There’s a rumble of curiosity building around Gippsland, with weekend wanderers discovering impressive scenery and welcoming locals just beyond Melbourne’s city fringe.
Set off from Melbourne on a drive through rolling countryside to discover boutique food, award-winning wines and vintage finds in the pretty villages and coastal towns of greater Gippsland. Where should you start, you ask? These are the hot spots everyone is talking about.
Treasured for its swimming beaches, waterfront cafés and colourful fishing fleet – many of which sell the day’s catch to local restaurants – Lakes Entrance has long been one of Victoria’s premier holiday destinations. Cross the footbridge to Ninety Mile Beach and hire a fishing boat, kayak, surfboard or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) for a chance to see the playful and curious Burrunan dolphins that thrive in the sheltered waters of the Gippsland Lakes.
Turn back the clock in charming Walhalla to experience life as it was in the gold mining era. Wander through lovingly restored heritage buildings, ride the Walhalla Goldfields Railway and explore the underground mysteries of the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine. This pocket-sized mountain town of fewer than 20 residents is pretty as a picture in spring in particular, with blossoms hanging heavy from the trees.
Lovely little Loch is truly picture-perfect and bursting with collectables, antiques and gifts. The locals are also strong advocates for having zero ‘food miles’, with most cafés and restaurants only using produce from the area. Gin is what really put Loch on the map, however, so stop in at the Old Bank – now home to Loch Brewery & Distillery – to sample their signature gins, traditional craft ales and a single malt whisky that’s so good it’s snapped up as soon as it hits the shelf.
The seaside village of Inverloch is just a stone’s throw from Melbourne and fast becoming the go-to weekend getaway when you need to escape the city hustle and bustle. Check out the popular surf beach and sheltered foreshore, plus the string of lively cafés and restaurants in town. To see more of the scenic surrounds, take the Bunurong Coastal Drive to explore a dinosaur dig, spot a passing whale or simply stroll the many beaches, caves and rock pools.
Over in the east, Mallacoota could quite possibly be Gippsland’s greatest escape. Perched on the edge of the UNESCO-listed World Biosphere Reserve of Croajingolong National Park, the town boasts one of the most picturesque camping spots in all of Australia. Walking, cycling, fishing and simply slowing down are Mallacoota’s most popular pastimes.