Picture this: Local travel restrictions are lifted, it’s a crisp winter’s day and you get handed an office-free day pass. The brief includes a chic car, a scenic drive, and the promise there will be lots of great food along the way. It’s an easy sale.
It has been a challenging time for those living in Melbourne of late, and for many of us that has meant having our movement restricted close to home. In fact, as I write this, I’m sitting at home, in a 14-day lockdown with a limited travel limit.
But, when those restrictions do finally ease, what better way to celebrate than hopping in your car and hitting the road to take in some of the most beautiful sights this country has to offer. Thankfully, Victoria has an abundance of incredible destinations at our disposal – and they’re not hours away.
Conveniently, this adventure took place before the latest restrictions came into effect. And the location of choice? I decided to venture to the Mornington Peninsula, which is just over an hour’s drive from the city.
My wheels? The 2021 Peugeot 3008 GT Sport, which is an all-new grade in the 3008 line-up. Pricing starts at $54,990 plus on-road costs, and our 3008 was finished in Celebes Blue which is a no-cost option.
And finally the theme? Well, with a French car as my buddy, it seemed obvious. I set out on a French tour, a Tour de France if you will, which meant I would soak up all the ‘Frenchness’ the Peninsula had to offer. Basically, that meant food. Yum.
The Mornington Peninsula is a stunning region south of Melbourne, and a perfect quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It boasts beautiful beaches, famous wineries and restaurants, plus stunning driving roads married to equally as stunning views.
I usually opt for the easy freeway drive which takes you south from the city, along the Monash Freeway to the big interchange near Dandenong. After that point, it’s an easy drive down Eastlink and Peninsula Link to the Peninsula itself. If you want to avoid tolls and prefer a bit more of a scenic route, there’s the option of travelling along Port Phillip Bay via the Nepean Highway.
The Peugeot 3008 made the perfect companion offering a comfortable drive and providing just enough punch from its 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.
Our first stop was the Mt Eliza French Bakehouse, which is a small, family-run bakery. And a popular one at that as most of its food is sold out by 2pm every day. Luckily, I called ahead for my baguettes and croissants. I’m not sure why I purchased so many French sticks but the team back at the office were sorted for lunch the next day.
A quick scoot down the Nepean Highway, taking in some stunning real estate, took me to our next destination in Mornington.
To continue our French journey we visited Chocolat in Mornington, a well-known, rustic French patisserie located on Barkly St, just off the main drag. What I initially thought would be a quick dessert stop ended up turning into an hour or so of indulging in delicious food. Lunch was a Croque Monsieur (ham and cheese toastie basically, but French) accompanied by many different flavours of macarons.
With the eating done and dusted for the time being, the next item on the agenda was to drive. And that we did. Arthur’s Seat is a Peninsula ritual and is famous for its breathtaking views and winding road, featuring plenty of hairpin bends.
It earned its name in 1802 when the first British explorers entered Port Phillip Bay and, due to its resemblance, named it after Arthur’s Seat hill in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The run up the hill is thrilling, with spectacular views over the bay and the surrounding areas. No matter how many times you’ve made this journey, it doesn’t get old. The panoramic views never cease to amaze.
The big reward comes once you reach the top with picturesque vistas across Port Phillip Bay and the Mornington Peninsula – and there are numerous lookout points to stop off at along the way, all ideal for the perfect Insta shot, if that’s your thing.
The descent through the hills is just as gratifying – the winding and then wide open roads, no other distractions to contend with, simply the joy of spending time behind the wheel and enjoying the sights. Driving, purely for the enjoyment of driving.
We drove along the historic route twice, because why not, before making our final stop of the day. Needless to say, the tour wouldn’t have felt complete without picking up some French champagne to take home. À votre santé!
The drive to, and along the Peninsula, was the perfect time out from the work desk, and a reminder to stop and take in some fresh air. If you get time on your visit, there are some great places to see, from the Mornington National Park and Arthurs Seat Eagle to the Peninsula Hot Springs and famous Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm. The Mornington Peninsula is certainly worth a visit once travel restrictions ease here in Victoria.
Finally, a big merci beaucoup to Peugeot for handing over the keys to the perfect road trip companion.