Mornington Peninsula, Australia
When to go
A great year-round escape, the Peninsula can get hot and dry in summer (December–February), and nippy in winter (June–August), so dress accordingly. School holidays and long weekends draw smart Melburnians by the 4WD-load, so book ahead or aim for the quieter southern coast, away from hotspots Portsea and Sorrento. Wine festivals take the edge off the chill in winter; swimming is warmer in summer.
PlanesFly into Melbourne's international airport (www.melbourneairport.com.au), north-west of the city at Tullamarine. From here you can pick up a hire car for the drive to Mornington Peninsula.
BoatsIf you're coming from the Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast or Great Ocean Road south-west of Melbourne, then you can cross the Rip, at the mouth of Port Phillip Bay, on the Queenscliff-Sorrento car and passenger ferry (+61 (0)3 5258 3244; www.searoad.com.au). Year-round ferries depart on the hour in both directions, from 7am–6pm, for the 40-minute journey, with later services during peak season. From Sorrento it's just a short hop to Portsea. To the east, Inter Island Ferries (www.interislandferries.com.au) link adjacent French Island and Phillip Island with the Mornington Peninsula's Stony Point.
TrainsMetlink trains (www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au) run from Melbourne to Frankston on Port Phillip Bay. Jump on at any of the city's central Loop stations, including Southern Cross and Flinders Street stations. From Frankston, you can reach Portsea on regular route 788 bus, which travels via Dromana, Rosebud and Sorrento along the bay. For a timetable see Metlink's website or operator Portsea Passenger Service (www.grenda.com.au).
AutomobilesMornington Peninsula is within easy reach of Melbourne via the Mornington Peninsula Freeway or opt for a more scenic drive along the Beach Road that turns into Nepean Highway. Drive times will vary, depending on whether you're headed for the popular bayside villages, including refined Portsea and Sorrento, deeper inland or south to the ocean coast.
TaxisFor Australia-wide taxis call 131 008; for a reliable local service try Peninsula Taxis (+61 (0)3 5981 2233; www.peninsulataxis.com).
With mellow vineyards and beaches, the Mornington Peninsula is the ultimate escape an hour’s drive from Phillip Island. With its Bush, Beach and African boudoirs, Big Blue Backyard makes a boho base, dishing up delicious breakfasts and candlelit dinners. Savour a soak at Peninsula Hot Springs, unwind on nearby St Andrews Beach or check out bayside villages Portsea or Sorrento. For alfresco sculpture and tasty winery meals, head to Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove. Merricks General Store bistro has an inviting Hamptons-esque vibe.