If you dream of discovering sweet little villages and lush dairy farmland that rolls down onto pristine, uncrowded beaches, then we suggest you get yourself to South Gippsland pronto.
Located just over an hour’s drive south of Melbourne, Loch village is the perfect start to your South Gippsland road trip. Browse antique stores, stock up on local goodies from charming Udder & Hoe, or grab a coffee and cake from one of the town’s many cafes. Of course, no trip to Loch would be complete without first visiting the Loch Brewery & Distillery; one of only a handful of distilleries in Victoria where you can pull up a stool, meet the distiller and sample a fine single malt whisky.
Detours are mandatory on country drives, so take this one to Prom Country Cheese, a modern cheesery set amid lush pastures and well-tended flock. Here, you can take a peek at the cheese-making process or simply soak up the beauty of the Moyarra valley with a ploughman’s platter in the tasting room.
Next stop: Korumburra
A short drive away is the historic township of Korumburra. Stop at The Borough Dept Store for a coffee brewed with fresh, low-volume Gippsland milk from the Butterfly Factory, a locally-made cake or some cheese from the onsite cake shop and creamery, or some retail goodies at the weekly market. Also on Commercial Street is microbrewery Burra Brewing Co., where you can sample some fresh craft brews in the sunlit beer garden, or stay for a paddle of beer with a wood-fired pizza and live music on Fridays and Sundays.
Leongatha: Gift stores and providores
Located in the heart of South Gippsland’s dairy country, Leongatha is worth a stop for its charming boutique shops and cafes. It’s also home to Lucinda Estate Winery, where you can taste some cool-climate wines and locally-sourced cheese – not to mention enjoy plenty of space to roam. It’s not all wine, cheese and craft beer in Gippsland, however; the region has some world-class outdoor activities, too. Leongatha is the starting point for the Great Southern Rail Trail – a 72-kilometre former rail route that’s been transformed into an idyllic cycling trail through the villages of Leongatha, Koonwarra, Meeniyan, Fish Creek, Foster, Toora and Welshpool. Australian Cycling Holidays offer fully-supported cycle tours through the region, looking after your bike hire, accommodation, luggage transfers and more, so all you need to do is show up and pedal.
Meet you in Meeniyan
Make sure you show up hungry in Meeniyan. Whether you’re arriving by bike or car, his little village punches well above its weight when it comes to food – right down to the lush vegetables growing on the main street’s leafy median strip. Pick up some local produce at The Meeniyan Store or authentic imported fare at Meeniyan Pantry & Cellar. For brekkie, head to Moo’s at Meeniyan or, for lunch, Trulli Woodfire Pizzeria’s Italian-style wood-fired pizza and pasta come with a huge range of delicious toppings made from local and imported ingredients.
Up Fish Creek
Although small in size, quirky Fish Creek is home to several noteworthy galleries including the Roland Harvey Fishy Gallery, Alison Lester Gallery/Bookshop, Ride the Wild Goat metal and wood gallery and workshop, Gecko Studio Gallery and the Celia Rosser Gallery – known for its renowned watercolour banksias. Dine at the grand, Art Deco Fish Creek Hotel while you’re here to taste some of Gippsland’s finest local produce, beer and wine. And don’t forget to look up at the huge metal mullet that hangs across one corner of the roof!
On the road between Fish Creek and Foster you’ll find Gurneys Cider. This stunning cider-house is an architectural marvel of glass and locally-milled timber beams, overlooking Corner Inlet and the wilderness of Wilsons Promontory National Park. Gurneys offer a true taste of South Gippsland including scrumpy made from wild apples hand-picked in the surrounding hills.
Waratah Hills Vineyard – the southernmost vineyard on the Australian mainland – is also well worth a visit on your way to Wilsons Promontory. Settle in for an indulgent local antipasto platter and don’t forget to stock up on award-winning cool climate pinot noir before you go.
Wilsons Promontory National Park, affectionately known as ‘The Prom’, is Victoria’s largest coastal wilderness, encompassing 50,000 hectares of the southernmost tip of mainland Australia and the last stop on your South Gippsland road trip. It’s home to a vast array of native wildlife including wombats, wallabies, emus, kangaroos and echidnas, who take refuge among the park’s granite-studded hills and hidden coves.
The Prom has welcomed visitors for generations who come to hike Mount Oberon for 360-degree views of the park and out to sea, to throw themselves down the endless dunes of Big Drift or take up the challenge of the epic 19-kilometre multi-day Lighthouse trek. If you’re not up to the hike, the spectacular Promhelis helicopter flight guarantees a bird’s-eye view of The Prom’s dense forests, remote beaches and coves, and windswept islands.
Cap off your South Gippsland adventure with the new Wilsons Promontory cruise – the latest edition to Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ yellow boat ecotours. The purpose-built amphibious boats depart Norman Bay, cruising past pristine beaches, granite rock formations and abundant marine life for a spectacular 2.5 hours. Marvel at Skull Rock, an exposed rocky outcrop with a cavernous opening so large you could fit the Sydney Harbour Bridge inside. Back on dry land –and with your Gippsland road trip coming to an end – you may well wonder how this little pocket of countryside has remained a secret so long.
For more information and to book go to Visit Gippsland.