Red Hill might appear a sleepy region, but scratch the surface and it becomes evident you’ll need several trips to do it justice.
The Red Hill area’s name comes from the rich red clay that’s been luring agriculturalists, graziers and vignerons to the region for the past 200 years. Red Hill used to be prominent dairy country. But in recent times farmers have switched cows for vines, and now cool-climate grapes such as pinot noir and chardonnay are a feature of the area’s real estate.
The region is also ripe with apple orchards, top-notch cafes, a fromagerie or two, and various small high quality, multi-purpose businesses.
Visually, Red Hill is stunning. Driving inland from Arthurs Seat through Red Hill and out towards Western Port Bay, the tree-lined roads dip through leafy valleys and open onto vast plains of farmland that extend all the way to the shimmering blue ocean.
Don’t forget to pack an Esky because there will be plenty of foodstuffs you’ll want to bring home. We hear Uber is a popular service in the hills, so there’s no need to debate over who gets to be the designated driver between cellar doors.
Welcome to Red Hill
From orchard to bakery, paddock to fromagerie, and garden to cafe – food in the hills is driven by local produce.
Vignerons have been drawn to Red Hill’s rich soils since the 1970s. But it’s not all about wine here. Bookend your tastings with locally made spirits and cider.
After retiring, John Mitchell started growing and making wine as a hobby. Things quickly grew out of hand. Now, Montalto encompasses seven vineyards and more than 30 acres of vines. As a retirement project, it’s unquestionably a failure: Mitchell and his wife Wendy are busier than ever. By every other metric though, Montalto is a resounding success – it’s one of Red Hill’s must-visits.
From walking tracks through native forest, to tree surfing and horse riding, Red Hill is rich with opportunities to interact with nature.
Endeavour Fern Gully
There are many walking tracks woven across the Mornington Peninsula, but Endeavour Fern Gully is particularly special. This two-kilometre round-loop trail winds through the Peninsula’s oldest patch of rainforest, allowing a rare look-in at the region’s indigenous vegetation. It’ll take you 30–45 minutes to explore the 17.5 hectares of lush forest and fern-filled gully. You’ll pass kangaroos resting in the shade, deep hollows in trees where Aboriginal peoples used to smoke eels, and plenty of towering manna gums and stringy barks in this diverse habitat. The track is open every day (except on days of total fire ban) and enclosed footwear is recommended. Make sure to leave a gold coin donation to support revegetation and preservation of the property.
Tree Surfing at the Enchanted Adventure Garden
The last time you were on a high-ropes course was probably a school excursion. Reminder: climbing around on ropes and trees is still a whole lot of fun. The Enchanted Adventure Garden at Arthurs Seat offers tree-surfing courses for both adults and children, with more than 50 aerial obstacles and bridges, including a Tarzan swing and five zip-lines to test your balance, strength and courage. Courses run for one or two hours, and there’s a maze, canopy walk and tube slide for even the most adrenaline-seeking punters.
Red Hill Community Market
The Red Hill Community Market had just 28 vendors when it opened in 1975. Now it boasts more than 300 stalls selling handcrafted goods and homegrown produce. It’s a mash-up of seasonal produce and craft, and leans towards being more of a makers market with a handful of farmers positioned throughout. But there’s plenty of food and drink options, too – from homemade lemonade and savoury tarts, to paella, tacos and those spiralled potatoes on a stick. There’s a strict policy that the stallholder must be the maker or grower, so you know you’re speaking to the person who grew the apples or made the cheese before you buy it. Grab a coffee and a canelé and wander through the maze of stalls before picking up some handmade pasta for dinner.
Horseback Winery Tour
Red Hill is ripe with wineries. One novel way to travel from tasting to tasting is on horseback. Horseback Winery Tours depart from Main Ridge and over a two- or three-hour walk, visit the cellar doors of T’Gallant, Green Olive, Mantons Creek, Red Hill Estate, Mock Orchard and the company’s own Prince Hollow Estate. The team at Horseback Winery Tours will match you with a horse and teach you all the basics for mounting, steering and stopping, so you can quickly become acquainted with your steed and turn your attention to eyeballing the lush, leafy vistas between vineyards. Tours operate every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
From an architectural home stay, to a design-savvy hotel, accommodation on the peninsula is easy on the eye. Check out even more places to stay in Red Hill.
Autumn adventures in the hills
Make the most of the cooler autumn weather by exploring Red Hill’s vineyards and orchards. There’s plenty of farm-to-table fare and cool-climate wines, along with cheese and sweets.
Endeavour Fern Gully
Red Hill VIC
Endeavour Fern Gully
Before you become too enamoured with the region’s impressive liquid offerings, spend some time wandering the peninsula’s oldest patch of rainforest. It’s an easy two-kilometre track that winds past towering eucalyptus and lush native shrubs.