When life gives you long weekends go on a road trip – it’s been our motto since we moved down to Melbourne. But every time we’re close to another long weekend, I struggle to find places to visit. Not that we’re not spoilt for choice in Victoria. It’s because I have a certain list of requirements. If it’s a day trip, it must be no farther than 3-hours drive, preferably somewhere we haven’t been before and must include at least 2-hours long walk (4 walks, 30-min each won’t do).
Every time I was looking for ideas I skipped Mornington Peninsula. I don’t know why I had oh, that won’t be interesting thought in my head. Until last month. The weather forecast is great, we’re going to see Mornington Peninsula!
Bushrangers Bay trail seemed to meet my requirements – 2h each way with pretty coastal views. Starting point Cape Schanck Lighthouse. Quick lesson #1: don’t assume people like to sleep in on long weekends. The Cape Schanck lighthouse car park is small and there is nowhere to park a car after 10 am.
A random track from the Fingal Picnic Area
We had to quickly adjust our plans. 2km away from the lighthouse car park, we found a parking spot at Fingal Picnic Area. From there we took the coastal track to Cape Schanck – 2.4km. The first part of the walk, meandering through the bushes, wasn’t too exciting. But you can’t expect a lot from a random track that you didn’t research and didn’t plan on doing. We walked quickly, chatting, thinking that we should have woken up earlier, come here earlier and we wouldn’t have to change the plan and add this boring… Suddenly, my jaw dropped (to which I have a photographic proof, captured by Hubby).
Quick lesson #2: being spontaneous instead of planning trips meticulously may be surprisingly interesting.
I’m not sure how much time this 2.4km track takes because we probably spent 30 minutes on the first lookout alone. Taking in the views, watching the rolling waves, being mesmerised by the shades of blue & turquoise in the water and spotting surfers down below.
All that time we saw maybe 5 people, while the Cape Schanck boardwalk (which we will get to in a moment) was getting more and more crowded. Fingal & Gunnamatta beach tracks go down from that jaw-dropping lookout and are next on our “to be visited on a long-weekend” list.
Cape Schanck boardwalk
When we finally made it to the start of the Cape Schanck boardwalk it was packed. If you’ve ever seen the 12 Apostles on a weekend then you know how crowded it can get. It was a very slow walk down to the rock pools and a very slow climb (good workout too!) back to the top.
Crowded or not it is worth a sweat. Stunning views of the lighthouse & colourful rock formations.
At this point, we had almost no water left in our bottles and had to scratch the idea of going on the Bushrangers Bay trail. Instead, we walked back to the car and it was time for quick lesson #3: never underestimate the power of the sun in Australia. Even in autumn. Bring a lot of water, sunscreen and a hat.
Afternoon in Mt Martha
We drove to Mt Martha for late lunch & coffee. We picked up a rather average fish & chips at a local shop & great coffee at Via Battisti and headed down to the beach. It was a gorgeous day for sunbathing and dreaming – we were so in awe of the area we started thinking if maybe we should move there.
This one sunny autumn day has changed all my assumptions about Mornington Peninsula and now it’s proudly seating in the top 5 of my Favourite Places in Victoria list. And now I’m wondering, what other places near Melbourne I might have overlooked?