Gippsland (pronounced with a hard G) is the south-eastern region of Victoria, Australia. It includes the southernmost point of the Australian mainland at Wilsons Promontory. It is bordered to the west by Western Port Bay, to the south by Bass Strait, to the north by the Great Dividing Range and to the east by the New South Wales border.
|East Gippsland |
The far eastern areas of Gippsland, home to numerous forests and unspoiled beaches.
|Central Gippsland |
A farming area with numerous not-so-well known more quieter destinations.
|South and West Gippsland |
The nearest region to Melbourne, home to the southernmost point of the Australian mainland.
Cities and towns
- 1 Bairnsdale in East Gippsland — gateway to the Gippsland Lakes
- 2 Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland — mouth of the Gippsland Lakes and popular coastal destination
- 3 Leongatha in South Gippsland — centre of the local region
- 4 Orbost in East Gippsland — local regional centre in Snowy River country
- 5 Sale in Central Gippsland — commercial centre of the Central Gippsland region
- 6 Stratford in Central Gippsland — small town on the Avon River with many parks and cafes to see, as well as a yearly Shakespeare festival
- 7 Traralgon in Central Gippsland — Latrobe Valley city with coal heritage
- 8 Warragul in West Gippsland — service centre of the West Gippsland area
- 9 Wonthaggi on the Bass Coast — coal mining town and local commercial centre
- 1 Croajingolong National Park
- 2 French Island - hiking, riding, camping, water birds, koalas
- 3 Phillip Island – Penguins south of Melbourne
- 4 Wilsons Promontory – hiking, bush camping, diving
Gippsland is a rural region of Victoria, which stretches from the Bass Coast to the border with New South Wales. The temperature in Gippsland is generally temperate, though it does vary by region — East Gippsland may be hit with snowfall in the winter months, while Central Gippsland is more prone to rain. In early Australian history, gold rushes struck across Gippsland, however there wasn't much to be found, although some of these gold rush settlements are still there today. What Gippsland is rich in, however, is brown coal, having the world's largest brown coal deposits. The Latrobe Valley is the centre of Victoria's energy industry, however, as the fossil fuel industry becomes less profitable, power stations such as Hazelwood have closed down.
Gippsland is also very fire prone. A particular 2014 fire which started in the Hazelwood mine was particularly devastating to the Latrobe Valley, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and leading to deaths. The mine operators were ultimately fined for occupational health and safety breaches leading to the fire. More internationally famous are the Black Summer bushfires, which hit East Gippsland hard and lead to the evacuation of over 1000 people from Mallacoota.
V/Line regional train services operate across Gippsland. Trains are available from Melbourne's Southern Cross station along the Bairnsdale line. For any trains that go past Traralgon, you will need to purchase a paper ticket either online or at a staffed train station. Otherwise, you will use a Myki card. The V-Line train stops at, among others-
- Sale (paper ticket required)
- Stratford (paper ticket required)
- Bairnsdale (paper ticket required)
Coach/bus services are operated by V/Line. Paper tickets are required on coach services, and can be purchased online or at a staffed train station. Coaches operate to a variety of destinations across Gippsland, including to Phillip Island, Wonthaggi, Fish Creek, Leongatha, Lakes Entrance, Paynesville, Orbost and Cann River. A full list of timetables is available here.
Melbourne is the best jumping-off point for exploring Gippsland via car. The M1/A1 route will take you into Gippsland, and car hire is very easy.
Cars can be hired in major towns. The M1/A1 route takes you through many of Gippsland's largest towns, including Traralgon, Sale and Bairnsdale. The M420 highway, which forks off from the M1 at Dandenong, is the route to take to see South Gippsland. The larger A440 highway forks off from the M420 outside Lang Lang, and passes through Leongatha, Foster and Yarram. The A440 meets the A1 highway in Sale. Detours can easily be taken from the A440 to see the Ninety Mile Beach. Meanwhile, at the end of the M420, you can take the B420 to see Phillip Island.
Gippsland has a variety of natural destinations to see. The Ninety Mile Beach, on the Central Gippsland coast, is a long stretch of untamed coastline dotted with small coastal towns. Wilsons Promontory is a national park and the southernmost point of Australia, and a good destination for hiking enthusiasts. Mount Baw Baw, located in the famous Great Dividing Range, is home to a ski resort which has a number of beginner to intermediate ski runs, as well as cross country trails across the Baw Baw plateau. In summer, it's a popular walking destination.
Tarra-Bulga is a national park consisting of thousands of acres of indigenous eucalypt forest, with diverse flora and fauna and walking tracks. Morwell National Park is smaller, but still contains rainforest remnants. Expect to see koalas, wallabies and possibly lyrebirds. Wombats may make an appearance at dusk. Mount Tassie is the highest peak in the Strzelecki Ranges, and boasts 360 degree panoramic views.
The old gold mining township of Walhalla in the mountains has history, good bushwalks, a good tour through the Long Tunnel Extended Mine, and several nice funky cafes. The Walhalla Goldfields Railway operates on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, over a 4 km (2.5 mi) route through the wild and atmospheric Stringers Creek gorge.
- The East Gippsland Rail Trail is a bike and walking path starting in Bairnsdale down the path of the former Orbost railway line.
- The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail is a bike and walking path starting in Traralgon and ending in Stratford down the former Maffra railway line. It's mainly on flat gravel through the heart of Gippsland.
The Gippsland Lakes are a network of lakes, fed by various rivers across Gippsland such as the Avon, Latrobe and Tambo rivers. The largest lake town is Lakes Entrance, and it's easy to discover the water by renting a boat or going on a cruise from one of the maritime towns. Fishing is also an option, as most of the towns have jetties. Companies such as Farout Charters, which is based in Lakes Entrance, offer boats and equipment for fishing.
There are a number of former rail lines in Gippsland that have now been converted into "rail trails" for cycling. These range from shorter journeys, such as the 13 km (8.1 mi) Grand Ridge Rail Trail from Mirboo North to Boolarra, to longer journeys that could make a trip by themselves, such as the East Gippsland Rail Trail, which is 96 km (60 mi) long, and only accessible by mountain bikes in some sections.
Hiking is a popular activity in Gippsland. The Grand Strzelecki Track connects Morwell and Tarra-Bulga national parks for 85 km (53 mi), taking approximately 3 to 4 days through Gippsland's Strzelecki Ranges. Camping stops are available across the track. Hikes are also available through national parks in Gippsland, such as the 36 km (22 mi) Wilsons Promontory Southern Circuit Walk, which is a walk through remote rainforest and coastal beaches that takes 3 days.
Gippsland's natural beauty and untouched wilderness also offers plenty of options for four wheel driving. Tracks such as the Wonnagatta Drive near Dargo go through hamlets and small towns, and take days to complete. Shorter tracks like the Coopracambra Link drive near Cann River only take a day, taking you through the wilderness and waterfalls.
Gippsland's 'hotels' explained
Some pubs call themselves hotels. Does this mean they offer accommodation? Well, not necessarily. Some certainly do, but while in Melbourne you'd be foolish to think that anything called a hotel isn't primarily for accommodation, not so in Gippsland. And usually, when Gippsland hotels do offer accommodation, don't expect it to be their primary focus. Usually, they'll have some private rooms that have a bed and a bathroom. Don't expect any facilities other than that.
Gippsland's cuisine is largely similar to that of Australia as a whole. A frequent feature of small towns in Gippsland is the pub or hotel. These are establishments that are usually split into bar and bistro sections, although sometimes there might just be one area where the two are mixed. The bar section is for drinking, and beers such as Carlton and VB will probably be available, as well as some local specialties. The bistro is a dining area, and serves what's known as "pub food", which can include steak, burgers, parmigiana, potato wedges, and other similar foods. Don't expect anything too special, though every pub is different. In many towns, they may be the only option for dining out.
Cafes are also common, though not as much so as the pub. These will often only be open for breakfast and lunch, with a focus on coffee and other hot drinks. While most cafes won't just serve hot drinks, how much more exactly they serve may vary. Smaller cafes might just have a few select items — say, pastries or hot chips, to give a few examples - while others may offer breakfast and lunch menus. Additionally, no discussion of Gippsland cuisine would be complete without the fish and chips shop. It's not universal, but it's a popular option nationwide, and apart from the obvious fish and chips (which, depending on where you're staying, could be locally caught), potato cakes, dim sims, and hamburgers may also be on the menu.
In larger towns, the cuisine is predictably more broad. There's usually a broader palate of options — for example, it's likely a town of a few thousand might have a Chinese restaurant, multiple cafes, etc. In the regional centres, while the pickings aren't as broad as Melbourne, they're the largest you'll have available in Gippsland. There's likely to be multiple restaurants, a couple of pubs, and what is there is likely to be more specialised — there might be a steakhouse, there might be a chicken shop, there might be a pizza restaurant.
Fast food is on offer in some places as well. Here's a helpful table to show what's available where. A tick signifies that the franchise has a store in the location, while a cross signifies that they're not available in that location.
The abundance of pubs in Gippsland means you shouldn't ever starve for liquor in the region. Many supermarkets will also have a dedicated liquor section. But in terms of actual nightlife, unlike Melbourne, it's basically nonexistent. Some towns may have occasional festivals or entertainment events, but that's about it. However, wineries are common across the region. Examples include Nicholson River Winery in East Gippsland and Lucinda Estate in South Gippsland.
There is always a potential fire hazard during the summer months, so watch out for fire warning signs on the roads.
The coast is long and mostly not patrolled, so be careful of swimming.