Known to most Australians just as "The Peninsula," Mornington Peninsula curls around Victoria State's Port Phillip Bay like an upside-down seahorse, with a flick to the northwest, at the Bass Strait (next stop, Tasmania). Its main settlements are Dromana, Frankston, and Mornington; its population is 180,000, the majority of whom work in Melbourne, which is the capital and largest city in Victoria and the second-largest city in all Australia. Mornington Peninsula MICE venues and attractions, while generally more intimate than those found in Melbourne, yield some delightful surprises.
The Melbourne Airport (MEL), also known as Tullamarine, is 14 miles northwest of Melbourne and thus 39 miles north-northwest of Mornington Peninsula. The airport has service to all over Australia, as well as direct flights to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, and Los Angeles.
The principal MICE venue in Mornington Peninsula is actually a racecourse, Mornington Racing Club, in the absence of a dedicated convention center. (Groups looking for such use the huge Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, which has 300,000 square feet of exhibition space and space for up to 5,000 persons.) Mornington Racing Club has space for events of up to 1,000 persons, including the Gunnamatta room for 700 persons, Final Furlong for 350, and Chairman's Marquee for 200.
MICE hotels on Mornington Peninsula include, right on the tip of the peninsula, the 37-room Hotel Sorrento, which has space for events for up to 120 people; and the 24-room Mercure Portsea, which has a boardroom for 16 persons and a ballroom for 200. Elsewhere, there are the 92-room Peppers Moonah Links Resort, which has an 18-hole championship golf course and seven function spaces, the largest able to host up to 100 persons; and the 53-room Best Western Plus Brooklands, which has room for events of up to 150 persons. Just off the peninsula's southeastern side is the 62-room Continental Hotel, Phillip Island, which has room for events of up to 300 persons and is close to Phillip Island's most-famous site, its resident band of Little Penguins (their real name), the world's smallest penguin species.
Special MICE venues on this narrow neck of land include the Frankston Arts Centre, which has exhibition space, an 800-seat theater, the 194-seat Cube 37 space and a function centre for up to 1,000 persons; Flinders Golf Course, which claims to be Victoria's oldest golf course (built in 1903), which has stellar views of the Bass Strait and two function rooms for up to 250 persons; Hummingbird Eco Retreat & Conference Centre, which sits in 72 acres of protected bushland known as Red Hill and has lots of healthy activities, a restaurant, two function spaces and 14 guest rooms; McClelland Sculpture Park & Gallery, which has a cafe, 16 acres of lakeside land full of sculpture, reception space for up to 200 persons and banquet space for 150; and Rosebud Country Club, which has 26 holes of golf and a clubhouse that can cater to events of up to 220 persons.
Restaurants on Mornington Peninsula run to Eccoqui, an Italian restaurant in Frankston, which has space for private functions of up to 300 persons; Vineyard Cafe at the Barmah Park Winery, which serves breakfast and lunch only but does have access to the winery's vintages (perhaps not for breakfast); spacious Yaringa Marina Restaurant, which is on the peninsula's eastern side with views of Phillip's and French islands and with a very Australian menu; God's Kitchen, inside a church dating to 1876 in Mornington and which is an area focal point, contains a front garden with courtyard, a glass atrium and a garden bar and has a menu of steak, tapas and gourmet pizza; and in Dromana, L'Aqua, which has an international menu with nods to local seafood and Italy and has a function room and extensive wine list.