4-day great outdoor adventure around Gippsland
A wild wonderland of stunning landscapes, soft adventure and burgeoning new foodie hotspots, Victoria’s Gippsland has it all.
By Chloe Cann
Home to more than 100 wineries, 14 national parks, 11 rail trails, the largest inland lakes system in the Southern Hemisphere and a UNESCO world biosphere reserve, it’s fair to say that Gippsland plays host to its fair share of attractions.
This vast swathe of Victorian countryside offers natural beauty in spades – from temperate rainforest to towering sand dunes, rolling pastoral landscapes to sweeping licks of untouched golden shores. It's all yours, ready to be explored, on foot, by bike or with a stand-up paddleboard. And those with a passion for both fresh air and fresh food will relish the region’s increasingly vibrant culinary scene. So, set off in a car from Melbourne to discover it all over four delicious days.
Day 1: Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory via Warragul
- Drive time: about 3 hours
Though it’ll add 20 minutes onto the drive time from Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory, you won’t regret detouring to Hogget Kitchen near the town of Warragul. A true temple of paddock-to-plate dining, the chefs at Hogget work chiefly with small-scale local growers and only use ingredients at the peak of their season. All the pickling, bottling, charcuterie, smoking and brining is done by hand in-house, and nose-to-tail dining – a food philosophy that sees no part of the animal goes to waste – is a restaurant mantra.
Before leaving Warragul, pop into deli and café Stella’s Pantry to grab a platter for dinner tonight. Charcoal lavosh, locally made fresh curd cheese and free-range salami are among the antipasti that often make the cut.Show more
Day 2: Wilsons Promontory
A vast wilderness area with a sprawling 130-kilometre (80-mile) coastline, Wilsons Promontory forms Victoria's largest marine national park. There’s nowhere better to survey this wildlife-rich seascape than from the water.
Take a 2.5-hour eco-cruise with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys to trace the string of uninhabited isles that skirt the shoreline, home to colonies of fur seals and white-bellied sea eagles. Some lucky visitors may even spot dolphins and whales in the waves. Marine life aside, you’ll enjoy a different perspective over the rugged, mountainous backdrop of the park, and inch closer to some of the formidable granite formations that rise up out of the Bass Strait.Show more
Day 3: Wilsons Promontory to Paynesville
- Drive time: about 3 hours
Heathlands, eucalypt forests, fern gullies, temperate rainforests – the Prom is home to a surprising array of different ecosystems, which play host to a plethora of wildlife, including 296 species of mammals alone. Rise early to spot some of these creatures, such as kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and emus, on the 2.3-kilometre (1.4-mile) Prom Wildlife Walk.
A short drive outside the national park (45 minutes) and on the way to today’s end destination of Paynesville, you’ll find Gurneys Cider. Sitting on 28 hectares of lush farmland, Gurneys pours four signature ciders as well as a handful of ever-changing limited-release ciders, all unfiltered and unpasteurised.Show more
Day 4: Paynesville to Lakes Entrance
- Drive time: under an hour
Hit Northern Ground in the neighbouring town of Bairnsdale (a 15-minute drive from Paynesville) for brekkie. The menu at this minimalist café reads like an ode to local producers, with each independent grower listed. The culinary cues here are, however, thoroughly international: specials range from breakfast of nasi goreng to croque madames.
Drive onwards to Lakes Entrance for an afternoon of adventure. A major gateway to the Gippsland Lakes, the coastal town has become a site of pilgrimage for water sports enthusiasts, who flock to swim, sail, canoe and fish in its waters. Hire bikes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards from Venture Out, or enlist the help of company co-owner Sarah Carlisle, who offers tours on local mountain biking trails, as well as a one-of-a-kind ‘heli-SUP’ experience. The latter involves a scenic flight over the Gippsland Lakes before being dropped near Ninety Mile Beach, ready for a guided return stand-up paddle tour.Show more