Escape the city like a Melburnian and head to Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, with its mix of windswept coastlines, rolling farmland and the Mediterranean-clear waters of Port Phillip Bay. Here are our top picks:
1. Farm Gates
Tiny towns dotted through the countryside include character-filled Flinders, where you can antique-shop before pulling up a beanbag under a shady tree outside Pier Providore for coffee and cake. Or, head over to 2 Macs Farms to stock up on 'Beyond Free Range Eggs' and raw honey. If you time it right, you could experience a 'Forgotten Skills' cooking class or a 'Slow Sunday Lunch' in a harvest kitchen.
2. Blue Moon Cottages
Located in Rye, the mid-point to many of Mornington Peninsula's attractions, the cosy and private Shoal Croft Blue Moon Cottage provides the perfect retreat atmosphere in a home-away-from-home self-catering style. A log fire, spa bath and private courtyard with established gardens provide a pretty setting in a quiet suburban street. It's a short stroll from the coast and shops, including The Independent Wine Store, where you can order a picnic hamper made with local produce to enjoy back at the cottage.
3. Wine and Dine
Experience a wine tasting on the Crittenden Family's 30-year-old vineyard overlooking the lake where winemaker and award-winning 'Young Gun of Wine' Rollo Crittenden once fished for eels as a child. His wife Linda has beautifully renovated onsite lakeside villas for the ultimate vineyard escape and the restaurant, Stillwater at Crittenden, has a reputation as one of the Peninsula's finest.
4. Tree Surfing
Pull on your harness and slap on your helmet for tree surfing alongside possums as part of The Enchanted Adventure Garden. Your kids can teach you just how much braver and steadier they are than you, with a walk on the Nippers Ropes course, leaving you behind at the kids' only final circuit. There's also every kind of maze, from a traditional hedge maze to a spooky 3D maze, as well as tube slides. Although it's thrilling, it's also a relaxing experience, because of the beautifully maintained gardens throughout the site.
5. On the Water
Bordered by water, options abound for water sports on Mornington Peninsula. Choose from surging surf at breaks such as Gunnamatta or head to Point Leo, where you can top up on boards and wetsuits at the iconic Trigger Brothers store. There's also SUP or sailing on an historic wooden couta sailing boat at Sorrento, as well as fishing with Fish N Trips on their Plover, a 1942 ex-Royal Australian Army boat. On the Plover, you can catch fish, as well as enjoy a marine experience with the possibility of dolphin and seal sightings. There's always time for a cup of tea and a lamington in between fish bites on your line.
6. Soak it Up
If you're missing home, head to the thermal Peninsula Hot Springs with the familiar sulphur smell and a handful of hot pools set in a bush setting. At the very top of the property is a hot pool overlooking stunning views of rolling hills and cows grazing. There's also a Turkish steam bath, a reflexology walk along a pebbled floor and cold plunge pools to cool down in. Afterwards, feel virtuous with a raw bliss ball and a golden latte, made with turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, ginger and honey.
Air NewZealand flies direct toMelbourne, with one-way seat fares from $241.
The Mornington Peninsula is an hour's drive from Melbourne CBD.
The writer was a guest of Blue Moon Cottages