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10 free activities for Easter and the school holidays

Once again it’s Easter and school holidays and the age old question of what to do is ringing around Melbourne.  When checking the net for ideas I found some good but costly activities.  For families and the cash strapped some careful planning is needed to fix the “I’m bored” syndrome.  So to kick start your holiday preparations here are 10 free things to do on The Mornington Peninsula.

Hike from Point Leo to Flinders

There’s nothing quite like this hike to get to that exhausted but satisfied feeling at the end of the day.   And it doesn’t cost a thing.   This 10km walk is not for the fainthearted and you should carry food and water with you.   Details for this walk can be found here.

Coolart Homestead

Coolart homestead is a historic mansion in Somers.   You can explore the house, gardens and out buildings before having a picnic lunch on the lawn or a barbeque in the picnic area.  Then take a walk through formal gardens, coastal woodlands and wetlands before crossing the bridge over Merricks Creek to the beach and Westernport Bay.  You can combine bird watching with exercise and see how many different species of birds you can see.   The lagoon is a favoured breeding site for Australian white ibis and water birds.  Further information about Coolart can be found here and location details found here.

Let’s go on a Picnic

Picnics are a favourite holiday activity and The Mornington Peninsula has countless spots ranging from single tables at the start of a walking track or on a grassy foreshore to well maintained parks with barbeques, playgrounds and all facilities.   Some standouts are Sorrento Historic Park, Arthurs Seat, and Point Leo foreshore reserve. All have space for kids to run around while the adults relax over a coffee or glass of wine and plenty to interest within walking distance after lunch.

Markets

There’s something for everyone at a market and two of Melbourne’s most popular markets will be held over Easter.   The Red Hill market on Easter Saturday and Mornington Race Course market on Easter Monday have more than 200 stalls offering original, quality goods.  But free roadside parking is limited, there’s a charge of $3 for market parking, and you may not be able to resist the temptation to buy coffee, a tasty snack or a hand crafted creation from the talented and friendly stallholders.

Sorrento Portsea Artists Trail

The Mornington Peninsula’s wonderfully varied landscape has inspired some of Australia’s noted artists including Arthur Streeton, Albert Tucker, John Perceval and Isaac Whitehead.   These walking trails lead you to reproductions of the artist’s work located as close as possible to where he painted the scene.   The trails follow scenic coastline on both sides of the Peninsula from Sorrento Pier to Point King in Port Phillip Bay, and Sorrento Ocean Beach and St Pauls Beach on Bass Strait.  Details of the various walks can be found here.

Cape Schanck and Bushrangers Bay

Cape Schanck, the southernmost tip of The Mornington Peninsula is a spectacular rocky headland with 80 metre cliffs dropping to the wild rock platforms of Bass Strait.  There is a lighthouse, scenic cliff top walks and wooden stairs leading to the rocky beaches below.   Take care while exploring the rock pools as large unexpected waves can flood the platforms.   When you’ve investigated Cape Schanck take the 2.6 kilometre track from the car park to Bushrangers Bay.   The trail winds between grassy farmland and rugged basalt cliffs to the beautiful sandy beach in Bushrangers Bay.  The beach is wild and not patrolled, so unsuitable for swimming, but Main Creek flows across the beach to the sea providing a safe area for water play.  The track continues along Main Creek through some of the best stands of Coastal Banksia on the Peninsula to the Boneo Road car park.

Sea Winds

This 34 hectare property managed by Parks Victoria is noted for magnificent views of Port Philip Bay and the Mornington Peninsula.  The gardens are extensive with a combination of formal exotic designs with large lawns for families to rush about on and indigenous plantings of flora native to the area.  A feature of the formal garden is five William Rickets sculptures set into a rock wall.   There are electric BBQ’s, picnic facilities and a range of walking tracks to the summit of Arthurs Seat and other parts of the State Park.

Mornington Rose Garden

Some rose lovers believe that autumn is the best time for roses and what better place to see them than the Mornington Rose Garden.   Located in Mornington’s Civic Reserve on Dunns Road, the garden features roses from more than 200 varieties.   The garden was developed by volunteers who aimed to create a world class rose garden for residents and visitors to enjoy.   Opened in 2008 it continues to be maintained and improved by a dedicated band of rose loving volunteers.

Galleries

One of life’s great pleasures is to wander through a gallery looking at how artists interpret our lives and surroundings.   The Mornington Peninsula has many galleries, either displaying collections of work or devoted to a single artist.  Among them are excellent commercial galleries in Sorrento, Flinders, Mount Martha, and Mount Eliza. More galleries are listed here

Piers and Jetties

A walk out the pier is one of life’s joys whether the day is calm, clear and sunny or blustery and overcast with waves crashing beneath your feet.   The Mornington Peninsula has an abundance of piers ranging from substantial structures that started their lives as working docks for excursion steamers, fishing and cargo boats to historic jetties designed purely for pleasure.   You can choose from the large piers at Portsea, Sorrento, Blairgowrie, Rye, Dromana and Mornington on Port Philip Bay and Flinders and Hastings on Westernport.  Or find one of the many small jetties which dot the foreshore of Port Philip Bay from Portsea to Mount Eliza such as the delightful Camerons Bight at the end of Blairgowrie Beach.

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