Explore the Mornington PeninsulaA weekend in the Mornington Peninsula is always a good idea and with an antique trail to follow around Victoria’s glorious southeast - wining, dining and finding has become the road trip du jour.
Heading out along the back roads that snake across this narrow stretch of land jutting out into seas of shimmering blue, Tyabb, a sharp inhale towards the west of Mornington, is the epicentre of antiques and home to Australia’s largest antique and collectable store – The Tyabb Packing House.
This place is literally packed and you need good trawling skills to find the treasures, but if you do, this intriguing diorama of discard tells a fascinating story of the region too. I found items dating back to the first European Settlers in 1803, including modest tools and equipment believed to have felled the giant native She Oaks to make way for the fruit orchards that now populate the Peninsular. And The Packing house is an antique in itself, paying homage to its history as an apple storage facility and right next door is the Tyabb Grain Store, which together, formed the platform of the incredible food bowl that the Mornington Peninsular is famous for.
While the Peninsular has a rich history of pioneering and agriculture, its maritime past, which includes access to three very different coastlines, also ensures there is plenty on offer for those that prefer salt to dirt. I dug up some amazing relics from days long past including salvaged items from ships that had met their fate in the treacherous waters of Bass Strait on the Peninsula’s southern tip and a buoy from the Rye Pier that would have spent countless years bobbing in the calmer waters of Port Phillip Bay.
With seven antique stores in Tyabb alone and What’s Not Antiques and Oldwares in Rosebud, Marlene Miller Antiques in the main street of Sorrento and another four in Cook Street Flinders well worth checking out, the search was an enjoyable journey that ducked and weaved through coastal and country villages, criss-crossing the Peninsula to end in Flinders, a sleepy little hamlet overlooking the moody waters of Western Port Bay.
Antiquing is indeed a pleasurable pastime, especially when you combine the hunt with time to meander through the stunning seaside villages fringing Port Phillip Bay. Boasting breathtaking views and cafes serving excellent coffee and cake – particularly the Old Bank Cafe on the pier end of Mornington and over 50 cellar doors offering everything from the awarded Pinot Noir at Paringa Estate to the Gamay being nurtured at Eldridge Estate Red Hill.
Filling your boot with farm fresh produce is easy, so be sure to stop at Red Hill Cheese, where you can even learn how to make your own or let the master cheese maker do all the work while you sit back and sample a selection of 12 cheeses for less than $10.00. There are pick your own strawberries, cherries and blueberries from Sunny Ridge Estate Strawberry Farm, hand painted Belgium chocolates from Mornington Peninsular Chocolates and a host of farm gates that offer produce on an honesty system (usually about $2.00 a bag) for herbs, pumpkin, olives and tomatoes. The Morning Peninsular is an easy drive of just over an hour from Melbourne. Leave plenty of room in your boot for goodies but also be prepared for a lesson in history with a unique insight into the culture that built the region and how a whole lot of the gourmet goodies are proof that the pain of those early settlers has indeed blossomed into the plentiful prosperity they had hoped it would for their future generations.
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