Rock pools, bushwalks, rolling hills and relaxation. In partnership with RACV Cape Schanck Resort, we highlight the best places to explore in and around this rugged natural wonderland.
The Mornington Peninsula is a well-established weekend getaway for Melburnians. But perched at the southernmost tip, there remains something wild about Cape Schanck.
It’s in the stunning coastal walks where visitors can navigate crystal-clear rock pools and sheer cliffs, as well as the rolling hills and surrounding valleys of bushland, farms, and national park. But it’s also evident in the alcoves of true local producers working in harmony with the land: the vineyards and breweries making rebellious drops; chefs balancing the cutting edge with classic; and accommodation options that mirror the region’s ambling, idyllic spirit – as well as some eccentric locals making gin from ant pheromones. Cape Schanck and surrounds is an oasis waiting to be explored.
Here’s our guide to discovering Cape Schanck – or returning for a fresh experience.
Welcome to Cape Schanck
Bridging the historic and modern, dining on the cape is relaxed yet sophisticated – and refreshingly diverse.
A modern, leather-clad dining room led by executive chef Josh Pelham that looks out over Fingal Beach.
Georgie Bass Cafe and Cookery
A combination cafe and cookery school.
A French-led farmhouse bistro offering boutique wines and fine food.
Red Gum BBQ
A friendly, semi-industrial space offering authentic American barbeque with large communal tables.
Merricks General Wine Store
An iconic 1920s homestead offering food, wine and art.
Handcrafted wine, gin and craft beer all thrive here, as up-to-the-minute innovation complements longstanding tradition.
Beautiful, boutique winery making wine by hand.
Eighty metres above sea level, this is one of the oldest vineyards on the Peninsula.
Bass & Flinders Distillery
A distillery making wine and small-scale gin with unusual ingredients.
St Andrews Beach Brewery
A big, family-friendly brewery on the site of a former horse-training facility.
Escape from the usual with ambitious, contemporary accommodation nestled into the cape's jaw-dropping natural landscape.
With beaches, gardens and farms right at your fingertips, expect to spend a lot of time outdoors. Then sink into the spa to unwind.
Enchanted Adventure Garden
Set quite literally among the speckled treetops of a century-old stringybark forest, the Enchanted Adventure Garden is an exemplary place to get lost. Actually, that’s entirely the idea: the park’s centrepiece is a traditional hedge maze with a Japanese garden at its centre – if you can traverse the dead-ends, switchbacks and general disorientation to find it. For those seeking a more physical kind of challenge, tree surfing is just the ticket. Plonk on a high-vis helmet, strap on a harness and get hoisted 10 metres aboveground, where you’ll navigate more than 50 aerial obstacles, including suspension bridges, cargo nets, a near-vertical rock-climbing wall, and an eight-metre-long Tarzan swing. The highlight, however, is the Double Big Zip, which at 170 metres is the lengthiest flying-fox in Victoria, which flings you out over the topiary gardens and ornamental lake. Kids love the Enchanted Adventure Garden, of course – but those without rugrats will find their inner child equally entertained.
Mornington Peninsula Coastal Walk
At 30 kilometres long, you might want a packed lunch if planning to conquer the entire Mornington Peninsula Coastal Walk. Beginning at the spectacular rocky outcrop at Cape Schanck, the path swerves its way along gravel tracks and dense scrub (home to white-footed dunnarts and southern brown bandicoots), across clifftops and headlands, down through the dunes onto sandy beaches, hopping across rock pools and skirting sleepy seaside villages to arrive in Point Nepean National Park. For those without a whole day to burn, the Coastal Walk can be chopped into five more manageable sections: the nine-kilometre from Gunnamatta to Rye Ocean Beach, for instance, where you’ll follow a horse trail and pass Boag Rocks; or take the 11-kilometre track from No. 16 Beach to Bridgewater Bay, built in the 1890s to facilitate the rescue of shipwrecked sailors. While the walk’s beautiful in both directions, for those with an aesthetic inclination, the best views can be found heading west to Point Nepean.
One Spa at RACV Cape Schanck Resort
The One Spa has been constructed for a single purpose: relaxation. Part of the RACV Cape Schanck Resort, One Spa has a dizzying array of options, from scalp therapies and body wraps, to detox therapies with head-to-toe Monticelli mud and hot-stone back massages, to showers of both the Swisse (six jets of water to pummel the muscles) and Vichy (seven types of warm rain showers moving across the body) varieties. In-house therapists are on hand to administer facials, mani-pedis, make-up artistry and style consultations, as well as waxing, skin and body treatments. The jewel of the One Spa, however, is its Hammam bathing space area– an elegant, contemporary take on the traditional Turkish bath. Inside you’ll find a relaxation pool with heavily salted water, a vitality pool with reclining lounges and pressure jets, and a thermal stone steam room where the walls, seats and floors are all heated while you’re showered with sprays of mist and steam.
Bushrangers Bay Walk & Cape Schanck Lighthouse
The Cape Schanck Lighthouse is an elegant, white limestone construction that first shone its beam over Bass Strait in 1859. Still operational today, the lighthouse continues to blink out the letter “N” in Morse Code to wary sailors traversing the waters below. Impressive as it is, Mornington’s great porch light isn’t even the most spectacular attraction – that honour goes to the jagged geological formation of Cape Schanck itself. Follow the boardwalk down from the clifftop carpark 80 metres above the ocean, down over the slick-black beach rocks and out onto the point for stunning views back across the bay. When you’re done, take a brisk 10-kilometre walk that hugs the coastline of Bushrangers Bay, then tracks inland through banksia forests and down through the valley creek to arrive at Boneo Road. If you’re hoping to spot a kangaroo or two – or even the elusive swamp wallaby – set out early to catch them with their breakfast.
Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm
Back in 1964, Pietro and Rosa Gallace didn’t even have a tractor. But, with the help of their three kids and a draught horse named Dobbin, the Gallaces turned their Sunny Ridge Farm into a berry powerhouse, filling more than 300 acres with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Sunny Ridge has since become one of the Peninsula’s most beloved tourist attractions, with more than 300,000 people making the journey south to pick their own strawberries. With your basket full of berries, return to the cafe for a Devonshire tea, handmade ice-cream or a chocolate fondue. The farm also serves as a cellar door for Cheeky Rascal Cider and Rebello Wines, run by third-generation Gallaces, Matthew and Ruth, whose Strawbellini Moscato is both unique and totally delicious.
A Day in Cape Schanck
Strike the perfect balance between relaxing natural backdrops and satisfying dining experiences with a leisurely day spent exploring and tasting.
Cape Schanck VIC
(03) 5950 8038
Cape at RACV Cape Schanck Resort
Executive Chef Josh Pelham (formerly of Estelle Bistro, Hellenic Republic and The Square in London) is cooking up world-class cuisine on the edge of the Australian mainland, using the very best of regional produce. Pro-tip: don’t skip the chicken wings.