Kicking back in the Peninsula is definitely the place to be for a long weekend. Many escape the hustle and bustle of busy city life and have getaway homesteads in either Sorrento or Portsea. To own a millionaire’s dream home or even a yacht anchored out in the harbour may not be achieveable on your pocket — however, a ‘Bridget Jones mini-break’ may be a little more realistic. There are gorgeous apartments to stay in or there are AirBnB’s or resort hotels.
My ideal weekend is: a long weekend stay at Portsea Village Resort, play a few games of tennis, have a plunge in the outdoor pool then hop into the indoor pool and spa and, to complete the day, a cocktail or two on your large terrace overlooking the pool. Then, pop down to the Portsea Village Bar and Grill and meet Executive Chef and Co-owner Simon Higgs (now front of house though a skilled international chef.) He can talk you through his impressive specials with a modern Australian theme, and do let him help you choose your wine from his interesting selection which he will decant for you to allow it to present well. The delicious menu will allow something for everyone from lamb ribs to green lip mussels, duck croquettes, buttered lobster or a sumptuous steak with just the right amount of char to give you that amazing taste that you desire accompanied by seasonal veg: the smashed roasted chat potatoes are heavenly. To finish, my favourite is the Affogato with Frangelico and my husband’s, the thick luscious chocolate brownie and then a roll upstairs to rest for the following day.
After grabbing a beautiful almond croissant and a very good coffee from Le Capucin across the road, head off to Point Nepean National Park Information Center and pick up your reserved E-bike from BayPlay — top tip: Do take a packed lunch with you as there is nothing to buy in the park and you will spend several hours enjoying the tracks. Going up and down the steps to monuments, visiting the maritime cemetery and many fortifications. Don’t forget to take a bike lock with you as you will need to leave your bike unattended for extended periods. The tunnels are well lit but do duck unless you want a web or two in your face. The Quarantine Station has many outlying buildings dating back to 1852. In 1980 this was turned into the Army Officer Cadet School until 1985 where it became the School of Army Health and in 1999 it housed refugees from Kosovo. The buildings are a must see and there is also: The Gunners Cottage, the Eagles Nest which is an observation point and the Pearce Barracks. At the tip of the peninsula is Fort Nepean with its many tunnels, where the army in the dug outs took shelter before going into action and arming their guns. Do check out the gun that fired the first shot in World War 1 at 12:45 on the 5th August, 1914. There are many benches strategically placed around the national park and they have beautiful sea views which are lovely to enjoy your picnic from.
Late afternoon I highly recommend after your shower and change to drive across to Sorrento (only approx 10 mins away by car) and enjoy a little retail therapy. Sorrento has many beautiful boutiques that are one-off stores selling local artists’ works and fabulous unusual items. If you go down the hill you will find Sorrento beach and this is lined with cafes, bars and on the beach front The Baths which is a lovely restaurant and event space overlooking the pier on the beach.
In the evening why not make an Opentable booking at Portsea Hotel which is a short stroll away so you can enjoy mixing with the locals — if you have a headache this may not be the place for you as it can be quite noisy and buzzy and full of people catching up and enjoying the spectacular view. For us we enjoyed a starter there (top tip: get help when ordering their QR code online menu is tricky even for this tech —- and I still managed to receive the wrong order — but sucked it up as it was my hand on the button — and I did it four times, somewhat frustrating. I would have liked to enjoy one of their pizzas as they churn out some good looking pizzas but we decided to return to the lovely Portsea Village Bar and Grill hosted by Simon Higgs and Byron and the lovely Sari (the new server) and delighted in duck croquettes and a couple of naughty desserts the chocolate brownie is sensational and if you are lucky you might get offered one of Simon’s interesting Sherry’s that he has cashed.
After a light breakfast pack up and head to Rye to the spectacular and peaceful Peninsula Hot Springs. This is somewhere I love returning to again and again. It has multiple pools with different degrees of temperatures. There are reflexology walks and the 360 degree pool at the top is wonderful to enjoy the panoramic view from. Do ensure that you book ahead for a session time to avoid disappointment and remember to take or hire a bathrobe as it can get chilly in between the pools and you will need to hire a locker to place your stuff in. It has adjoining it a treatment spa for massages and wellness. Sadly, I never allot enough time for both the hot springs and a massage ….definitely something I must work on.
Well, I hope this post has allowed you a little escapism, inspiration and knowledge of what can be done in a short time on Mornington Peninsula but specifically if based out of Portsea. Please drop me a line here on my post and do input your email into the contact form so you don’t miss one of my future posts — it will be lovely to hear who is out there reading.
Until next time….