Words by Tiffany Forbes Art by Sarah Mackey
If uni has you skulling coffee like it’s water, and has your bags under your eyes screaming “help me”, you’re probably in need of a well-earned break. In under two hours from the CBD, the Mornington Peninsula is the perfect place for a quick weekend getaway that’ll have you home in time for that 9am lecture Monday morning.
Pack your bags, friends, significant other, or just yourself and your car keys and hit the road. Driving is your best bet because you’ll need a car to get to most of the Peninsula’s hidden treasures.
Don’t bring your textbooks. I promise they won’t be needed. But do pack your bathers, activewear, and an appetite.
12pm: Leave in the early afternoon to avoid rush hours. The Eastlink from the CBD connects directly to the Peninsula Link which will get you to Mornington in a step and a hop.
1.30pm: You may have left Melbourne but that doesn’t mean ‘Melbourne’ has left you. Stop for a customary brunch at Wombats café just off the freeway in Dromana. It’s my favourite vegan spot, which has a colourful menu and an even prettier interior.
2.00pm: Arrive. Ditch the overpriced hotels, Airbnb or Stayz accommodation sites have the best little cottages and beach houses to rent for the weekend at great prices. Location-wise, somewhere close to Main Street in Mornington is ideal. Otherwise, Mt Martha and Safety Beach are relatively central.
4.00pm: Time to settle in. Those bathers I told you to pack? Get them out and head down to Peninsula Hot Springs to kick-start your weekend of R&R. Good news is that Friday falls into their ‘off peak’ days, so entry drops to half the price—and remember to bring your student card. You might even catch a gorgeous sunset if you plant yourself in the hilltop pool at the right time.
9.00am: Chuck on some activewear, pack your bathers (hopefully dried from last night) and head down to Main Street Mornington for brekkie. This strip honestly has any cuisine you could possibly want. For the sake of it being only 9am, I’ll give you my top three breakfast picks.
The Boyz 4 Breakie: Think good ol’ café style brekkie–eggs with the lot, pancakes, French toast, fritters, and breakfast burgers.
Mr Jackson: Think brunch specialists. Craving smashed avo? They’ve got you, otherwise try some smashed pumpkin if you’re feelin’ something more. Bonus points for their big neon sign (hello Instagram).
Store Fifteen: Think #healthfood fanatic. Smoothies, acai bowls, raw treats, and superfood juices.
10.00am: Explore the rest of Main Street. There’s some great vintage op-shops the further you walk along, and before heading off, go down to the beach and check out the Mornington beach boxes.
12.00pm: A trip to the Peninsula wouldn’t be complete without a coastal hike with its elevated views of the surreal bay. Depending on what you’re into, the weather, and where you’re staying, I’d pack a small picnic and look into these:
Blairgowrie Jumping Rock: In summer, I tend to drive to Blairgowrie, park in the beach parking lot and walk the coastal trail until I get to the Blairgowrie Jumping Rock. This is a hidden treasure of the Peninsula—so hidden that it’s easy to miss—so make sure you have Google maps on hand. Full disclosure: it’s quite an obstacle to get to, but totally worth it.
Arthur’s Seat: Alternatively, Arthur’s Seat is another great walk with panoramic views of the bay, a scenic lookout and gondolas. It’s a must do.
6.00pm: Now there’s two ways your Saturday night could go.
If you’re feeling a sense of FOMO from your regular Chapel Street scene, take yourself back down to Mornington Main Street for dinner and drinks. A lot of the bars and pubs are open late on a Saturday night. Merchant Lane have cheap (student approved) meals and drinks for a chill nightlife vibe, otherwise head to Cruze nightclub for something up a notch.
If neither are your scene, the Dromana Drive Ins are popular. Bring snacks, blankets and you’re set.
7.00am: Sunrise? Tick. Last minute walk on the beach? Tick.
10.30am: Check out of your accommodation and hit the road. But before you head home, stop at Red Hill’s Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm and pick a punnet. Oh, and make sure you’re hungry because their cafe is a berry lover’s dream. There’s fondue, Devonshire tea, cakes, sundaes, jam, ice cream and pies made fresh from the produce.
2.00pm: Home, in time for a quiz or two, and that 9am lecture tomorrow morning.