Thankfully, there are still some places left on earth where a slow approach to life is favoured. In Victoria’s Gippsland region visitors can drive past green pastures dotted with dairy cows, laze on uncrowded beaches, stop in at bucolic towns, have close encounters with koalas in the wild and hike through secluded forests to hidden waterfalls. Despite Gippsland being one of Victoria’s greatest assets, it remains blissfully free from crowds, making it a perfect getaway option for people in search of authentic travel experiences.
Here are 10 reasons to make a trip to Gippsland:
1. See a world of waterfalls
A collection of under-the-radar waterfalls makes Gippsland an optimal spot to bliss out in nature, sans the crowds. Found in picturesque town of Noojee, Toorongo Falls Reserve encompasses two spectacular waterfalls that evoke an instant sense of calm. Toorongo Falls and Amphitheatre Falls are both easily accessible along walking tracks fringed with huge ferns, mossy rocks and clusters of fairytale-like fungi. About an hour from Wilsons Promontory, Agnes Falls is another of Gippsland’s waterfall wonders, with crystalline cascades tumbling over a series of rocks to a 59 metre drop.
2. Experience wildlife encounters
Boasting many national parks and marine reserves, it’s not hard to encounter native wildlife while travelling in Gippsland. From spotting koalas on Raymond Island, to watching kangaroos hop by while hiking in Wilsons Promontory, seeing pelicans gobble down fish in Metung and spying wombats in the bushland around Venus Bay, Gippsland is home to a menagerie of native wildlife. Off the coast, dolphins, whales and seals can all be spotted from the shore or aboard a boat. Many of Gippsland’s rivers and lakes are home to the elusive platypus, typically only spotted at dawn and dusk. Whether travelling with a dedicated wildlife tour operator like Echidna Walkabout or enjoying an independent road trip, wildlife sightings are guaranteed.
3. Explore a bounty of beaches
When it comes to wide open spaces, Gippsland has the advantage. While beaches closer to the city can become crowded during summer, Gippsland’s beaches are big and plentiful enough to never feel overrun with visitors. From wandering along 90 Mile Beach in Lakes Entrance to view the remains of the Trinculo shipwreck to floating in the calm waters of Cape Paterson Bay Beach on the Bass Coast, Gippsland’s uncrowded beaches are places of wild beauty, free to enjoy all year round.
4. Eat seriously good seafood
With direct access to the ocean, Gippsland is a place for seafood lovers to get their fill of some of the freshest catch in the country. Housed on a floating vessel that was once the town’s car ferry, Ferryman’s Seafood Café in Lakes Entrance offers fresh oysters with a side serve of harbour views and Pier 70 in Paynesville is another one not to be missed. In the seaside village of San Remo, the San Remo Fisherman’s Co-Op is a casual, family-friendly spot to feast on battered fish and chips with daily pelican feeding providing some light entertainment. A high end option for discerning diners, the Cape Kitchen on Phillip Island keeps things local by offering fresh mussels, squid and prawns served alongside Gippsland cheese and wine.
5. Walk a track less travelled
Keen hikers will love a walk in the wilderness of the Grand Strzelecki Track. A seriously underrated spot that few tourists visit, this magical track accessible from the towns of Churchill, Yarram or Traralgon is home to some of the tallest flowering plants and hardwood trees on the planet. Thanks to a high amount of rainfall and swathes of protected forest, this evergreen area is overgrown with jungle-like shrubs and towering trees. This biodiverse spot supports a huge number of native flora and fauna species, so hikers can expect to see koalas, echidnas and native birdlife in abundance.
6. Taste award-winning cheeses
As the epicentre of Victorian dairy production, Gippsland’s 190-odd dairies are responsible for producing more than 20% of Australia’s milk supply. No trip to Gippsland’s green pastures is complete without a cheese tasting session, with Prom Country Cheese in Moyarra and Bassine Speciality Cheese in Glen Forbes being two of the best places to taste artisanal cheeses made from local milk. Strong and pungent blues, creamy soft cheeses and tangy sheep milk cheese – anything and everything goes when it comes to Gippsland-produced dairy. Many providores in the region also stock local cheese with the Koonwarra Store in South Gippsland showcasing a carefully curated selection of cheese from local makers as well as wine and other gourmet treats from the region.
7. See wildflowers in bloom
Bushwalkers and day trippers are spoiled with an abundance of pretty-as-a-picture landscapes in Gippsland during spring and summer. From the protected woodlands of the national parks to the paddocks fringing the highways, wildflower season (September to January) is the ideal time for flower lovers to admire blooms. Splashes of delicate orchids, fields of bright daisies, yellow bursts of wattle and striking lines of bush peas can be found in the region, from the wild coast to the peaceful inland areas.
8. Find off-the-grid experiences
Leaving behind the stresses of the modern world is easy in Gippsland, with travel to the remote parts of the region giving visitors a chance to leave their tech devices behind. An overnight hiking and camping adventure in the unspoilt wilderness of the northern section of Wilsons Promontory is just the ticket for experienced hikers and outdoorsy folk. With five, basic campsites to choose from including Five Mile Beach and Barry Creek (all with no electricity or facilities) spending a night away from it all under a blanket of stars is arguably one of the best ways to experience this magical part of Victoria. Confident hikers will also love the idea of tackling the 100km Wilderness Coast Walk that encompasses the Croajingolong National Park. With no phone coverage and very few facilities along the way, this walk that starts in Mallacoota reveals sea caves, coastal lagoons, rolling sand dunes, wetlands full of migratory seabirds, surf beaches strewn with kelp and fragrant bushland alive with the calls of native birdlife.
9. Cruise the Gippsland Lakes
Nothing beats the freedom that comes with hitting the open water for a day of sailing. Considered an inland sea, the Gippsland Lakes area is the largest navigable inland waterway in Australia, covering a size ten times that of Sydney Harbour. A day out on the water with Riviera Nautic will reveal deserted beaches, waterside cafes, quiet national parks and wildlife sightings a plenty. Ahoy!
10. Visit old school pubs
Nothing beats a lazy afternoon in a country pub, and the Gippsland region is home to many endearing watering holes. The hub of many a rural community, a pub visit usually reveals local folklore, top travel tips from in-the-know locals and encounters with colourful characters. Highlights include Foster’s character-filled, wooden Exchange Hotel, the historic, renovated Tinamba Hotel and the Art Deco Fish Creek Hotel.
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