Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Living in Mornington Peninsula

Iyna Bort Caruso

For generations of families, spending summers in Mornington Peninsula, a beachside suburb 40 kilometers southeast of Melbourne, Australia, is a time-honored tradition.

That’s when tourism drives the economy and the seasonal population balloons making Mornington Peninsula one of the most populous seaside vacation spots in the state of Victoria.

Beaches that include both calm, protected waters and open seas draw sun-worshipers, while underwater wrecks and reefs attract scuba divers. The peninsula also offers golfing, equestrian trails, a popular, long-running weekly market and an abundance of nature.

The peninsula is a biosphere reserve with more than a dozen parks and wildlife sanctuaries. They include some of the world’s largest koala breeding grounds and conservation areas in which nightly walks are scheduled to observe nocturnal animals.

The region is also in the center of the Pinot Coast Wine Trail, a 750-kilometer long network of vineyards that extends from Geelong to Gippsland. Grapes were first planted in 1886 and the cool maritime climate along this corner of Australia has produced well-regarded pinot noir and several other varietals ever since.

Many visitors and holiday homeowners in Mornington Peninsula are Melbournians. A 90-minute drive from Melbourne’s downtown business district makes it an easy weekend getaway. An increasing number of Mornington enthusiasts, however, are making their way from China.

Multigenerational families are mainstay buyers here, and many homes are built to accommodate large groups. The area has also become an architectural showcase for inventive interpretations of the traditional Australian beach house. They include mansions on top of cliffs and dunes, glass pavilions where nature has the starring role and beach “shacks” and “sheds” playfully and luxuriously reinvented. As in other areas of Australia, home purchases here are both by auction as well as traditional sales transactions.