During our four and a half years living in Melbourne we took many trips to the nearby playground, Mornington Peninsula. This is a popular getaway spot for Melburnians, with many people having summer homes or taking annual trips to various destinations on the peninsula. It's only about an hour's drive, which is wonderful considering we have to drive three times as long if we want to take a similar trip "down south" from Perth. One of our trips was a 2009 exploration that also included Phillip Island, which is a bit further away.
We split our accommodation time on the peninsula between a lovely bed and breakfast in Red Hill (unfortunately no longer in operation because the owners retired) and a cozy cabin in Rye with gorgeous views. I can't find the latter on the internet so the ownership and name must have changed. What I can remember is that accommodation in this region books out fast and early, especially during peak times like school holidays, summer, festivals and important wine region events. My advice to anyone travelling in Australia is always to try to make reservations at least six months in advance unless you want to pay more money than you have to. Accommodations are always busy all over the country.
I've written a little about our wining adventures in Mornington Peninsula previously. We did plenty of that on this trip but we also had enough time for other activities. These included a soak and spa treatments at the Peninsula Hot Springs, day trips to Sorrento, Portsea and Point Nepean National Park, and a couple of rounds of mini-golf, always fun when you're on holiday.
After enjoying our time in Mornington Peninsula we took a very long drive down to Phillip Island. We went there, of course for the island's main attraction: the Penguin Parade. The stars of the show are the "Little Penguins" (formerly known as Fairy Penguins, which I liked a bit better as a name because the show really is magical). After a long day of fishing in the water these small creatures have to make their way back to their homes on land. Crowds gather on the beach at dusk and await their return, which is as interesting as it is cute. First they congregate together in groups at the edge of the water, which takes some time. After all, they have to keep safe as they cross the beach. Then they begin to walk towards you and you just watch hundreds of them wander up the beach. We were enchanted by a little fluffy one who was looking for its mother to give him food. He was practically attacking every other bird thinking it was his mother. We watched him for a long time and were a bit sad when he never seemed to find his mum.
What I learned: There are many different ways to holiday on Mornington Peninsula. If you don't own a holiday house you can rent one. But most people choose B&Bs, cottages/cabins or campgrounds for their summer time off.
Favourite memory: Seeing the little penguins toddle up the beach at the Penguin Parade.
Destination tip: Spend a little extra at the Penguin Parade to upgrade your ticket to Penguins Plus. You'll have a place to sit on a special viewing platform with a prime spot closer to the action. It beats battling the crowds in the general admission section. And be sure to wear warm clothing. It may be an island but it's very chilly on the beach in the evenings and you'll wait for at least an hour to see the penguins emerge.
Biggest regret: Not taking more photos of the wineries we visited. For some reason I only have shots of Montalto from this trip.
Have you been to Mornington Peninsula or Phillip Island? What were your impressions?