In Partnership with Destination Gippsland
5 PLACES TO VISIT IN GIPPSLAND
Discover ancient and modern history in south eastern Victoria:
See the spectacular limestone formations created by underground rivers that flowed beneath the region almost 400 million years ago at Buchan Caves. Royal Cave and Fairy Cave have year-round temperatures averaging 17C, and guided tours operate daily. Royal Cave is known for its calcite-rimmed pools, whilst Fairy Cave has elaborate stalactites and stalagmites. You will find lovely picnic spots in Buchan Caves Reserve, as well as a stream-fed pool. Pitch a tent under a shady tree, stay in a self-contained cabin, or opt for a safari-style tent at Wilderness Retreats Buchan Caves Reserve. Beautiful bushwalks abound in the surrounding area and the nearby Snowy River National Park, where you can spot wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and more than 60 species of birds.
With its Georgian and Victorian-style buildings, the waterfront village of Port Albert is an intriguing place for families to visit and learn about the state’s history. As Victoria’s first port in the mid-1800s, Port Albert berthed ships from Europe and America and welcomed thousands of Chinese immigrants on their way to the goldfields. See fascinating artefacts at the Port Albert Maritime Museum in the 1861 Bank of Victoria building, and the John Irving Archives in the former CBC bank office next door. Kids will love the old cannon from Cliffy Island, the large shell collection and the findings of an archaeological dig. Follow the Old Port Walking Trail, take a scenic boat tour or fishing charter and enjoy fish and chips from Port Albert Wharf, or Port Albert Café and Wine Bar. There is no shortage of options when it comes to accommodation, including Port Albert Waterview Retreat, Hooked In Cottages and Anglers Arms and Fisherman’s Cottages.
Head underground for a taste of what life was like as a miner at Wonthaggi State Coal Mine, which operated from 1909 to 1968. The site, managed by Parks Victoria, has been lovingly restored by the local community. Entry is free to the above-ground site, where you can climb aboard the old steam locomotive, meet Cobber the pit pony, follow the heritage walk and watch a film in the theatrette. Then go underground to explore the network of tunnels where the miners extracted the ‘black gold’ which powered Victoria’s industries and railways. Wonthaggi is just 15 minutes’ drive from the popular seaside town of Inverloch and the same distance from the Bass Coast Rail Trail, making it a wonderful location for a winter family getaway.
The only privately-owned town in Victoria, Licola lies beside the meandering Macalister River. Most of the town, which is owned by the Lions Club, is occupied by the Licola Wilderness Village, which offers activities including canoeing, abseiling, trampolining, archery and mini golf. There’s also an obstacle course, flying foxes, a giant swing and a climbing tower. The town is the gateway to the Alpine National Park, and makes a great base for 4WD and fishing adventures. Grab a bite at the General Store and stay in a cabin or pitch a tent at Licola Caravan Park.
Step back in time with a stroll through this high country town, which boomed after gold was found in the creek that runs through it in the mid-1800s. Start at the visitor information centre, housed in the German Cuckoo Clock Shop in Day St displaying a range of handcrafted clocks. The Historical Park and Justice Precinct includes the police cookhouse, stables and old courthouse (now a museum), and you can see mining relics at the Oriental Claims, which was once one of the largest gold sluicing operations in the world. Take a scenic drive along the Mitta Mitta River and check out the heritage-listed Hinnomunjie Bridge before stopping for lunch at The Blue Duck Inn at Anglers Rest, a traditional country pub at the confluence of three rivers. Back in town, the family-friendly Golden Age Hotel is a great place for dinner, and there are plenty of cosy cottages to stay in nearby.
FOR MORE INFO: visitgippsland.com.au