Dull grey clouds hang in the sky occasionally spitting cool rain and the weather could not be more perfect.
Peninsula Hot Springs, located on the blissful Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, is perhaps best enjoyed in dreary, overcast weather. Rain gently pitter-patters on the foliage that surrounds the springs – and on your overheated shoulders – as you immerse yourself in the hot water.
The geothermal hot springs and day spa was founded in 1997 by brothers Charles and Richard Davidson. Charles had spent time in Japan discovering the traditional hot springs and sought to recreate the sensory experience back home.
You’re greeted by genuine, friendly female staff working reception, and after your brief introduction to the day’s itinerary, encouraged to don a white robe in lieu of external towels and head outside to the springs.
The sprawling centre is split into a family-friendly area known as the The Bath House and an adults-only area known as The Spa Dreaming Centre. The Bath House experiences include a cave pool, reflexology walk, Turkish Hamam and hilltop pool with 360-degree views of the region, but the over-16s-only stipulation when entering The Spa Dreaming Centre was too good to resist.
Steam hangs in the air as quiet bathers clad in identical white robes wander through the earthy landscape. To the right, two women in their fifties doze serenely on outdoor lounge chairs. There is a trickling noise coming from somewhere. You feel yourself start to uncoil.
Stone pathways wind through the landscape feel soft underfoot as they pave the way to each bath, while hanging chestnut cane chairs are dotted on platforms for intermittent time out, just a couple of the generous attention-to-detail designs built into Peninsula Hot Springs.
Bathe at temperatures ranging from 38-42 degrees in the ground, or enjoy sitting in a giant barrel of bubbling water instead – there’s a myriad of spring experiences to mix and match as you please including thermal mineral pools, indoor private bathing pavilions and outdoor private pools.
Along with the springs, bathers can also enjoy the use of saunas and self-massaging machines, or choose a bathing package which includes treatments like mineral mud wraps, hair treatments, facials and even an indoor private bath complete with essential oils, lavender milk, mud or Tulsi tea.
Lunch is served on an enclosed terrace, and quiet couples and groups sit clad in their lush white robe sipping crisp wine and enjoying lunch. Bathers can enjoy breakfast or lunch depending on the time of day, or enjoy dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm. Options are varied – from grazing plates to seafood and salad options.
A lunch highlight is seared kangaroo fillet served medium rare with seasonal baby vegetables, carrot and lemon myrtle puree, dressed in a Davidson plum jus, complimented by one of the freshly made combination juices on the menu. The tender meat was perfectly cooked and plated up with pzazz by the chefs.
No hot spring experience is complete without a full body massage by one of the expert masseuses afterwards, which also included face and neck. It’s an incredibly serene way to finish off your day of rejuvenation and pampering.
There are plenty of accommodation options in the Peninsula for all budgets and creature comforts. But if you’re looking to get away from the cookie-cutter feel of big resort accommodation, or the lack of usual amenities of the smaller lodges, look at staying in a self-contained accommodation that feels like home.
Cape Shanck is home to Edelweiss, a massive two story property located in a sleepy suburban street that somehow manages to feel intimate and homely. The key is collected from a small safe located discreetly on the property – meaning there’s no lengthy, impersonal check in or check out process.
Edelweiss is ideal for the family getaway – in fact, two families could comfortably enjoy the four bedrooms, double living area and sprawling deck overlooking the lush backyard. Don’t forget to bring the pooch – Edelweiss is also dog-friendly.
To check out Edelweiss and more Ocean Blue Coastal Retreats, head to the website.
When night falls, head 25 minutes to Sorrento, the Peninsula’s most stylish suburb known perhaps best for the Mansions on Millionaire's Walk which overlook Port Phillip Bay. Wander down Ocean Beach Road; the road is known for its limestone buildings which houses a variety of chic shops and restaurants.
Dinner at Italian restaurant Aquolina was as good as any eaten in a recent month-long stint in Italy. We were met by an impossibly shrill host, a small blonde donna who warmly welcomed us through her ringing thick Italian accent.
The place was rustic by anyone’s standards, but the prices were more inline with fine dining. Any qualms we had with that was suppressed by the incredible flavour of our meals.
Our meals came fast and hot – thin slices of beef carpaccio with rocket and drizzled truffle oil, pillow-like gnocchi with a white ragout that melted in the mouth and sizzling king prawns swimming in a sea of olive oil, garlic, chili and parsley.
Very safe to say that it was a comfortable and content sleep that night back at Edelweiss, well-pampered and well-fed by the best of the Mornington Peninsula.