mins drive from Queenscliff. It offers both indoor and outdoor dining area with the same 270 degree sea view. We have been there multiple times in the last 6 years, and were never disappointed with their food, wine and hospitality. Their mussel recipe changes regularly, we had it in a red wine sauce, creamy parsley sauce, and a Thai fusion sauce with coconut cream before.

Tip: match the mussels with their pinot noir, chardonnay or sauvignon blanc depending on the mussel receipt of the day.

Photo by the Jack Rabbit Winery (actual view at the winery). They are serving sunset dinner until the end of daylight savings on Fridays and Saturdays (ends on the 4-April-2020).

6. Bring home some mussels

Available at good seafood stores around the Bellarine Peninsula, also on the Mornington Peninsula. We like them both and have a great recipe to prepare them.

The Happy Cattle at the Hillock Downs

The Hillock Downs was as large as 1000 acres and it had been used as part of the training grounds for troops in World War 2, they have records going back 100 years. You can get more than fresh meat and vegetables at their produce store. You also learn about their history and the hard work they put in for our safe, delicious food.

Hillock Downs Produce Store
The Hillock Downs produce store occupies what was the old Dairy at the front gate entrance.

Rump steak was often chewy and The Cottage chef normally won’t prepare it as a steak. But at Hillock Downs she found the most tender rump steak ever.

The Hillock Downs cattle are raised and grown locally in Mornington Peninsula, they aren’t feedlot fed and are free to roam open pasture paddocks. They are turning off 450kg to 530kg milk vealer cattle at 9 to 10 months of age. There are no hormones and are antibiotic free.

This means young, tasty, tender beef, and we aren’t consuming antibiotic drugs in any of their meat product. This reduces our fear of introducing superbugs through antibiotics overuse.

Besides farming, owner Eddie volunteers with CFA, protecting the local community from fires. We got some useful tips to make our cottage and BBQ facilities safe during the busy summer season.

The Hillock Downs produce store is opened Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They only sell freshly butchered beef and they call it a day when they’re sold out. It has been popular among the locals. To avoid disappointment, contact them before you go. Sally, a.k.a the farmer’s wife who works at their produce store is very friendly and knowledgeable. She also grows the vegetables sold at her store. Hillock Downs is only a few minutes drive from our cottage. Get some for your BBQ during your stay, or to bring home, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Peninsula Fresh Organics

We aren’t running out of ideas for this subject line nor this is an ad. We aren’t paid to write this. But the name Peninsula Fresh Organics really sums it up, we do believe it is an accurate reflection of their produce and this post.

Staff loads the produce which are always harvested the night before
Staff loading the produce which are always harvested the night before

Fresh? If you aren’t aware until now, the vegetables sold at our regular grocery shops aren’t picked when they are ripe. In facts they are often harvested early to increase their shelf life. They ripen in the trucks and insides their boxes. Many of the favours and nutritions aren’t there. It’s very apparent when you are having them as salad, or making soup or sauces. At Peninsula Fresh Organics they pick the evening before.

Organic? Detox and fasting have been popular habits lately. People become more cautious of what they put into their stomach. I’m very supportive of food science and technologies. They allow food to be grown faster and bigger, solving many crisis. But the unnatural substance introduced do accumulate in our bodies. Instead of detoxing we can simply put less harm in. The higher price of organic produce can be preventive, I admit I cannot afford it every day. However let’s support our farmers occasionally, our bodies will say thank you. The Peninsula Fresh Organics website says that their produce are certified, I ain’t lab technicians but I believe in them.

Delicious? Please try it and we’ll leave the verdict to our readers. The Cottage Chef certainly think so, see her recipe here.

A good place to visit in the Peninsula? Definitely. They have been farming at their Baxter location for more than 40 years and into their 5th generation now. Through the entrance visitors will enter the rustic property with many antique tools on display, greeted by their friendly staff, and seeing freshly harvested produce being loaded onto shelves.

Our favourite are their round zucchini and heirloom root vegetables. Don’t miss it while you’re heading down to the peninsula. It makes a great first stop on the way from the city; load up with fresh fruits and vegetables for your stay, or enjoy them back at your home.

 

Movie Night at the Trofeo Estate Winery

The standard of hospitality has been improved each day with the increasing popularity of wine tourism in the Mornington Peninsula. The bar is being raised, no, smashed from time to time. New investments, new ideas and offerings are brought to the market each day. Drinkers and diners continue to be spoiled. There is now much more than a good meal and a perfect matching wine over the peninsula wineries. Live music, Aussie smoked BBQ? Nice but kind of a given these days. How about a sculpture park? If the owner is a real estate tycoon and an art collector, why not. But you can also implement new ideas without having to invest millions.

 

Trofeo Estate has been offering an unique wine & dine experience. We have been visiting their cellar door and restaurant regularly for more than 3 years. We saw their wine and hospitality standard increasing, the food and the dining hall at their 1930s building are always superb. Spending time there is like visiting an old friend at her tasteful heritage home, spoiled with good food and wine of course, in a casual atmosphere, chatting and having some laughs. After dinner, your friend plays a movie and everybody watches it over a few good glasses of wine.

IMG_0927.jpg
Cine, Wine & Dine at the Trofeo Estate Winery

Yes you saw it right, Trofeo Estate runs movie nights like your friend’s place. You join them for an a la carte dinner, then enjoy a movie and dessert on the house. Dinner service starts at 6pm, movie starts 8.30pm.

With the long summer days, this is quite perfect. We spent the day at the beach, arrived at the estate in the late afternoon, enjoy fresh air and a glass of bubbles over their deck, followed by dinner and a movie night. I swear that I had worst days …