Victoria country trips, Heading south from Melbourne

Melbourne is a great city and also surrounded by some beautiful areas to travel to – coastal villages, rainforest, National Parks, wineries, olive groves, mountains, historic towns, sheep and dairy properties and a whole lot more.
Heading south
Melbourne has two Ports, the main one being Port Phillip Bay and the other one is Western Port Bay(even though it is on the south east side of the city. Western Port Bay is much smaller in area, but has two main islands – French Island (a national park with few inhabitants) and Phillip Island, which is about one and a half hours from Melbourne; has a population of around 10,000 residents and is just 26km x 9 km in size. A smaller island, Churchill Island lies a few hundred metres off Phillip Island.
Mornington Peninsula - can be reached by following the Mornington Peninsula Freeway (11) and Nepean Highway (B110) all the way from the City to the tip of the Mornington Peninsula, sometimes along the Bayside, and other times away from it.
The peninsula extends around the south eastern side of Port Phillip Bay and contains a large number of bayside residential suburbs with beaches all along the shoreline – including in bayside suburbs like Frankston, Mt Eliza, Mornington -head to Main Street and then the Esplanade off Marine Drive (C783), Mount Martha, Safety Beach and Dromana, McCrae, Rosebud, Rye and Blairgowrie, all the way to Sorrento and Portsea. All of these suburbs have beachside areas to see. You will also find lots of interesting places to stop by, including bike and walking trails, parks, boat ramps, yacht clubs, lifesaving clubs, cafes, restaurants, shops and great views across the Bay.
The alternatives to stopping at the various beaches is to travel the fastest way via the Mornington Peninsula Freeway (11) and Nepean Highway (B110) all the way to Portsea or head to the east side, via the wineries in and around Red Hill and then to the eastside Western Port coastal villages down to Portsea.
To travel to the wineries and Western Port Villages: Turn off the Freeway at Dromana and head via Arthurs Seat Rd to Purves Rd in Arthurs Seat to the “Enchanted Maze Garden ” – where you will find 3 hedge mazes, tube slides and 20 fantasy gardens designed by the world famous, Lynton Harris. Put on 3D glasses to walk through a garden surrounded by Chinese Warriors. This is certainly no ordinary garden! Great fun, and very memorable! Further along Purves Rd is the Pine Ridge Car Museum and Teapot House.
Both Purves Rd and Arthurs Seat Rd (C789) also lead to different parts of Arthurs Seat State Park, then on to Main Ridge. From Main Ridge head to Red Hill to find lots of wineries next to the main roads and ones leading off them. This whole area has wineries, tea rooms, galleries, farms, plant nurseries, restaurants, horse trials and B&B’s to stay over, with the Red Hill market on the first Saturday of each month.
Take Red Hill Rd heading north and turn right onto Bittern-Dromana Rd (C788) – which leads
eastwards to Frankston-Flinders Rd (C777) and roads to Western Port Bay and to Stony Point Ferry; roads North to villages like Bittern, Hastings and Tyabb and its Antique shops; OR southwards to Somers, Balnarring Beach, Merricks Beach, Point Leo, Shoreham and Flinders.
Western Port Bay (from north of Stony Point) has views from the shoreline out to French Island, with a ferry service connecting Stony Point (Crib Point) to both French Island and also Phillip Island. Crib Point is also where the HMAS Cerberus Naval Establishment is located too.
On the tip of the Mornington Peninsula are the small villages of Blairgowrie, Sorrento and Portsea – and here you will find the Sorrento Golf Club, Portsea Golf Club, and the Mornington Peninsula National Park which extends right out to Point Nepean and the reefs, and the Port Phillip Heads Marine Park is located here too.
The Searoad Ferry service, and also car ferry depart from Sorrento Ferry Terminal to cross Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula.
The waters around the tip of the Peninsula can be dangerous, and it was here at Cheviot Beach that the Australian Prime Minister, Harold Holt disappeared in 1967, never to be seen again. There are lots of cycleways, walkways and old military installations that make for interesting walks, and Mornington Peninsula wines are becoming a big attraction in the area. The diving wreck of the HMAS Canberra, now an artificial reef is located on the ocean floor off the coast – and dives can be organised from Sorrento to view it.
Food, wines, great scenery, history, diving, fishing, golf, ferry services and closeness to Melbourne all make the Mornington Peninsula a great place to spend time in.
Phillip Island is a very popular tourist destination, and one of the highlights of a visit to Melbourne, both for its natural beauty and also its wildlife and manmade attractions. The island is located at the mouth of Western Port, with water ways on both sides leading on to Bass Straight and the Southern Ocean.
While it is possible to catch the Ferry from Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula, it is more likely that you will travel to Phillip Island on the Eastern side of Western Port Bay via the Princes Highway (1), which leads on to the South Gippsland Highway (M420), which leads onto the Bass Highway (A420) to Phillip Island Rd (B420) over the bridge at San Remo to Newhaven on Phillip Island.
The ocean side of Phillip Island is more rugged and windswept with often strong ocean currents, whereas the Port side has quieter waters, but both sides have beaches.
The main attraction of Phillip Island is the Fairy Penguin Parade around sunset ,viewed by thousands of people throughout the year. There are 16,000 breeding pairs of penguins coming to shore on Phillip Island, and you can watch them cross from the water over the beach and go into their burrows. Equally interesting are the fur seals at Seal Rocks – said to number around 25,000 with 6000 seal pups born each year. The island also has some 346 species of birds, including Mutton Birds, Shearwaters and other species. Walkways, cycleways and a mangrove boardwalk plus the small size of the island make it an attractive holiday destination for both tourists and locals alike.
There are many places to stay on the island, many restaurants and cafes and the island is also home to car and bike racing with the Phillip Island circuit – attracting big crowds each year to see the Australian MotoGP, V8 and World Superbike Championship races.
Phillip Island is also home to the National Vietnam Veterans Museum and it is a short distance from the museum to Churchill Island, where the first settlement in Victoria took place in 1798. Churchill Island has a number of historic buildings and gardens, including the Moonah Forest and a farm with Scottish Highland Cattle
We hope you have a great time seeing Melbourne and also the towns and cities in Victoria.
Happy Travelling!
Geoff Stuart

Happy Traveller

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