Channel your inner adventurer, and spend a weekend exploring a region full of bushwalking trails, untouched forests and waterfalls. Only a 75-minute drive from Melbourne, West Gippsland will inspire you to seek out the many potential adventures the region has to offer.
Pack your walking shoes and discover the most photogenic spots on foot, or strap your bike to the roof and spend an afternoon pedalling along a local trail. After adventuring around, refuel with some of Victoria's best produce at one of the many spectacular dining options, before setting in to fall asleep to the sound of nature. This is Gippsland.
Noojee Trestle Bridge.
If it's a bike ride that tickles your fancy, you'll be spoiled for choice in West Gippsland. Arguably the most famous track around is the meandering Grand Ridge Rail Trail in the pristine Strzelecki Ranges. Soak up the scent of native plants and keep your eyes peeled for one of Gippsland's most vocal attractions — the lyrebird. Another option for bike riding is the Noojee Trestle Bridge Rail Trail. Cycle along the track, and you'll reach Victoria's tallest surviving wooden trestle bridge. Soak up views of the 100-metre-tall bridge and surrounding valley before enjoying a picnic lunch at the nearby reserve.
At the end of your walk, explore the Toorongo Falls Reserve to see the eponymous falls cascading down the cliff face. The Mushroom Rocks Trail is equally rewarding, ending with a maze of giant and extremely photogenic granite tors.
If these tracks sound a little too tame for your inner adventurer, pack your mountain bike and book a shuttle to the summit of Mount Baw Baw. The recently launched shuttle offers thrill seekers the chance to power down the mountain at one of three difficulty levels. With a total descent of three kilometres, this ride is not for the faint of heart. And if extreme mountain biking is a bit too much for you, the Mount Baw Baw National Park by foot is pretty spectacular, too.
Walhalla Goldfields Railway.
Finally, head to the historic mining town of Walhalla to explore historic buildings, hike up to the old cricket pitch and venture into the area's (possibly) haunted ghost towns. Visitors can also embark on the Long Tunnel Gold Mine Tour through the old mines or, on the weekends, catch a ride on the historic Walhalla Goldfields Railway.
Hogget Kitchen. Image: Tim Grey.
EAT AND DRINK
In 2006, former truck driver Craig Robins set up a coffee business after being consistently disappointed with the standard of coffee available in the region. With help from wife Jenni, he gifted the region with Southern Addictions Coffee, which now supplies good coffee to cafes throughout the area, including the couple's first permanent outpost in Yarragon, The Shot House. It's a great stop for an early caffeine hit; grab a comfy stool at the espresso bar to try one of the daily single origins, or nab a table in the sun and order a sweet treat with your brew.
Hogget Kitchen. Image: Tim Grey.
Just a ten-minute drive up the road, you'll find Warragul. With no shortage of interesting eateries and a tangible Melbourne influence touching most venues in town, this lively country town will definitely keep you well fed. For a simple, produce-driven meal, head to Stella's Pantry, a cafe and retail store where you can pick up almost every kind of local product imaginable. Peruse the packed shelves for a little piece of Gippsland to take home with you, before plonking down on a comfy chair with some charcuterie, cheese and antipasto.
Courthouse Restaurant and Garden Bar.
For a meal with a more historic feel, head around the corner from Stella's to Courthouse Restaurant and Garden Bar. The gastropub's menu is full of local produce, but the real star is the local beef. Come for lunch, and order the Gippsland beef sirloin — char-grilled to your liking — and pair it with a full-bodied red wine for a decadent way to refuel after a massive hike. If you're looking to really treat yourself, though, plan a visit to Warragul's Hogget Kitchen. This famed rural restaurant serves some of Gippsland's best ethical produce, including berries, veg and herbs grown in the on-site garden. As expected from such a localised production, the menu changes daily, so you may find yourself here a few times during your trip so you can try several different dishes.
For a centrally located getaway, book one of the three self-contained cottages at Vivere Retreat in Neerim South. The Retreat, Studio and Cottage each offer something a little different in terms of style and size, and each comes with a standout feature including fireplace, spa bath or a patio perfect for sunsets.
Head a little further into the hills and you'll find Vue at Jindivick, an eco bed and breakfast tucked away in the forest. Set on 36 acres of land, a stay at Vue is ideal for those looking to embark on bushwalking, cycling and bird watching adventures throughout the region. If you visit from September through April, you'll also be able to take part in an on-site beekeeping workshop.
Another option is to head to Poowong East to hidden gem Marge's Cottage. In a secluded spot, the handcrafted cottage includes an indoor fireplace, luxurious bathtub and, as a bonus, homemade snacks. Wake up to the soothing sound of the property's friendly milking sheep before making a gourmet brekkie with supplied local produce.
For a Gippsland getaway with friends, book a stay at 100-year-old Fieldstone House. This rustic accommodation sleeps eight people and includes a private infinity pool and gorgeous English garden. It's equally ideal for that romantic weekend away you've been trying to plan for months now.