Local Heroes

Find hand picked and hand made local heroes

Makers, creators and innovators find their way to our picturesque region. For some it's a short journey; they were born here, for others it's a chance for a sea-change or tree-change. Along the way they collect passionate people around them and work hard to build experiences worthy of making memories. They are inspiring and committed. They work hard to make their dreams come true, and they want to share it with the world. These are our local heroes.

From sunrise to sunset, the Mornington Peninsula delivers wonderful experiences. Sometimes you need the local knowledge to find the extraordinary, and sometimes you think you know them but you can still be surprised. They give you the chance to find something different, try something new, and to share it with others. I AM Mornington Peninsula shares with you the stories of 10 of our local heroes, plus a selection of iconic experiences.

Discover some of the many talented makers, creators and innovators of our region. They give you the chance to find something different, try something new, and to share it with others. The welcome is personal and there is so much heritage and passion to share. I AM Mornington Peninsula helps you to find your way to meet them for yourself.

I AM the Pt Leo Estate story

As you step into the carefully curated Pt. Leo Estate, your senses are heightened. Here a gallery of ever-evolving outdoor sculptures crafted by well-known Australian and internationally renowned artists connect art to the natural landscape. Whether you stumble upon Pt. Leo Estate by chance or have planned your entire Mornington Peninsula exploration around a visit here, from the time you arrive it’s evident you have found something very special.

This ambitious undertaking by the Gandel family has been to create a world class sculpture display coupled with a winery, cellar door and exceptional dining options that can be shared by all. The resulting experience is the distinctive pleasure of knowing that you have found somewhere which excels at combining the best of the region in one place. A visual feast is afforded at every turn; from the impressive sweeping views encapsulating Western Port Bay, to the 50-acre vineyard, and of course the sculpture park itself. The layout of the sculpture trail has been designed to be enjoyed from all areas including the cellar door, wine terrace and two award winning restaurants.

Your journey starts from the moment you reach the property. Demanding your immediate attention on arrival is the monumental work in powder-coated steel by Inge King called Grand Arch which dominates the forecourt. Once inside, their team led by Restaurant Manager Ainslie Lubbock, makes sure that you are well looked after at every step of your visit. It’s an authentic experience and whether you are visiting for a dining experience, a wine tasting or to explore the sculpture park it’s best enjoyed by taking your time and enjoying each experience against the awe-inspiring backdrop of that view.

As you explore the property you’ll begin to understand that the experiences have been created for both pleasure and to celebrate everything local. A visit one day can be different to the next as sculptures look different at various times of day, from different angles and in a different light. The creative menus in the restaurants feature local seasonal produce highlighting flavours when they are at their best.

Inside the 19-acre sculpture park you’ll find the largest privately-owned outdoor art collection in the country. The international and local sculpture collection features big names in the art scene. Australian artists such as Deborah Halpern, Bruce Armstrong and Dean Bowen, as well as international artists including Tony Cragg, Jaume Plensa and Zadok Ben-David to name a few.  While some are monumental and impress with scale, others focus on the intricate and whimsical side of art. It’s up front, unmissable and deliberately delighting. Curator of the sculpture park, Geoffrey Edwards, comes with credentials of director of Geelong Gallery and curator of sculptures at the National Gallery of Victoria. His finesse in bringing together various artistic voices to create meaning to their admirers is an art of its own.

Owners of Pt. Leo Estate, the Gandel family, have been collecting sculptures for nearly 60 years and wanted to share them by creating a place where people could reconnect and enjoy the best of the region. It’s designed to be an interactive showcase of colour and mixed mediums as well as offering a tactile experience.  These different forms and pieces are connected by winding paths and native flora which creates a connection each of the all shared areas. Choose either the 30-minute or 60-minute circuit which allows the art to unfold before you for your viewing pleasure.

The natural landscape on which Pt. Leo Estate is situated has been forged over hundreds of years. With respect and meticulous planning, the sculpture park has been designed in such a way as to showcase the art and create a link to the ever-present waters of Western Port and the expansive rolling vineyards. You feel a sense of space and scale when you immerse yourself in the surrounds. Architect Stephen Jolson who designed and created the building that houses the restaurants and cellar door showed respect to the surrounding countryside by integrating the building into the hillside. In fact, the building is hardly apparent at all from the impressive driveway entrance, and the view opens up expressively as you venture through the enormous doorway under the hill.

Western Port is the less explored side of the Mornington Peninsula and when you see the beauty that abounds at Pt Leo Estate you start to wonder why.  Dramatic views stretch out past more than 50 sculptures over the waters of Western Port towards Phillip Island; which feels surprisingly near.  From every part of the experience, the view is a part of it.

The impressiveness of the sculptures is matched by Culinary Director, Phil Wood. The offering is designed to be something for everyone with the philosophy of using the finest seasonal ingredients. The menu mirrors the creativity and qualities of the sculpture park offering intrigue, simple beauty and elegance.

There are two restaurant options here, but it doesn’t matter where you sit in the restaurants as all tables enjoy the stunning 180-degree views.  Fine dining in two Chef Hatted restaurant ‘Laura’ (named after the 6m-high cast-iron head of the same name by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa which can be admired from your table), offers a menu built entirely on food sourced from within 30km of the property and an extensive wine list. In the 12 months since opening, Laura has received numerous accolades including ‘New Restaurant of the Year’ by Gourmet Traveller and ‘New Restaurant of the Year’ by Good Food Guide 2019 and truly delivers as an award-winning dining experience. Smart but casual one Chef Hatted ‘Pt. Leo’ restaurant is more relaxed and features a flavour perfect seasonal bistro menu and an all Victorian wine list. The menus that have been created are distinctive, fresh and has a focus on locally grown and made produce.

Moving to the cellar door bar is a seamless experience, again paying respect to the landscape and distinctive qualities of the region. The bar is deliberately low, so views aren’t compromised - allowing you to see exactly where your wine comes from. The vines on the property have been carefully tended for over 15 years and produce the Pt. Leo Estate range of hand selected and handpicked single vineyard wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. The grape varietals that reflect the Mornington Peninsula region perfectly. The cellar door atmosphere is relaxed while the team remain attentive with tastings on offer dating back to 2012 vintage. Their recently launched wine club invites those passionate about their wine to continue the friendship and follow their winemaking journey.

What Pt. Leo Estate have achieved in creating a connection and sense of place in such a short time is something to be commended. It is this careful and considered approach which has earnt them a litany of awards and loyal followers. It’s the attention to detail, the impressive ambition and celebration of the region combined into one. By being purposefully Australian and honouring the natural landscape Pt. Leo Estate has created an evocative experience to remember. Their ethos that ‘art is for all’ and dream to share what they have is now a reality and their journey will continue.

Author: Ebony MPT
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