Head east of Melbourne and you'll discover a region full of mountains, hiking trails, beaches, inlets and rainforests. It's a place so varied and full of natural wonder that you'll find it hard to believe you're only three hours from the city. This is Gippsland, a nature lover's paradise where you can spend your mornings searching for native flora and fauna in the rainforest and afternoons floating in the sea.
Civilisation is limited here, so it's a perfect getaway for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a few days. With a collection of tiny towns and plenty of activities for your inner adventurer, it can be difficult to know where to start. Let us point you in the right direction; we've put together some tips to help you make the most of the gorgeous region.
A weekend in South Gippsland is incomplete without a visit to Tarra Bulga National Park. The park includes some of the best cool temperate rainforests of the Strzelecki ranges and is packed full of extraordinary flora and fauna. Start at the Visitor Centre and walk through the neighbouring historic mountain ash trees until you reach the impressive Corrigan Suspension Bridge, where you can look out over a forest of ferns and listen to lyrebirds singing throughout. After your walk, jump back in the car and head to Agnes Falls, a spectacular waterfall reaching almost 60 metres. Pack a picnic lunch and make the most of the visit — you may even see yellow-tailed black cockatoos or even a wallaby or two if you're lucky.
Corrigan Suspension Bridge.
Arguably the number one nature attraction in South Gippsland (and dare we say Victoria) is Wilsons Promontory. This spectacular national park is made up of huge granite mountains, open forest, sweeping beaches and vast rugged coastline. There are a million and one things to do at 'The Prom', but we'd recommend choosing a hike to explore the region. Hikes to Mount Oberon and Pillar Point take less than two hours and offer breathtaking views of the peninsula, but if you have a little more time, embark on an overnight hike to untouched Sealers Cove.
If bushwalking isn't your thing, look towards the shore. Visit the famous Squeaky Beach to feel and hear the quartz sand squeak between your toes and catch some waves at Tidal River, The Prom's main surf beach. For something a little more laid-back Waratah Bay is another beautiful swimming spot, just a short drive from Tidal River.
After you've experienced all The Promontory has to offer, make your way back to Melbourne along the coast. Take the Bunurong Coastal Drive and stop for spectacular views and a quick dip at Cape Paterson. Keep driving and you'll reach the town of Kilcunda, where you'll find the historic Kilcunda Trestle Bridge.
Kilcunda General Store.
EAT AND DRINK
Gippsland is a go-to for rustic cuisine. Starting in the east, the sleepy seaside village of Port Albert has some delicious options. For a sophisticated dining experience, head to Wildfish Restaurant and enjoy fresh seafood while overlooking the port. If you're into something more low-key, the takeaway fish and chip shop next door is also perfect for a DIY picnic by the water — their fish and chips are known as some of the best around the region.
Drive on west through Welshpool and you'll find Foster, one of the last stops before The Prom. For a breakfast or lunch of simple fare made from local produce, visit Cafe Max. The cafe offers locally roasted coffee and freshly baked cakes and slices to stock up on before heading back to the city. Next up is the small town of Fish Creek, home to the iconic Fish Creek Hotel. You can't miss the art deco building, largely because of the giant fish sculpture mounted on the roof. Stop by for classic pub fare and an extensive selection of regional produce shining throughout the menu.
After a day at The Prom, head back up to Moyarra and explore the farm gate at Prom Country Cheese. Pack your bag full of award-winning Venus Blue cheese or indulge in a home-style meal on the veranda overlooking the valley. If you're after some fresh, local produce to take away with you, you can also pick up a selection from Prom Coast Food Collective. Happening once every month, this collaboration between farmers and producers is a great way for locals and visitors to get their hands on the freshest seasonal produce. You can even organise to pick up your goods from Blue Tree Honey Farm on your way back to Melbourne. And as you make your way through Kilcunda, stop at Udder & Hoe for some of the best local fruit and veg and a feed at the Kilcunda General Store. Grab a seat out the front, order the breakfast special — specials can be anything from brioche french toast or savoury cheddar waffles — and soak up views of the ocean across the road.
To really get back to nature, hire a hut at Tidal River, just seconds away from the action. With all the basics you'll need, these simple huts sit right in the heart of The Prom. For those who want to reunite with the wild, but can't quite stomach camping, look to a fair medium: Prom Coast Eco Glamping. Offering deluxe bell tents at select locations along the Prom Coast, they'll even set them up for you (and pack them down after you leave). All you have to do is pack your belongings and you're set for a luxury stay by the waves.
Prom Coast Eco Glamping.
More luxurious (and indoor) options are available at Limosa Rise, where you can rent a self-contained cottage with beautiful views of the nearby Prom and at the indulgent Church House, a boutique, gourmet retreat in Fish Creek. And for an inland stay, The Hicks in Leongatha is a beautifully renovated holiday home with room for up to ten guests, so you can make your Gippsland trip a weekend away with mates.