This post is a prequel to Out of town, out to lunch.
One of the main strengths of the Mornington Peninsula as a destination for holiday-makers and day-trippers is the wide range of attractions and recreational opportunities.
These include safe, clean bayside beaches; rugged oceanside back beaches with waves for surfers – my son, Julian is a regular visitor – and rockpools for the curious; the many wineries; coastal walk trails and national parks; horse-riding, for novices and pros alike; Victoria’s biggest strawberry farm; cheese producers; and so on.
On our recent visit, we decided to take advantage of the idyllic Spring weather and visit Point Nepean National Park for the first time. As recently as the 1990s, this area was controlled by the Australian armed forces. A large quarantine station had been established from 1852 onwards, to cope with the disease risks associated with the huge influx of migrants that was initially triggered by the Victorian gold rushes. About 50 buildings, of various shapes and purposes, are still intact and are gradually being restored. The area also became home to a series of small forts, installed with guns from the 1880s onwards to ward off enemy ships in the event of hostilities; in fact, the first shots fired by British allies in the first world war were fired here to prevent a german merchant vessel from leaving Port Phillip Bay.
Most of this was new information for Maggie and me, as were the views from Point Nepean itself, across The Rip – the narrow safe passage into the bay – towards Point Lonsdale. We will definitely go back there soon to explore more widely. To learn more, visit http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/point-nepean-national-park
One of the best known attractions on the peninsula is the Red Hill Market, the largest regular craft market in Victoria. This event is held at a large outdoor recreation complex on the first Saturday of each month, from September to May.
So, as we were booked to have lunch at Paringa Estate on Saturday 6 September, we decided to spend at least an hour at the market beforehand. On previous visits, I had found the vast majority of stalls to be of little personal interest; after all, I usually go to an outdoor market to buy supplies for our kitchen. Amazing isn’t it, the way grandchildren change the way you look at craft stalls? (However, I still can’t come at organic soy candles!)
One stall that we found attractive was Red Earth Toys, operated by Laurie & Trish Simmons from Omeo, one of Victoria’s more remote towns. While Maggie browsed, I focused on the wooden tool boxes, each complete with seven wooden tool-facsimiles, all made neatly from lightweight wood. 10 minutes later, we had possession of a perfect present for each young son of Maggie’s two children.
You can find Red Earth Toys on faceBook.
We then returned to a stall that we had noticed soon after we arrived, Bloss Decor, whose products include handcrafted wooden blocks, adorned in various ways including the letters of children’s names.
Here is what we ordered for our two youngest grandchildren, aged eight months and five months, respectively. Bloss Decor can also be found on faceBook. Thank you Stephanie!
On a not-at-all-serious note, look casually at the next two photos. What are these people doing in full public view? Oh, it’s NOT a portable urinal, it’s a mobile ATM! With two machines!
That alone tells you how popular the Red Hill Market is.