Saturday, 22 December 2007


We just got back from a week at the beach, on Melbourne's Mornington Peninsula. I'd like to say that I am a completely organised person, and I chose to take our holiday the week before Christmas because there would be less people around on the beach before school ended on Friday, but the truth is I am so completely disorganised that I left it too late to book a beach house for January and this was the only week I could get!

Having said that, it was gloriously quiet on the beach and we had a wonderful, sunny week. I've never holidayed in this area before (we usually prefer the Bellarine Peninsula) and there were loads of places to explore. If you're heading over there this summer and it's your first time, here are a few suggestions...

Well the beaches are fabulous, Merricks and Balnarring are great for swimming and playing about with boards, but we also loved Somers for its rock pools and interesting walks before bedtime. Hayne Farm near Red Hill was awesome - a really chilled-out place where you can feed and pet all kinds of farm animals, take a hayride and get totally grubby.

On the one day that it rained we went to the new bowling alley at Rosebud and that was great, with friendly staff who the kids loved (there's an indoor swimming pool too). We also had a fun time at Ashcombe maze, getting lost and looking out for the gnomes and fairies. The rose maze was especially beautiful.

One thing though - the maze cafe is really disappointing, with rubbery, microwaved scones, weak tea and bad service, and no tap water available (this always annoys me). Very disappointing! If you head up Shoreham Road a little, towards Red Hill, there is a much better cafe called 'On The Hill' in the little shopping centre there, it has fantastic food and a little room full of toys and small tables for kids to sit and play, plus a good selection of mags and papers for grown-ups, and a super-lovely owner.

No, the temptation to thrift-shop in a totally new region was much too strong for me to resist! Everyone in our family loves op shops (it's the only time we allow the boys to buy plastic toys) and we managed to find at least one in each of the towns we visited. Balnarring has the best church op shop (recommended to me by my friend Beck), well worth a visit, as does Hastings, which also has a Salvo's and a Vinnies. There is a great Red Cross shop in Dromana too. Rosebud has no less that ten op shops, but they were pretty much lacking in decent vintage stuff, sadly. There is also a church op shop in Red Hill, which yielded a vintage Fisher Price Happy Houseboat (above) to add to my FP collection, for just $2! Here are some of my other oppy finds...

Aside from op shops, I found lots of special goodies at two huge antique centres - the Tyabb Paking House (the largest antique shop in Australia and totally awesome, yay!) and the Bottom Drawer at Morrooduc, which is especially good for old shop fittings, ads and signs.

There is a Sunday morning car boot sale at Dromana - there wasn't much on offer but I was totally awestruck by its setting in one of Australia's oldest drive-in movie venues, complete with its original 1960's signage. Cool!

Red Hill is a totally gorgeous area and there is a little shopping centre that is home to a couple of fab homewares shops (as well as the aforementioned On The Hill cafe). Red Hill House (one of our stockists) is beautiful, packed with unusual things for kids and home, while Tree is a stunning new shop in a huge old tin shed, run by Daniela of Succulent Designs, who I met at Magnolia Square. I guarantee you will love Tree and want to buy lots of things there. And watch this space - a new shop is about to open in the same cluster of shops, called 'Miss Kitty's Emporium'. I am particularly excited by the sound of this new shop, which will have a cafe serving tea and cakes on vintage crockery alongside rooms stuffed with vintagey gifts! The owners have ordered some Lark goodies to sell, yippee!

The peninsula is awash with fabulous wineries and top restaurants but, let's face it, with two small boys you aren't going to ever get the chance to enjoy one, so we concentrated on the more child-friendly places, like Red Hill Cheese, where we all had fun tasting a dozen different types of cheese. I am a sucker for old General Stores and the one at Merricks is gorgeous, stacked high with local goodies and with a great cafe too. We feasted on fish and chips from the chippy at Balnarring, which has lovely owners and the coolest vintage ice cream sign!

So that was our holiday, we all loved it but it's nice to be back home, with our cats and our Christmas tree and our own bed! If you are holidaying this season, have a good one!


Jodie said...

It sounds like you had a great time and thanks for all the op-shop info.
Happy christmas Eve

Virginie said...

thanks for all this lovely places, i think i m going soon to Red Hill it seams very intersting down there, and the Tyabb Packing House is also a very nice place to visit!!!!!! is where i have my little studio the rear of the packing house...come and visit me next time!!!!!
La Boheme (studio 18)

Meet Me at Mikes said...

Oooh.. nice work, Ms Allison! I think I might sneak a week away next year JUST to explore! Love the 'Faraway Tree' you found with those long lashed lovely children! xx

fiona said...

thanks for the tour guide! sounds like the area is worth a visit!happy new year!

leslie said...

thanks so much allison, this is just PERFECT!!! you know, i think i must have read this before, i'm sure it's what inspired me to get down there and take in all the goodness : ) and thanks for the offer of daylesford tips, i'll send you an email begging for info once we figure out when we're coming.