Choose Your Own Adventure In Gippsland
by Gwen Luscombe
Despite the recent fires, Victoria’s Gippsland region, just a threehour coastal drive from Melbourne, is welcoming visitors – especially if you’re after swathes of space, beautiful nature, and plenty of things to do, as active or as relaxed as you choose.
Home to one of the longest uninterrupted beaches in the world, 90 Mile Beach (it’s technically 94 miles or 151 kms) is a strip of pristine beach with no apartment blocks or rocky headlands overshadowing it, just a clear stretch running from Port Albert to Lakes Entrance. It could be considered the area’s best asset, but it’d be short-sighted to think so when the region has so much to offer from hiking in the surrounding National Parks, to fishing and water activities, enjoying the arts and culture of the surrounding towns and digging in to some seriously tasty local fare.
Charming villages abound. Port Albert is a favourite stop for history buffs with its maritime museum and quaint old houses, alongside recreational fishing. Art lovers and shoppers should make a bee-line for the tree lined streets of Maffra for cafes, boutique shops and galleries. Bairnsdale offers easy access to Raymond Island, a tiny island accessible only by boat, home to Victoria’s largest koala population. Jump on the ferry which leaves every hour from the Paynesville terminal on The Esplanade. The ten-minute trip is $13 return for cars but free if you’re on foot or bike, which is a good option when wandering and spotting the koalas sleeping in the treetops.
Lakes Entrance is a family-friendly coastal town with beautiful beaches, waterfront cafes and plenty of spots for fishing and water sports. Lakes Entrance sits at the edge of Ninety Mile Beach where Gippsland Lakes and the ocean meet, providing the perfect spot to soak up sunshine.
Active travellers can hit the Central Gippsland Rail Trail to cycle or walk, and bushwalkers explore the cool-temperate rainforest of Tarra Bulga National Park, with its towering mountain ash, waterfalls and Corrigan’s Suspension Bridge above a gully of tree ferns. Feeling ambitious? The Grand Strzelecki Walking Track (100km) connects magical Morwell and Tarra Bulga National Parks. While it has challenging parts, there are also easy walks within it for all fitness abilities. You’ll walk among dense rainforest and tall eucalypt forests, which is home to local wildlife including the South Gippsland koala.
You’ll find more than 50 wineries dotted around the area – start with breakfast at Vines on Avon in Maffra, soak up live music and sample 95-point wines at Blue Gables before venturing to nearby Glenmaggie Wines and finish up with dinner at Toms Cap.
But where to lay your head? You’ll find plenty of camping and holiday park cabin options such as Paradise Valley Camping Ground in Glenmaggie. It’s pet-friendly and with the Macalister River flowing through it, there’s plenty of opportunity to swim, take out a canoe or grab a fishing rod. Traditional hotels like the Quest Sale or RACV Inverloch are nearby and an abundance of quaint boutique hotels like the Bairnsdale Bed and Breakfast. After something a little different? Check in to a winery stay at Toms Cap Winery not far from Tarra Bulga National Park? No matter what your style or budget, you’re certain to find it here. ■