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Living the Mornington Peninsula Dream

Here on the Mornington Peninsula, we are known for our pristine beaches, epic coastlines and lush bushland, but what makes us so much more than a destination for spectacular natural scenery is the diverse array of individuals shaping the business innovation in region. Driven by a shared quest to create unique experiences for visitors far and wide, in this, the week of International Women’s Day, we connect with some of the incredible women integral to the entrepreneurship of this ever-evolving place. Five women reveal how they live and share the Mornington Peninsula experience.

Connect to nature and the local wildlife

Meet Rebecca Levy, Manager of The Briars, a beautiful conservation park based in Mount Martha - home to a wildlife sanctuary, heritage house, nursery and astronomy centre. Beck as she prefers to be called, started her working life unlike most as a zookeeper, caring for everything from birds to hippos.  Through keeping, she also discovered her love of connecting people to the natural world whilst leading tours of the animals she tended . “Since my guiding days, I have sought out roles where I can continue to work with communities to create places and experiences which immerse people in nature and inspire them to make big or small changes to help preserve the natural world. When the position at the Briars became available, I thought what a privilege to be the caretaker of such a beautiful site.” For Beck, The Briars is a destination for visitors to connect with nature and wildlife in a real and unique way, a way that constantly changes with each visit.

Blissful Glamping under the stars

Meet Amanda Crestini, a woman whose love of travel set her on the path to a career in destination marketing and finding her home on the Mornington Peninsula to set up Bayplay Adventure Tours, twenty years in the making and now Illuka Retreat, a unique outdoor glamping venture found amongst bird wetlands, native flora and fauna close to Shoreham beach.  Amanda explained, “We came across Iluka Retreat and fell in love with it straight away.  We decided to purchase the property which is also a registered private campground - but we needed something more in the area and with the growth of Glamping we added in a Glamping Village for guest to the area to enjoy. The Mornington Peninsula is a place for adventure and exploration, but it can also be a space for retreat and relaxation,” it is the beautiful balance of both that Amanda and her family run business have mastered for guests wanting to play in both spheres to live the complete Mornington Peninsula experience.

An authentic local experience 
Meet mother and daughter duo, Jacinta Paganoni and Danielle Field. Their business, MP Experience was born of a desire to offer more than just tours of the Mornington Peninsula, instead deliver experiences that immersed a visitor in the authentic local world the family knew and loved. A novel suite of experiences was crafted, giving visitors access to ‘behind the curtains’ of local experts, meeting local producers and wine makers up close and personal. The idea gave new perspective to the flavours of the region and continues to inspire travellers with new and inventive experiences to understand the narrative of paddock to plate. Danielle shares “ I am passionate about the Peninsula and love people; I feel privileged to be able to introduce the true personalities and experts of our region to our visitors – everyone loves it.’

The taste of carrots with no food miles
Meet Georgie Hawkes, once banker, now the woman managing the numbers for Hawkes Farm. Hawkes Farm has evolved into much more than a working farm – a place for education, a place for inspiration, a place to fill your bag with the ingredients for a delicious meal, the farm is one of Mornington Peninsula’s thriving farm gates. Since the 70’s, the Hawkes family have worked together collaboratively with a shared mission; “Bringing people in to see where their food comes from and seeing the joy of kids’ faces when a tractor goes by really makes this the most exciting part of the business. We feel that bringing fresh produce direct to the public is so important for the health of our community, as well as for agriculture in our country. We are getting more people to eat and respect a carrot with no food miles fresh from the ground. That’s something special.”


Today we celebrate women and the cast of characters that make this region a thriving hub of innovative business, conservation and agriculture. Combined they are what make the Mornington Peninsula what it has become - a place worth visiting.

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Author: Allison

Categories: Wine Food Farmgate, Adventure & Attractions, Touring, AccommodationNumber of views: 2652