YOU don't need to spend an arm and a leg to enjoy a day out in one of Victoria's most beautiful coastal regions.
There is an abundance of easily accessible and free or affordable activities to choose from on the Mornington Peninsula this summer.
Try this guide:
9am - Start the day at The Briars Park. It's rich in history and natural beauty with a wildlife sanctuary, heritage homestead, nursery and Eco-Living Display Centre, as well as walking trails, eateries and interesting artefacts. The Visitor Centre is a great place to start for a comprehensive overview of the best spots.
Easily accessible walking trails include the Wetland Walk (300m) and the Balcombe Creek Walkway (800m), which have comfortable boardwalks and a number of bird hides for spotting wildlife.
Entry is free and the park is open daily on the Nepean Highway, Mt Martha. Details HERE
10am - Next stop, Arthurs Seat Eagle where you can soar from the Dromana base station aboard one of the Eagle's aerial gondolas to the summit and take in the best views of the peninsula and across Port Phillip Bay to the city skyline.
The entire site is wheelchair friendly with accessible gondolas and car parking. At the base, award-winning restrooms cater for visitors with disabilities and mobility limitations. (Best Accessible Toilet in 2017 by MyTravelResearch.com, which runs the International Toilet Tourism Awards).
The area surrounding The Eagle offers beautiful nature walks with gentle slopes and spectacular lookouts. Grab some scones and tea at The Eagle Cafe, open daily from 10am, while enjoying stunning bay views.
Keep an eye on the website as various seniors' events such as Devonshire tea specials run at different times of the year.
Seniors Card return ticket $21 per person; scones and tea $10 per person. Open daily at Arthurs Seat Rd, Arthurs Seat. Details HERE
Around noon - Explore the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery. One of Australia's leading regional art galleries, it embraces traditional and contemporary art with a year-round exhibition program celebrating Australian and international artists.
The gallery often curates exhibitions that explore a connection to the local area including its history and coastal environment. The current exhibition, Sublime Sea: Rapture and Reality (until February 23), explores the power of the sea in our imagination.
Seniors Card entry $2; open Tuesday-Sunday at Civic Reserve, Dunns Road, Mornington. Details HERE
1.30pm - Lunch and farm tour of Main Ridge Dairy, a farmhouse, cheese factory and goat dairy. It features a stylish but rustic farm building where a glass of wine and sample cheese platter is intentionally affordable. Beer, cider, coffee and a range of giftware are also available.
2.30pm - Take a behind-the-scenes tour to see how the dairy farm is managed and meet "the girls" - the lively farm goats. You can see the herd being milked and, if visiting in spring, meet their young. Tours run on Saturdays twice a month; bookings essential.
Tasting cheese plate $10 per person; glass of wine $8 per person; farm tour $12 per person. Open Thursday-Sunday (farm tours on specific dates only) at Main Creek Rd, Main Ridge. Details HERE
3.30pm - Relax for the afternoon at Hickinbotham of Dromana. With more than 50 wineries on the Mornington Peninsula featuring cellar doors, don't pass up the opportunity for a tasting stop.
Hickinbotham of Dromana is known for its variety of award-winning wines, which include Tempranillo, Chardonnay with Aligote, pinot noir, merlot, shiraz and Strawberry Kiss.
Hickinbotham is part of the Wine Food Farmgate Trail, a collection of the best wineries and eateries across the peninsula. Other worthwhile spots on the trail include Green Olive at Red Hill and Main Ridge Estate.
Tasting flight (5 x 30ml sampler of wines) $20 per person. Open Wednesday-Sunday on the Nepean Highway, Dromana. Details HERE
6pm - Finish the day with fish and chips at the beach. Grab a classic seaside dinner at Go-Fish and head towards Mills Beach in the suburb of Mornington. This peaceful spot is a local favourite with its colourful boat sheds, coastal fauna and beautiful cliffs along the long stretch of beach.
Enjoy the sea air and the sand between your toes, or stroll along the boardwalk.
Classic flake pack $13 per person. Open daily in Main Street, Mornington.