With the largest lake system and one of the longest beaches in the Southern Hemisphere, Gippsland offers some of Victoria’s best touring adventures.
By Sue Gough Henly
The wilderness region of Gippsland is enormous. From the city of Melbourne it stretches north-east to Victoria’s border with New South Wales (a distance of 542 kilometres, or 337 miles), covering the entire south-east corner of the Australian continent. It offers a host of wilderness and wildlife, great drives and gourmet treats.
- See wildlife and wilderness at Wilsons Promontory
- Take a boat trip on the Gippsland Lakes
- Enjoy a long stroll on Ninety Mile Beach
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Top things to do in Gippsland
Go south to Wilsons Promontory
One of Victoria’s best loved parks, and its largest coastal wilderness area, Wilsons Promontory (locally known as "The Prom") is a 50,000 hectare (124,000 acre) reserve. It sticks out from the southernmost tip of mainland Australia in the shape of a hitchhiker’s thumb. The Prom is threaded with walking tracks through cool fern gullies and eucalypt forest, and bordered with orange lichen-covered granite boulders and sandy beaches. Look out for emus and kangaroos in open country in the north of the park as you drive to Tidal River, the main location for camping or accommodation in cabins, huts or award-winning Wilderness Retreats. You'll see brightly plumed rosellas during the day and wombats at night all around Tidal River. Enjoy the most accessible rainforest in Lilly Pilly Gully or walk to Squeaky Beach, so named because its talcum white sand squeaks underfoot. Watch kids ride their boogie boards down Tidal River as you explore the bird-filled wetlands and even catch a movie under the southern night sky at the Tidal River outdoor cinema (Wednesday and Saturday).
Enjoy gourmet delights in pretty villages
Follow the Gippsland Food and Wine Trail. Enjoy the freshest seafood all along the coast from Mallacoota to Port Albert, savour a range of cool climate wines at Wild Dog and Tambo wineries, sample small batch beers and gins at Loch Brewery & Distillery, discover Prom Country Cheese and eat with the locals at the Tinamba Hotel.
Go boating on the Gippsland Lakes
Explore the Gippsland Lakes, a network of lakes, marshes and lagoons covering more than 600 square kilometres (230 square miles). The three main lakes, Victoria, King and Wellington, are fed by rivers that originate in the High Country. Hire a boat in Metung or Paynesville and visit waterside cafés. Take a ferry to Raymond Island to see its resident koala colony, and to Rotamah Island, renowned for its kangaroos, wallabies and 140 species of birds. Drive onto Lake King along the Mitchell River silt jetties, the second longest in the world, where you will often see native animals and birds. From Lakes Entrance, go on a two hour Sea Safari to explore some of the islands, cross the ocean entrance and see birds and marine life.
Explore Ninety Mile Beach
From the shallow inlets near Port Albert to the wide open waterways of Lakes Entrance, Ninety Mile Beach is a stretch of golden sand and coastal dunes that separates the Gippsland Lakes from the crashing waves of Bass Strait. Walk, fish, swim, and watch whales, pelicans and dolphins along one of the most natural beaches in the world. The surf is rough here so swim only on patrolled beaches at Seaspray, Woodside Beach and nearby Lakes Entrance, which have lifeguards in summer (December to February) and offer low-key beach holiday settings.
Admire limestone formations at the Buchan Caves
Explore the Buchan Caves Reserve, 45 minutes drive north of Lakes Entrance. Go on a guided tour to see the stalactites and stalagmites of Fairy Cave and the calcite-rimmed pools of Royal Cave. Both caves are lit and have concrete pathways. See kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and 60 species of birds at the Buchan Caves Reserve and stay in safari-style wilderness retreats.
Discover Croajingolong National Park
In the far south-east of Victoria stay in the pretty waterside town of Mallacoota or at Point Hicks Lighthouse, the tallest in Australia, so you can explore some of Croajingolong National Park’s white sandy beaches, rocky headlands, granite peaks, rambling heathland, lush rainforests and towering eucalyptus. This is pure Australian coastal wilderness, full of native animals and birdlife.
How to get there
From Melbourne it takes about three hours by car to get to the popular holiday spot, Wilsons Promontory, and about four hours to drive to the coastal tourist town of Lakes Entrance. You can also drive the Great Alpine Road from the pretty town of Metung, on the shores of the Gippsland Lakes, up and over the Victorian High Country to Wangaratta in the north of Victoria. If you take the coastal highway between Sydney and Melbourne, a distance of 1380 kilometres (857 miles), you will drive through the entire Gippsland region.