The beaches are empty, ice cream vans silent and the deck chairs stacked away but tourists, many of them Millennials, are still flocking to the Mornington Peninsula in droves. Peninsula Link goes part-way to explaining the surge but the real kicker is found in beautiful winter images amassing on social media.
Millennials love to travel, and their wanderlust for wine, food and adventure is found in imagery that connects people with Western Port, the new go-to-place for a winter escape. It's cold, the sky is grey and nature is all delicate and fragile yet they come to the bay with a gorgeous greenness and wide-screen palette of soft oily colours and evocative light. Visitors roam around, wrapped in furs and hanging around cellar doors, sculpture parks and flowering gums. Winter feasting has embellished the region on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with streams of wintery snapshots celebrating drinking cool climate wines while wearing a beanie.
Just outside sleepy Balnarring, the $50million Jackalope Hotel is full of cutting-edge design and dark cosy corners. Here, the Rare Hare cloakroom, festooned in rabbit pelts, is the most photographed cubic-metre on the Peninsula. Hot spots such as Foxeys Hangout, Polperro and Port Phillip Estate also create a warm pictorial narrative on Instagram and Facebook.
Wine tourism is a bit like social media. If you are all alone on Facebook it’s of no interest. But if you are many, and the offer is exciting, things start to happen. Jackalope and other new eateries have got Peninsula visitors buzzing. The $40million Point Leo Estate winery, sculpture park and restaurant opened with ex-Rockpool chef, Phil Wood on the tools, in a dining room overlooking the vast ocean beyond Western Port Bay. The more wineries, restaurants, hotels, and shops that are involved and cooperate, the better it works. The wine pioneers of this region remain a close-knit and collaborative group. It’s been a long wait, but now there’s genuine excitement about the offer and they are all saying, 'bring it on!'