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On the Bittern-Dromana Road in Merricks North, Tussie Mussie is smack bang in the middle of Mornington Peninsula. It feels secluded, on 11 hectares, but it seems close enough to be almost no more than five or 10 minutes away from every restaurant and winery in the area. Within a 10-minute radius are big guns Jackalope, Montalto and Ten Minutes by Tractor; an extra five will take you to Dromana Beach.
Tussie Mussie is a private retreat on top of a valley overlooking its vineyards. There are three properties you can rent on the site – a two-bedroom owner's cottage, the "old laundry" suite which is designed as a private space for couples, and the Vineyard Lodge, more of a large house with four king bedrooms each with their own en suite. Book out one of the properties, or all three.
Adjoining the lodge is a professional kitchen with a casual dining space and a cold room, and another outdoor dining area contains a wood-fired pizza oven. There's a rustic outdoor dining table in front of the vineyards which would be a perfect setting for a wedding, or an episode of The Bachelor, or a picturesque spot for a hen's do (of which there are plenty around) or a more casual getaway for a group of friends or family.
Oh, the serenity. We've got the entire place to ourselves for the stay and we barely heard a noise all weekend. The only living things we shared the property with were king parrots and a half-dozen rabbits. Apart from vineyards, the property is surrounded in an endless supply of lavender, fresh herbs and flowers, the smell of each intoxicating. Inside, a French rustic design embraces neutral colours. Props such as old suitcases appeal to the travel ethos and an akubra hat and driza-bone is a nod to its former life as a country cottage. Across the three properties there are plenty of leafy spaces for quiet reflection and there's also a grass tennis court.
Sometimes private accommodation gets the details right more than hotels. And here, there was no struggle to find the right light switch. Not a hint of sunlight entered the blinds in the morning. The heating set-up was amazing – there are heated floors in the bathroom and WC, an oil heater in every room, and electric blankets on the beds. In the lounge, a reverse cycle air conditioner and a wood fire. Back in the bathroom, the shower had two manoeuvrable heads. On the downside, the no-name brand television would be better served in the hard rubbish along with the musty collection of DVDs. A Chromecast is cheap and guests can BYO their own Netflix.
This is the kind of place you don't want to leave, and with a fully equipped chef's kitchen, pizza oven and several barbecues plus an endless supply of some of the state's best wineries nearby it is hard to find reason to. Unless you don't like to cook, in which case some of the peninsula's best restaurants are close by.
It would be remiss of you to not visit Jackalope and its seriously good food while so close. Drivers can take comfort in the knowledge that Jackalope's wines can be served by the half-glass. Take heed, fellow country wineries, for this is a smart idea.
Further west, at brand-spanking new Point Leo Estate you can grab yourself a glass of wine and wander through their unique sculpture park that has spectacular views over Phillip Island, and then go dine in its restaurant run by three-hatted former Rockpool chef Phil Wood.
There are loads of monster-wineries near Tussie Mussie, but we preferred some of the smaller cellar doors nearby. Quealy, just down the road, produces wine made from Tussie's vineyards. Ocean Eight produce fine chardonnay in Shoreham, and stop by Bass and Flinders distillery for gin and vodka (go early to avoid bus tours). We also took great delight playing with kids of the four-legged variety at Main Ridge Dairy, the goat's cheese farm in Main Ridge.
A gorgeous retreat in lush country surrounds and a perfect base for hunting and gathering the area's top quality produce.
Quiet comfort and solitude in close proximity to Mornington Peninsula's best wineries.
The crappy TV. OK, so we didn't really have time to switch on a telly but it would have been nice to had we stayed more than one night.
206 Bittern-Dromana Rd, Merricks North, VIC 3926.
Ph 0437 403 778, tussiemussie.com.au. Rates start from $395 per night.
Kylie McLaughlin was a guest of Visit Victoria, visitvictoria.com.au