The gardens at Ashcombe are home to Australias Oldest and most famous Hedge Maze, the worlds first circular Rose Maze, and the Ashcombe Lavender Labyrinth & Lavender Gardens. They are also home to 25 acres of Woodland Gardens with numerous features: the Orchard, the Pot Garden, the Rock Garden, the Summer Garden, the Scented Garden, the Herb Barrels, the Small Woodland, the Lower Woodland, the Centre Garden, the Lily Pond, the Apple Grove, the Koala Food Trees, the Windmill, Seven Tiers Waterfall, and Lake Ashcombe.
Australia’s oldest and most famous traditional Hedge Maze stands over 3 metres high and 2 metres thick. With four mosaic flags to find in each half of the hedge maze, the hundreds of metres of winding paths take you through the South Maze into the Centre Garden before you tackle the North Maze. The North Maze is a totally different layout to the South Maze, so any tricks you worked out while making your way through the first part, mean absolutely nothing in the other!
The story goes that Ashcombe has a resident Garden Gnome; Mazey Mike. Mazey Mike lives at Ashcombe Maze and looks after the gardens. He regularly has gnome and fairy friends to visit. They have a lot of fun dancing around the gardens in the moonlight after dark – because that’s what gnomes and fairies do. But during the daytime, they sleep in the gardens, and we were lucky enough to spot some of them!
The lavender labyrinth at Ashcombe Maze is part of 3000 square metres of garden development set on the rolling hillside overlooking the incredibly picturesque Ashcombe Arboretum. The 4000+ lavender plants have been used to create the winding paths of the lavender labyrinth leading to a viewing platform floating above the lavender. Careful plant selection and garden design ensures a garden that has lavender in flower for twelve months of the year.
The Rose Maze at Ashcombe is the Oldest circular Rose Maze in the world – planted with more than 1200 bushes and 217 different varieties chosen for their color and perfume. The object of a Circular Maze is to try and find your way into the Central Arbour. It is actually a lot harder than it looks. And of course, once you get into the Centre you have to remember how you go there and see if you can get out.
The Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove is a multiple award-winning winery, restaurant and sculpture garden complex, located at Red Hill in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula. Montalto is perhaps the quintessential wine and food travel experience in the Mornington Peninsula, if not Victoria, and is a must-visit experience.
At the Moonraker Dolphin & Seal Sightsee Cruise in Sorrento, we got to cruise, see, and learn about Australian Fur Seals at Chinaman’s Hat, Gannet colony at Popes Eye Marine Park, Bottlenose Dolphins at Port Phillip Bay. We had the freedom to walk around the boat and enjoy the many changing sights.
Bottlenose dolphins are cetaceans, the animal group that includes all whales and dolphins. Dolphins are in the cetacean family of toothed whales. It was a magical feeling to watch them swim and frolick in the clear water. We were also surprised that they were much bigger than we expected, averaging between 2-4 metres in length and weigh around 200kg!
The Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator or Sula bassana, also Australian Gannet, Tākapu) is a large seabird of the gannet family Sulidae. These birds are plunge divers and spectacular fishers, plunging into the ocean at high speed.
Chinaman’s Hat, a local spot where the ever curious Australian Fur Seals are lazing about and enjoying life. The Australian Fur Seal, Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus is the largest of all the fur seals. They can grow up to 2.3 metres in size and weigh up to 360kg (males), 113kg (females).
After our cruise, we took a walk around Sorrento’s commercial centre located at the bay end of Ocean Beach Road. This attractive boulevard features a variety of shops, restaurants and cafes with its major landmark being the multi-storey Continental Hotel which was built out of limestone in 1875.
We stopped at Mount Martha Beach on our way from Sorrento to Mornington and enjoyed the fabulous views, white sandy beach, clear waters, and beach boxes. Mount Martha has its roots dating back to the 1840s when the township’s major role was that of farming.
Mount Martha beach dotted with its iconic beach boxes ($65,000).
Schnapper Point @ Mornington – The town is set on a picturesque boat harbour overlooking Port Phillip Bay and has a stunning coastline of red bluffs with scenic cliff top walking trails on one side and a beautiful beach lined with colourful bathing boxes on the other. There always seems to be something happening in the town of Mornington with its popular racecourse, weekly Main Street market and monthly racecourse market and food and wine events.
We took a stroll up Main Street and explored the many speciality shops, and dined alfresco at DOC. Since 1963, the DOC label has been used by the Italians as a standard that requires food, and especially wine, be prepared and produced within a specific region using methods that satisfy a certain definition of quality.
Tony Nicolini is all about creating the Italian experience. The tomatoes come from San Marzano, the truffle oil from Chianti, heck, he even imports the waiters, sponsoring young Italian hospitality students to work in his restaurants.
This is where you come if you want pizza like Italians eat - simple and brilliant combinations that don’t overload the crust or the palate. It’s thin, it’s crispy, it’s the way pizza should be. Pizza ai Porcini – an incredibly rich offering of porcini and wild mushrooms with grated pecorino, mozzarella and truffle oil.
This post is one of an 11 part entry of our trip to Victoria, Australia.
See all the places we visited on this trip below:
- Dandenongs – Sherbrooke, Puffing Billy, Sassafras
- Geelong – Wool, Waterfronts, Bollards
- Great Ocean Road – Gibson Steps to Bay of Islands
- Great Ocean Road – Lorne, Apollo Bay, Cape Otway Lightstation
- Melbourne – Gardens, Aquarium, Gaol
- Melbourne – MCG, Yarra River, Southbank, St Kilda
- Melbourne – QVM, City Sights and Streets
- Mornington Peninsula – Dolphins, Mazes, Vinyards
- Phillip Island – Chocs, Koalas, Penguins, Nobbies
- Phillip Island – Churchill Island
- Yarra Valley – Healesville Sanctuary, Wine, Cheese