Hens Weekend on the Mornington Peninsula

As previously blogged, I recently went on a weekend away with a few of my best girl friends from high school to the Mornington Peninsula – for my pre-wedding hens celebrations! It was designed to be a low-key weekend of relaxation on a budget…and to that point, I think we succeeded.


We rented the Rest at Rye guest house on Airbnb, a holiday home designed for family groups. It’s very much designed for families who stay for a long visit and bring all their own supplies from toilet paper to cooking oil, but at the same time, more than suitable for our group of girls lounging around the house.


We made pasta for dinner on the first night, and spent the rest of the evening watching movies, and (healthily!) snacking on cut veggies and dips. Can I just say – the crispy bacon with caramelised onion dip by Black Swan is a revelation? I just couldn’t get enough of it!


The next morning, we made smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on English muffins for breakfast. It’s simple, but it’s also the type of breakfast that I rarely cook myself at home because it’s that much easier to have oats or a slice of toast. It’s definitely a weekend ‘special treat’ kind of a breakfast.


After breakfast we headed off to The Enchanted Adventure Garden, a popular family tourist destination on the Mornington Peninsula. The attraction features many different gardens, multiple mazes…


…some interactive fun like a life-size Snakes and Ladders game…


…and brain teasers like this car tyre game where you had to reach the centre tyre following a specific combination. There’s also some tyre slides (good fun!) and a treetop ropes course if you pay a little bit extra as well. All in all, a fun and active way to spend the morning before lunch at a dairy farm and strawberry farm.


Returning to our holiday house, we spent the afternoon walking down to Rye beach via this out-of-a-fairytale walkway bordered by twisted gnarled trees of yesteryear.


And clambered over rocks as we took a long walk on the beach.


Passed by rows of brightly coloured cabins on the beach, wondering how much they would cost and whether we would ever afford a luxury like this (short answer – no!).


Before wandering down the pier to watch the changing sunset skies and check out the daily catches of all the local fisherman.


When we got back to our holiday home that evening, we were prepped for a big dinner! Locally caught fresh oysters, BBQ’d lamb koftas and lamb chops, as well as three different salads: 1) beans, corn and parsley, 2) crunchy coleslaw; 3) Caesar salad. A feast fit for kings…or hens at least!


The next morning we had a quick breakfast of somewhat misshapen pancakes with some of the fresh berries we bought from Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm the day before.


Then we packed up and headed off to our final activity of the weekend – horse-riding at Ace-Hi ranch. This is my buddy Sal who took me on an hour-long trail ride – slow, steady, but keen on taking on her own path, Sal took every opportunity she had to stop and munch on fresh grass off the trail. Not only did my bum become sore from only an hour’s worth of riding, but my hands ached from gripping the reins and trying to keep her on track!

We finished our weekend with a late lunch at the Rosebud Hotel before heading back to Melbourne and the real world. All in all, I really couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing and carefree hens weekend away! It certainly ticked all the boxes that I was looking for, and I can’t wait to go back to the Peninsula the next time I spend a decent amount of time in Melbourne.

Review: Rosebud Hotel, Rosebud

On my recent hen’s weekend, we dropped into the Rosebud Hotel for a quick late lunch after a morning spent horse-riding. It’s a gorgeous art deco style building, right across the road from the beach. With a big outdoor beer garden and outdoor bar, there were heaps of people there enjoying a cold drink in the warm afternoon.


Hot after our morning horse-ride however, we elected to sit inside in the bistro, joining what looked like the entire local bowls club and a motorcycle enthusiasts club. Luckily, we managed to place our orders at the counter mere minutes before the bistro closed for last lunch orders at 2.30pm as we would otherwise have been limited to the small bites menu available at the bar.

Warm cous cous salad – crispy roasted root vegetables, cherry tomatoes, baby beetroots & chickpeas tossed with a olive oil & red wine vinaigrette cheese, with chicken ($24)

My health-conscious friend ordered the warm cous cous salad, topped with a generous serve of grilled chicken breast. The chicken lacks that smokiness that comes with perfectly grilled meat, but other than that disappointment, the salad was quite enjoyable. The sweet potato and beets really helped to offset the bitterness of the rocket, and the ratio of cous cous and chickpeas to vegetables was just right.

Roast of the day, $19

Another friend ordered the pub classic of the “Roast of the Day” – thinly sliced roast lamb on this particular day, absolutely slathered with thick gravy made from concentrated powder. The highlight here was probably the roast vegetables – the crispy skin of the chat potatoes and the soft sweet potato is very more-ish especially when you’re after a simple classic meal.

Daily special – grilled fish with greens

After something a little bit more special than standard pub grub, one friend ordered one of the daily specials of grilled fish with greens and a polenta smash. From memory, this was around $30, so a bit pricier than the other dishes on the menu. The serving size was surprisingly small for the price though, and my friend ended up picking some of the chips off my plate to fill her up. Not the best value meal on the menu!

Fish and chips, $20

The fish and chips was another classic pub meal choice, especially given that we were seaside on the Mornington Peninsula! Unfortunately the fried fish wasn’t as fresh as the seaside location might suggest, and the batter was too thick and gluggy as well. My friend ended up stripping away most of the batter and eating the fish sans batter to avoid a greasy oil overload.

Pie of the Day, $21

The arrival of my beef and mushroom “pie of the day” had everyone gasping with amazement at its sheer size. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something truly remarkable about a good pot pie that beats a normal pie, hands down every time. The chips were a bit so-so, and the salad overdressed, but there was really nothing to fault about the pie itself.


Ah, the money shot…prying off the crispy flaky puff pastry top to reveal the steaming hot, well-spiced and flavourful beef and mushroom stew mix inside. The photo doesn’t do justice to the size of this pie though – I barely touched my salad and chips, and still found it difficult to reach the bottom of this bowl.

There’s plenty of other eateries in the Mornington Peninsula that I haven’t tried yet, so I probably won’t be back to the Rosebud Hotel any time soon. There’s not too much to fault, but honestly standard pub grub can be found anywhere. I want something a bit more special on my next visit…perhaps one of the many winery restaurants in that area?

Rosebud Hotel on Urbanspoon

Review: Main Ridge Dairy and Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, Mornington Peninsula

Though I’ve now been living in Sydney for over three years, the truth of the matter is that my best girl friends are my high school friends, and they still live in Melbourne. I don’t regret moving cities – I enjoy the job that I moved for, the relationship that developed, and the lifestyle that I live here. But I still know that one day, I’ll move back to Melbourne for good.

When it came time to start considering a hens party for my upcoming wedding, I knew that I wanted two things – 1) a low-key relaxing celebration without strippers or penis straws and 2) for it be in Melbourne. With that in mind, I chose to have a quiet weekend on the Mornington Peninsula with a handful of my closest high school girlfriends. Walks on the beach, cooking at home, going to a few attractions, playing board games, having wines and dips and cheeses…it was all about the relaxing pampering.


One of the few places that we visited on the weekend was Main Ridge Dairy. It’s a goat farm and cheese factory located in Main Ridge on the Mornington Peninsula, in an area teeming with wineries and other working farms.


When you enter the modern building, the first thing you see is a big refrigerated cabinet displaying all the various goats cheeses made on site. Mmm, cheese…


Tucked away in a corner are a few shelves of goods that you can buy. From cheese platters and cheese knives, to little knitted goat toys and local jams and produce, it’s a cute area to poke around in while you decide what to order. I was sorely tempted to buy some cute locally made crockery, but then realised I would have difficulties bringing it back to Sydney in my hand luggage so sadly put it back on the shelf.

Goat Milk ($2), Chai (Seven Spice Sri Lankan Chai, $4.20), Latte (Red Hill Roast, $3.80), African Red Grounded Pleasures Fine Drinking Chocolate ($4.20)
Goat Milk ($2), Chai (Seven Spice Sri Lankan Chai, $4.20), Latte (Red Hill Roast, $3.80), African Red Grounded Pleasures Fine Drinking Chocolate ($4.20)

Amongst the few of us, we ordered a variety of hot drinks – and one brave friend just ordered a glass of goat milk which I tried and found incredibly strong-tasting. “It tastes like barbecued lamb chops!” I declared, and a few others agreed with me. I much preferred my fancy hot chocolate from the Grounded Pleasures range, which was amazingly thick, full and creamy.

The Full Goat Platter, $50
The Full Goat Platter, $50

We ordered the Full Goat Platter to share. Recommended for 2-8 people, we definitely struggled to finish it with five people, so I don’t see how two people could finish it! My pick of the bunch is probably the chevre and caprincilla for sheer more-ishness that wasn’t too strong in flavour. I also liked the yoghurt-like cashmere which came with some berry coulis – I could definitely see myself having more of that!


We sat around for a few hours eating the platter and watching the cute little baby goats run around their paddock and climb all over each other, playing “King of the Mountain”. I could quite happily have spent the whole afternoon there simply watching the kids and eating goat’s cheese. In fact, I think I’ll take my dad to Main Ridge Dairy next time I’m in Melbourne.

Main Ridge Dairy on Urbanspoon

Our next visit was to Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, just down the road from Main Ridge Dairy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite strawberry-picking season when we were there (we were about a month early!), but there was still plenty to see, do and eat!


A few of the girls tried the liquor tasting available in one corner of Sunny Ridge’s shop. I abstained as I’ve been a teetotaler since February, but the reports were definitely favourable! One friend walked away with a few bottles of the strawberry port and the cherry port which she said was surprisingly not as sickly sweet as anticipated.


There was plenty of local produce to go through as well, with one of my favourite displays being this endless shelf of mini-jams made from the fruits of Sunny Ridge’s own fields.

Despite all the other attractions available, the highlight of Sunny Ridge is their dessert cafe which takes advantage of the fresh berries and fruits that they produce, as well as the other locally-sourced gourmet products. Given that we had only eaten goats cheese for lunch that day, we decided to order a dessert each…what a hardship!

Strawberry Coconut Rough (Fresh strawberries, crushed nuts, unforgettable meringue crunch, coconut and strawberry ice-cream), $8.50
Strawberry Coconut Rough (Fresh strawberries, crushed nuts, unforgettable meringue crunch, coconut and strawberry ice-cream), $8.50

My choice of the strawberry coconut rough (a daily special) was an amazing mix of fresh locally made coconut ice-cream, fresh strawberries, and crunchy chocolate-coated meringues. It was a remarkable treat, and the surprising thing is that it didn’t even feel that bad for me, as the fruit and ice-cream was so fresh and light.

Strawberry Rocky Road (daily special)
Strawberry Rocky Road (daily special)

One friend ordered the strawberry rocky road, which came with a few scoops of different ice-creams, as well as white chocolate coated freeze-dried strawberries – a house specialty.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, $10
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, $10

The panna cotta was a popular choice as well, with a creamy and smooth texture and subtle vanilla bean flavour that went well with the strong berry coulis and fresh berries.

Strawberry pancake (daily special)
Strawberry pancake (daily special)

The pancake was a bit more disappointing and more geared towards the children visiting the cafe. The sprinkled hundreds and thousands didn’t add much to the dish!

Yoghurt & Berry Parfait $8.50
Yoghurt & Berry Parfait $8.50

A much healthier friend chose a yoghurt and berry parfait as she’s not much of a fan of sweets…and in fact, she doesn’t even eat chocolate! (Crazy, I know!) This is a great lighter choice if you happen to visit earlier in the day and aren’t quite ready for something sweet.

While our experience at Sunny Ridge wasn’t quite as good as our visit to Main Ridge Dairy (the service isn’t as good, and it’s a little older), I imagine that I’ll probably be back – next time in strawberry picking season!

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm on Urbanspoon