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Exploring Flinders: Australia’s little coastal town wonder Down Under

Australia offers the curious traveler an endless range of experiences from the incredible nature of the outback and the barrier reef, as well as fantastic beaches and snowcapped mountains for some exceptional skiing. It has its thriving urban centers of Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne as well as countless small towns and villages scattered throughout this massive country.

In the south, 90 minutes from Melbourne is a small town that most would not have heard of. It only has a few streets, no street lights, but there is a roundabout or two. The town is Flinders and its claim to fame is its peaceful location, near the sea and with access to all the abundance that the Mornington Peninsula has to offer and the perfect  getaway from Melbourne’s manic pace. Flinders appeal is that it is a mainly undiscovered gem offering access to all the area has to offer as well as nights of relaxation at the upscale Flinders Hotel.

The hamlet of Flinders is located south of Melbourne at the southeastern end of the Mornington Peninsula in an area that has been overlooked by Melbourne’s urban sprawl. The town has one main street lined with a collection of lovely antique stores, boutiques, art galleries and a few restaurants.

One of the most popular spots is the turn of the century Flinders General Store which looks just as it did over 100 years ago. Inside there’s everything from local products, especially the fresh produce, artisan cheeses and meats. One must have is their Boscastle meat pies which are similar to what we would call a chicken pot pie but oh do they do them so much better. Throughout Australia, meat pies are a delicacy full of flavor, high quality ingredients and a fluffy flaky crust.

During the weekends Melbournians join international travelers and stroll along the city’s main strip and wander in and out of the boutiques picking up a local craft, painting or sculpture. There are some interesting characters who have settled there so its good to reserve an extra hour or two those unexpected encounters.

Once such colorful character who you’ll often find at work in his gallery is the talented watercolor artist, Hugh Evans. He’s in his 70’s now and now he spends his days creating wonderful artworks that have found their way from his lovely boutique to adorning the walls throughout Australia and around the world. His style is unique and riveting with lollipop forms on calming colored backgrounds giving these watercolor paintings a unique quality.

What makes Flinders so wonderful is that it is close enough to everything in the peninsula yet so much less crowded and busy A few minutes away, you’ll find yourself immersed in the heart of rural Australia with over 50 fantastic wineries with cellar doors waiting to welcome you to try their world class chardonnay’s and shirazes.

One of the top winery experiences in Australia if not the world is the newly opened Pt. Leo Estate. Here you’ll find an exclusive winery experience set amongst the priceless collection of soaring outdoor art in their sculpture park  overlooking Port Phillips Bay. Plan for an extended afternoon of swirling and sipping from their exclusive wine list. You’ll also want to plan for a gourmet lunch with ingredients sourced from nearby farms or the sea and of course hours of just strolling through their amazing outdoor art collection .

The Mornington Peninsula is a playground for foodies as well as lovers of the great outdoors with miles and miles of beaches, incredible nature walks, and the local’s favorite pastime, surfing. There’s also the Cape Schanck Lightstation at the Morning Peninsula State Park with its incredible miles and miles of beach with high waves and breathtaking rock formations. Plan for hours of trekking on the well maintained board walks where you’ll spot their resident kangaroos, swamp wallabies, possums and bats.

For those looking for the max relax experience, you will not want to miss the Peninsula Hot Springs which is an award-winning natural hot springs and day spa. The hot springs draw weary bodies seeking rejuvenation from the spring’s natural thermal waters. The setting is like a natural park with a pond in the center with wild birds and fauna adding to the serenity of the experience.

When it’s all over and done, there’s no place better than to come back to rest and restore at the Quarters at the Flinders Hotel. The Quarters at the Flinders Hotel was recently refurbished so it feels fresh and new with a striking retro exterior and inside is modern with an uber chic décor.

There you’ll find 40 impeccably furnished and spacious rooms with plenty of upscale amenities to make your stay comfortable. Each room has a clean and contemporary décor with original artwork depicting the coastal scenery of the area.

Rooms have king sized beds, flat screen TV with Foxtel channels, mini bar stocked with local produce, and large bathrooms with walk-in showers. Many of the suites have outdoor balconies which are more of an outdoor living space to look over the peaceful town or sip a glass of local chardonnay with your loved one at night.

As the sun goes down, guests need not go far for a little entertainment. The Flinders Hotel’s casual bar and bistro, Zigis,  is also the local hotspot which has also been remodeled to be cool and chic.   The Deck is also a hip eatery that offers delicious gastro pub food as well, offering a wide range of shared dishes,pub classics and modern Australian options. Victoria is one of Australia’s top wine producers so expect an extensive menu of local wine offers as well as beer and some pretty tasty cocktails as well.

The hotel has a second dining option mainly for gourmet country style farm to table brekkie, brunches and lunches at the Georgie Bass Café and Cookery. There you’ll find a tasty casual vibe to nosh amongst their boxes of herbs and vegetables and plenty of outdoor dining spaces. Love your meal (which you undoubtedly will) and they also have a comprehensive cooking class led by their talented gourmet chef.

All those who consider themselves to be a worldly traveler must put Australia on their short list if they haven’t already been. And when visiting for the first time, make it a long trip of at least two weeks so you’ll have time to visit the urban centers of Sydney and Melbourne.

And when in Melbourne, spend a few days out of town in the Mornington Peninsula and a stay in the Flinders Hotel. It’s a trip full of small town wonders that will stay with you long after the luggage has been unpacked back home.