As always Melbourne is a great destination for a visit. Shopping, eating, culture, shopping, eating, sport… It’s all there.
For our latest visit our Melbourne friends made the excellent suggestion that we do a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula.
Ok so as we only visited the peninsula for a day we didn’t manage to see too much of what the area has to offer but we did get a great little taste of the region.
Mornington Peninsula is only an hour and half from Melbourne so it’s an easy destination for a day trip like ours or a weekend. Breaking up the journey and creating an interesting distraction is a great public art collection along the East Link freeway.
Our first stop was a lunch venue at Cape Schanck. As the hire car bumped along the rough dirt road I was starting to worry about how I would contact the local roadside assistance. But the short bumpy drive was worth it once we turned into beautiful avenue of olive trees which marked the final approach to the venue. Then at the top of the hill the view was revealed – across the grape vines down Cape Schanck towards the sea. I think I saw Tasmania in the distance. Actually we were facing west so it was Port Phillip Heads and the Bellarine Peninsula in the distance.
La Campagna is a vineyard with a small cellar door and restaurant open for lunch on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Being a little bit out of the way I thought no one would be there but it was packed! (I would highly suggest booking a table.)
The friendly owner welcomed us and proudly introduced his wife, who was busy in the kitchen preparing the incredible homestyle Italian cuisine. Seated and happily enjoying the incredible vista, we were also entertained watching the owner work fresh pizza dough, top it with marinated mushrooms and place it straight into the firing pizza oven. Minutes later the pizzetta arrived at our table with other freshly baked breads, bruschetta, antipasti and of course delicious olives directly from the olive groves. We enjoyed share plates from the menu – lasagne, scallopini, polpetti, crumbed chicken and eggplant parmigiana. All of it delicious! (We also took home a bottle of their own olive oil and have been enjoying cooking with it.)
Reluctantly we had to leave the restaurant without tasting dessert or coffee as we were running late for our booking at the nearby hot springs.
I must admit I was a bit nervous at the prospect of outdoor pools – hot water or not – in the middle of winter south of Melbourne. Luckily the weather was lovely and mild, sunny and kind of warm.
Peninsula Hot Springs near Rye was a lovely surprise. Set in lovely gardens the rockery pools are flowing with natural hot mineral water and range in temperatures from 37 – 43c. There are over 20 bathing “experiences”, including a Turkish style “Hamman” or steam room, sauna, cave pool and large family bathing pools.
When you climb up to the highest pool the views of the surrounding countryside are beautiful. Sadly we couldn’t get into this pool as it was packed. But no problem, we just trekked back down and tried a few other pools on our way. The silent pool was very serene. One I loved was the reflexology pool: ankle deep with variations of pebbles on the base of the pool which massage your feet as you make your way along the length of the pool.
There are loads of options at the Peninsula Hot Springs. Personally I am dreaming about a return visit, mid week when it is quiet, a spa treatment or two, perhaps a private pool… and definitely nabbing a spot in that upper most pool at the pinnacle of the hot springs. Will. Be. Back.
La Campagna doesn’t have a website but can be found at 176 Rogers Road, Cape Schanck Victoria 3939 (03) 5988 5350
Peninsula Hot Springs is open 7 days a week 7.30am – 9pm. Bookings recommended on weekends & peak times.
(Flickr photo credits for Peninsula Hot Springs thanks to Think Geo Energy)