With just a short drive from Melbourne, you can find yourself in Mount Martha. This gorgeous and popular holiday destination in the Mornington Peninsula has been drawing in travellers from all over the region for many years due to the vistas that overlook the Port Phillip shoreline.
However, if you are somewhat of an amphibious traveller, you and Mount Martha are made for each other too, as the waters here are warm and provide plenty of aquatic adventure. The Balcombe Creek estuary that whisks down Mount Martha into the bay makes for ideal boating and swimming.
By Matt Pruys
Mount Martha Cliff Top Walk
Many people will spend their entire day walking up the track at Mount Martha. From the top of the peak, you can even see Mornington and the rest of Port Phillip Bay, so you will no doubt be snapping many photos during your trek. This steep walk is around 5.5 kilometres one way, so it it is not for the faint of heart. However, the vast amount of flora and fauna provides plenty of shade in the summer and protection from the gusty breezes from the bay in the winter, so there's no reason not to enjoy this track year-round. Don't forget to bring your four-legged friend! This track is dog-friendly and is a hot spot for locals.
Mount Martha Golf Course
One of the best regions for golf is Port Phillip Bay, and once you tee off at Mount Martha Golf Course, you will clearly see why. While the views are nothing short of spectacular here, the newly refurbished bunkers keep even the most experienced golfers guessing. The smooth grasses here also provide an ideal environment for all levels of drivers and putters.
Mount Martha Public Park
If you would rather snap a few photos of the peak itself, you need to head to Mount Martha Public Park, which boasts 500 hectares of astounding granite formations. Because of this natural wonder, this park is a wonderful place to witness native wildlife. However, one of the main reasons travellers like to visit here is due to the the boardwalks throughout the park, which allows people to see the peak from the ground and witness indigenous creatures and plants.
There are four main beaches in Mount Martha, all suiting a different personality. From scenic sunbathing to surfing, you can bet that time in the sand is pastime here, and with the bay in the distance, it's easy to see why. All four of these stretches of sand - Dava, Birdrock, Cragie and Hawker beaches - face west, so there are plenty of breathtaking vistas to view no matter where you plop down your towel. If you'd rather scavenge the sands, make it a point to visit Fossil Beach - whose name suggests exactly what it is famous for. There are several fossil deposits to check out here, some of which are believed to be millions of years old.
The Briars allows travellers to roam through the historic 19th century homestead and gardens and learn about the beginning years of this charming community. You won't have any trouble finding it, as The Briars are situated at Mount Martha. There are also knowledgeable homestead guides that are available between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so be sure to get here early!
There are several things to see and do here, including roaming through the wildlife sanctuary and woodlands, exploring the Balcombe Estuary Boardwalk, viewing the environmentally friendly items at the eco-living display centre or visiting the Shire Nursery, which specialises in native and indigenous plants.
There are several restaurants that are listed on the Australian Good Food & Travel Guide, showing that despite its small size, Mount Martha offers up some great grub.
Josephine's: This high-end eatery is located at The Briars and features a fantastic a la carte menu that boasts foodie favorites like twice-roasted pork belly and prawn and chorizo penne. Local beer and wine round out the menu.
Southbeach Cafe: This charming little spot offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant was a general store until the 1970s, but the locale caught fire and burned. However, the restaurant that stands today offers delectable goodies like wood-fired pizza, Tandoori chicken and roasted pumpkin salad.