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Melbourne's Seaside Getaways

Diving into the water in Portsea, in southern Australia, an hour southwest of Melbourne.

Photo: Mark Roper

Shop

Shopping here is limited; the best boutiques line Sorrento’s wide main street. The eclectic Gallery Sorrento has rotating exhibits by Australian artists such as Rick Matear, whose moody paintings often feature the Mornington Peninsula. For flirty summer dresses and linen skirts and tops, Debs Boutique showcases up-and-coming Australian designers like Thurley and Lisa Brown. Seed has exquisite children’s clothing, including colorful bathing suits (or cossies, as the Australians call them).

Do

The tip of Mornington Peninsula is flanked by calm bay waters and surf-worthy ocean beaches known for their windswept natural beauty. Our favorite swimming spot: Shelley Beach, halfway between Portsea and Sorrento, for its clear shallow waters and powdery white sand. Keep an eye out for pods of bottlenose dolphins offshore. Save time to explore Point Nepean National Park, at the tip of the peninsula, where you can see black wallabies, blue-winged parrots, and long-nosed bandicoots. At Peninsula Hot Springs, 15 minutes southeast of Sorrento, natural mineral springs feed indoor and outdoor pools and baths.

Wines

The region’s 50-plus vineyards and cool maritime climate varieties have made wine tasting another peninsula highlight. A modest dirt road leads to Moorooduc Estate, where vintner Richard McIntyre’s earthy Shiraz and wood-fired pizzas (served only on weekends) have a cult following. Ten Minutes by Tractor Wine Co. has made a name for itself with its rich Chardonnays. And the most impressive winery is Port Phillip Estate. Try the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the tasting room, a striking space with ribbed wood ceilings and views of the 60-acre property.

Additional reporting by David Hay.

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