School holidays are upon us, the sun is starting to stay a little longer, and all the parents you know are asking, "What the heck are we going to do with the kids over the break?!"
Of course, when it comes to beach days, bushwalks and playground hops, we are thoroughly spoilt for choice right across the Mornington Peninsula. But here are a few lesser-known family days out that won’t break the bank. Pack a picnic or support a local cafe with takeaway and head somewhere new for an adventure in your very own ‘hood.
Point Nepean National Park
If you're a local and you haven't spent a day exploring Point Nepean in Portsea, it's time to get on your bike. Literally. Whether you're a seasoned rider or feeling a little rusty on your cruiser, there are plenty of paths that will lead you to breathtaking views down the pointy end of the Ninch. You can also explore the historic Quarantine Station and Fort Nepean on foot. Spectacular.
Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary
Yes, this may be one of hundreds of beach day options, but Mushroom Reef in Flinders is a little extra. For starters, it's a marine sanctuary, meaning it's a 'leave it as you found it' kind of place. You're sure to find plenty of treasures, but remember to only take photos, memories and rubbish home with you. Head down within two hours of low tide to see the exposed mushroom-shaped reef and all the marine life it sustains, or pack your snorkel when the water is a little higher. And you can't leave Flinders without a quick stop at the Mornington Peninsula Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery in the village. It hits the spot every time.
Yawa Aquatic Centre
As well as the inbuilt, super-fun water play area setup at Yawa all year round, the new(ish) aquatic centre in Rosebud pulls out the stops with an inflatable obstacle course during school holidays. Book ahead to avoid disappointment, and maybe pack a pair of headphones to block out the cacophony of noise and gleeful screams.
The Arthurs Seat Eagle
So The Eagle isn't strictly low cost, but on a clear, sunny day, we class it as 100% WORTH IT. You'll feel like a tourist in your own town without the holiday price tag, and they have a Spring Festival running these holidays too. Make a day of it and explore the adjoining Seawinds National Park – beautiful all year round but particularly worth a visit with a packed lunch in the Springtime, when all the native shrubs and trees are blooming. You'll be rewarded with the best bird's eye view of the Ninch, hands down.
One of the Ninch's most underrated treasures, The Briars in Mount Martha is a unique 230-hectare conservation site comprising a wildlife sanctuary, heritage homestead, nursery, eco-living display centre and cafe. You can walk in along the Mount Martha estuary boardwalk, taking in an audio tour along the way, or save your energy for the various walking tracks on site. An array of public programs and events run throughout the holidays, including Junior Rangers, after-dark spotlight tours, stargazing and scavenger hunts. Say g'day to the resident long-necked turtles in the visitor centre, and fuel up at the fully-fenced (hello intrepid toddlers) onsite cafe Angus and Rose – which stocks locally-made ice cream amongst standard fare. Through summer and autumn, you can while away half the day picking a bucketful of roses to take home before you even leave the cafe. Bliss.
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery
Located in the booming Mornington Industrial estate, the MPRG has become the epicentre for arts and culture in the area – offering both exhibitions and public programs. Currently showing the National Works on Paper exhibition, the year-round education and events program levels up for the holidays.
After your visit, you can stroll around the Rose Garden and stop by the smaller artist-run Oakhill Gallery. Then shoot some hoops, get the footy out at Civic Reserve, hang at the skate park, or wander down the road for a coffee at Commonfolk.
Spare Parts Art Space
If you want to inspire your little Picasso to create their own artworks, you can book them in for a workshop at the delightful Spare Parts Art Space in Mornington. From photography workshops to arts and crafts to screenprinting, they've got a range of creative classes for little ones through to teens.
If you need a few more ideas to add to your list, check out Dinosaur World, Boneo Discovery Park, tree surfing at the Enchanted Maze, koala cuddling at Moonlit Sanctuary, a soak at Peninsula Hot Springs, late nights at Dromana Drive In, kids workshops and theatre at Frankston Arts Centre. Whichever you choose, you're guaranteed a fun day out for big and little kids alike.
We'll see you out there!