Tucked near the border of New South Wales and Victoria lies a triangular region of high-country mountains, long stretches of uninterrupted coastland and snowy river country ready for your next adventure
Gippsland’s the perfect stopping point along the 1,200 plus kilometre scenic drive between Sydney and Melbourne. Full of dramatic landscapes where long dreamy beaches meet the crisp mountain air of the Australian Alpine region. Taking the Princes Highway Drive, leading through East Gippsland gives you the opportunity to explore some of the most spectacular surrounds that are surprisingly not all that far from the highway.
(Image: Orbost Dairy Farm.)
With so many natural attractions in abundance, East Gippsland has more must-see stops than you might imagine. The region’s covered by National Parks aplenty and with charming coastal towns like Nowa Nowa, Orbost, Bairnsdale, Mallacoota and Lakes Entrance, you’ll find activities for thrill-seekers as well as those keen to kick back and take it easy.
(Image: Nowa Nowa East Gippsland Rail Trail.)
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
No matter what time of year you drive through, this region offers plenty of outdoor activities including skiing and snowboarding in winter as well as bushwalking, horseback riding, fly-fishing for trout, white water rafting and four-wheel driving with Snowy River Drive.
While you're in the gateway into the Alpine region, it’s well worth exploring the Snowy River region beginning in NSW’s Kosciuszko National Park and covering more than 350 kilometres south to the sea in Marlo, East Gippsland. Explorers can meander for a day or two along the Snowy River Country Trail taking in all the natural attractions or detouring onto the many 4WD tracks that dissect the region.
(Image: Buchan Camping- Credit Parks Victoria.)
Snowy River National Park is also home to Little River Gorge and Little River Falls, but don’t let the name mislead you, it’s Victoria's deepest gorge with a 600-metre high waterfall. Take the time to also explore some other nearby walks including Tulloch Ard Gorge Walk and the Raymond Creek Falls Walk.
Towns along the Snowy River are all about country hospitality and one must-do attraction is Buchan Caves. Go underground and explore the incredible tangle of 300-million-year-old stalagmites and stalactites, the winding rivers that flow between them and the formations they’ve created. The Caves are fully lit with walkways to get around with ease and guided tours are available daily. They’re also a constant 17 degrees Celsius, making them the perfect spot to visit on a hot summer’s day. If you do find yourself there on a steaming day, take a dip at the cave's outdoor swimming pool, likely the coldest in Australia.
(Image: Buchan Cave Rock Features.)
Visitors can stay at The Buchan Caves Reserve where there’s camping areas as well as cabins frequently visited by local kangaroos and plenty of birdlife. It’s just a short stroll from town and a great place for a pub stop at The Caves Hotel. A few years ago, the hotel was destroyed by fire, leaving the locals without a local. In a fine example of community spirit, a crowdfunding campaign collected substantial funds to resurrect the popular watering hole.
(Image: Alpine National Park- Kennedy's Hut Camping Area.)
While you’re in Snowy River Country, stop to recharge in the artsy town of Orbost. You can spend the afternoon exploring the town’s shops and cafes, art galleries and a historical Slab Hut, an original pioneer hut from 1872 relocated from the upper Snowy River. Today the hut serves as the tourist information centre. The Orbost Club Hotel offers locally brewed beer on tap and the Cape Conran Coastal Park is a top spot for swimming, surfing, boating, fishing and the like. The area is also rich indigenous history, in particular, along the Bataluk Cultural Trail.
(Image: Errinundra Rainforest.)
Visitors can also set up camp at Orbost Caravan Park as a central location into the Snowy River region, Cape Conran and Erinunda national park.
From the underground of the caves, visitors can put on their hiking boots and hit the hiking trails in Bruthen. The walking trails here wander through state forest and the entrance is easily located via signage off the Great Alpine Road as you approach Bruthen. A variety of tracks varying in difficulty are available with the simplest track being fairly flat and running a little more than half a kilometre.
(Image: Croajingolong Canoeing.)
A NATURAL WONDERLAND
East Gippsland’s Croajingolong National Park with its healthy population of native species and an abundance of birdlife is certainly worth exploring. The bird population here represents nearly 30 per cent of Australia’s total number of bird species. Just near Croajingolong National Park, Cape Howe meets the Nadgee Nature Reserve area, forming an area that UNESCO has deemed a Biosphere reserve with the largest unmodified coastal landscape in south-east Australia.
(Image: Croajingolong- Hiking on the Beach.)
The National Park offers plenty of quiet coastal camping spots that make an ideal home base for day trips, beach walks, boating and fishing on the Mallacoota Lakes, visiting the enormous dunes at Thurra River or venturing out to the lighthouses at Gabo Island with its resident penguin colony and Point Hicks light station located deep within the park.
(Image: Croajingolong Hikers and Point Hicks Lighthouse.)
The rainforest area at Erinundra National Park is a gorgeous walk under the canopy of towering trees and thick oversized ferns. It’s a relatively easy walk and the majority of the trek is over a flat boardwalk designed to protect the rainforest grounds below. You’ll find camping up at Frosty Hollow in the National park that’s quite secluded and off the radar of most tourists.
(Image: The Interior of Bairnsdale's St Mary's Church.)
But if it’s excitement you’re seeking, Lakes Entrance is easily one of Victoria’s holiday hotspots for weekenders and family holidays. Much loved for its beautiful beaches, waterfront cafes and boutiques and plenty of spots for fishing and water sports, the area sits at the edge of Ninety Mile Beach where Gippsland Lakes and the ocean meet. There are much-used foreshore cycling tracks and guided boat tours where you can admire the coastal scenery from Kalimna Lookout.
In Bairnsdale, you can stay at the NRMA Bairnsdale Riverside Caravan Park, a great place to make your home base. Choose from a self-contained cabin, or you can set yourself up on a spacious powered or unpowered site.
(Image: Bairnsdale Park in Bairnsdale.)
Bairnsdale offers easy access to visit Raymond Island, a tiny island accessible only by boat that’s home to Victoria’s largest koala population. Arrive by ferry and wander the island by foot or bicycle as you spot them sleeping and snacking from the treetops.
Foodies will be spoilt for choice in Gippsland with some of the best cool-climate wines, fresh produce, as well as an array of gourmet, produce specialists (think olive oils, chocolates, preserves.) Seafood lovers will find some of the finest in Australia as well as high-quality beef and locally grown produce. Depending on the season, you can also eat apples straight from the farm, pick your strawberries, meet the growers and sink your teeth into some of the region’s best offerings.
(Image: The Beers Are Pouring At The Bullant Brewery.)
Most recently, food lovers have been flocking to The Long Paddock, a once historic bakery has been transformed into a restaurant in East Gippsland’s Lindenow, owned by chefs and couple Tanya Bertino and Anton Eisenmenger the menu is a true reflection of the region’s finest, focusing on the fresh produce available in the region. The property overlooks the Mitchell River and if you’re keen to treat yourself, the view is just as spectacular as the food.
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