Get lost, and then found again
Although no one has ever been declared officially lost, it is easy to imagine that you could be the first when exploring the enormous hedge maze at Ashcombe Maze & Lavender Gardens in Shoreham. The hedge is now over 40 years old and more than three metres high in places with hidden gateways and secret sculptures. Once you make your way through to the central pond and out the other side, you can then spend a few hours (and notch up a few kilometres) wandering the 25 acres of gardens and woodlands. For those braver souls, you can try the Great Gnome Hunt and find all the hidden statues in the garden to earn yourself a well-deserved lolly. At the end of all your exertion you may need a bit more to keep you going, so a hearty morning or afternoon tea might be in order in the mud brick café. Their renowned scones with jam and cream are fluffy and delicious, and there is even a fragrant lavender icecream on offer.
Just up the road and around the bend another adventure (with more food on offer) awaits, but this one is at a recreation reserve…
To market, to market
The iconic Red Hill Community Market has been satisfying the retail therapy needs of locals and visitors alike for more than 30 years. The original concept that stallholders ‘make it, bake it, grow it, or breed it’ still holds true and the person behind the stall is often the maker. And boy, do they know how to make! Handmade pastas, matching sauces, local wines, home brewed beer, jams, pickles and chutneys, sweet treats and baked delights. Original designs in manchester, jewellery, clothes, accessories, sculpture and artworks. Fresh seasonal fruits, trestles groaning with herbs and vegetables, colourful fresh flowers and plants for the garden, grown just for you. The stallholders love a chat and the friendly community atmosphere makes for a wonderful way to catch up with friends and wander. You do need to get up with the birds as it starts at 8am and only goes until 1pm, but it will definitely bring out your inner shopper. Parking is close by, but it’s better to get there early and the wiser among us will pack a trolley, or you can build up your shopping muscles carrying the bags.
And if you’re loving the fresh country air, there are plenty more ways to enjoy it. What about teeing off on one of Australia’s top 100 golf courses?
Take a swing and a stroll
At the most westerly tip of the Mornington Peninsula is the tiny village of Portsea. Home to the rich and famous (and an amazing national park) it is also where you will find the Portsea Golf Club This part of the Mornington Peninsula is only a couple of kilometres wide and the London Bridge Road that Portsea Golf Club is sited on leads to the spectacular and rugged Bass Strait coastline. Those passionate about golf will appreciate the superbly maintained couch fairways and well drained soils that create an enjoyable (and challenging) golf experience all year round. The rest will love that the links style layout is set amongst rolling sand dunes adjoining the Point Nepean National Park and that the new clubhouse built less than 5 years ago has amazing sweeping views over the golf course to Port Phillip. The club hosts state and national events, complemented by their own prestigious 72 hole Open Amateur and the iconic Portsea Pro-Am, but you can play your own round of golf on any day except Thursdays and Saturdays.
Further along the ocean coastline towards Cape Schanck is Moonah Links Golf Complex that is the largest golf tourism complex in Victoria with two world class courses - the Open Course and the Legends Course. The championship Open Course was the venue for the 2003 Australian Open and is one of the longest courses in Australia. Designed to challenge even the modern golf champion, it contrasts with the more friendly golfing experience on the Legends Course that winds its way through ancient Moonah trees and across open links.
And if it all takes a bit longer than you planned, there is high quality accommodation on site at both clubs…
Stay and play some more
The Mercure Portsea at the Portsea Golf Club has the quality standard you would expect from Mercure. Each of the four star 24 boutique style accommodation rooms have their own balcony or terrace and share a slice of the spectacular views over the golf course to Port Phillip, and there is an onsite restaurant and bar with more of those wonderful views. Bush, coastal and bay walks are all just outside the front door, and the Point Nepean National Park, where Australia’s Prime Minster Harold Holt disappeared in 1967, offers a lesson in history as well.
Another golf- accommodation option in Fingal – just a few kilometres from Rye - is the Peppers Moonah Links Resort. The resort has come a long way since being a fully functioning dairy farm (many years ago now) and offers stylish deluxe rooms and suites, with balconies or terraces overlooking the two 18-hole golf courses. The resort itself includes state of the art meeting spaces, a solar heated pool and gymnasium, and those world class golf courses. The famous Peninsula Hot Springs is right next door and a courtesy golf cart can be arranged to gently chauffeur you to and from your relaxing hot springs experience - well deserved after such an active getaway.
With the fresh air, fabulous views, beautiful coastlines and peaceful bush land there are so many way to get out and get active on the Mornington Peninsula.