December 2015 took me to Australia and in particular, the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.

Located just an hour from central Melbourne, the Peninsula offers many different types of experiences and accommodation, from Boutique B&B's to budget motels, spa experiences to swimming with wild dolphins and fine dining to fish and chips!

I stayed at the Quarters at Flinders Hotel on the south east coast located in the heart of the wine region and close to lots of tourist spots and activities. This boutique property is stylish and modern with good sized rooms and dining options of fine dining at Terminus or good local cuisine at the Deck Bar and Bistro. The welcoming and long standing team led by Ashleigh, made us feel very welcome and offered advice on what to do and see locally. More information on this property can be found at www.flindershotel.com.au .

Flinders itself is a traditional small town with a traditional general store and pharmacy, several art galleries and a specialist chocolate shop. It was to be our base for two nights having arrived into Sorrento by the Searoad Ferry from Queenscliff, which takes roughly 45mins and is a lovely way to beat the traffic and potentially spot some dolphins.

On arrival into Sorrento we headed to the winelands stopping for lunch at the Green Olive at Red Hill which offers a fabulous range of tapas using own grown or locally sourced produce and matching wines. More information can be found at www.greenolive.com.au . 

The next day, we headed back to Sorrento Pier to join the Moonraker Dolphin and Seal Swim excursion with Torie and her team. This 3 hour excursion started with us being kitted up with our wetsuite, snorkling kit and finns. We then joined the boat to head out along the coast with breakfast and a cuppa to Chinaman's Hat which is home to wild Australia Fur Seals. We entered the shallow waters with the Moonraker team to witness the seals joining us in the water and playing around. From here we set sail to find the wild dolphins where, once located, we entered the water again with snorkling gear at the ready. Holding on to a rope attached to the boat in groups of no more than 10 at a time, we enjoyed the dolphins swimming around us. We were lucky enough to see a mother feeding her calf. This was a great morning and Torie and her team were fantastic with those of us who weren't so confident in the water. More information can be seen about this tour and what other excursions Torie and her team offer at www.moonrakercharters.com.au . 

After a fantastic  lunch at Morgan's Beach Shack overlooking the local school children learning to paddle board in the blue waters, we headed to Peninsula Hot Springs where we were able to relax in various natural thermal pools at different temperatures, size and features. The Hilltop pool offers fantastic views, the hydrojet pool offers an in water massage and the reflexology walk massages your pressure points. More information can be found at www.peninsulahotsprings.com .

The next day we headed to the Moonlit Sanctuary where you can walk around native animals, take part in interaction experiences such as cuddle a koala, take a Dingo for a walk or be a keeper for the day. I was lucky enough to be shown around by Michael, the sanctuary owner who talked to me about the different animals and the conservation work that they are doing at the sanctuary.  One of the highlights of the sanctuary is the nocturnal walks that they offer, meaning you can see many animals come alive and up close that you wouldn't be able to see during the day. The sanctuary is a must for all visitors to the peninsula, not just to see the animals, but also to support the important conservation work that the sanctuary is doing. More information can be found at www.moonlitsanctuary.com.au . 

After lunch at The Rocks in Mornington - www.therocksmornington.com.au , we followed the coastal road back down to Sorrento. The views were stunning and with a gentle reminder of the big city of Melbourne and it's skyline in the distance, we headed back across on the ferry.

My fleeting visit only touched the surface of what the peninsula has to offer. For more information go to www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org or give me a call on 01962 659280 or email me at kate.self@travelcounsellors.com 


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