Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.
Recent bushfires have impacted communities across Victoria and with many regional towns relying on tourism to thrive, now is the time to plan your next visit.
We’re encouraging all Victorians to holiday within the state this year – because a short stay goes a long way to supporting regional Victoria.
Labour Day and Easter are fast approaching so grab an esky and hit the road! However, if a getaway isn’t on the cards, those wishing to help can still do so by making a conscious effort to buy local. It all counts.
Read on for some recommended visits to the Gippsland region.
Day 1 – Paynesville (Melbourne to Paynesville 294kms)
Set out for adventure on Gippsland's waterways from lively Paynesville – a charming village surrounded by lakes on three sides, with canals and inlets providing plentiful sheltered moorings for boats. This waterfront favourite town boasts unrivalled access to the water-playground, enhanced by its system of water canals. Anglers, windsurfers, jet skiers, and water skiers flock to the town to take to the water.
With direct access to the ocean, Gippsland is a place for seafood lovers to get their fill of some of the freshest catch in the country. Overlooking Raymond Island in Paynesville, Sardine Eatery and Bar’s menu showcases Gippsland’s finest produce by award winning chef, Mark Briggs and Pier 70 in Paynesville is another one not to be missed. On route make sure to stop off in Lindenow for lunch at Long Paddock , an old café house in a historic bakery that plates up exquisite food using local ingredients.
Paynesville offers accommodation for all styles of traveller. For lovers of a relaxing with a waterfront view, Captains Cove, set on the Paynesville canals on the Gippsland Lakes is perfect. Each apartment has its own private jetty in Gippsland’s’ most protected waterfront mooring and ideal location lends to a relaxing stroll to the local village, cafes and restaurants.
Raymond Island offers some of the best koala spotting around. Jump on a ferry from Paynesville to the Ride the Koala’s trail. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled as there is a spectacular array of native animals including echidnas and kangaroos and coastal birds. The trail can also be walked in approximately 20 minutes so follow it up with a visit to the conservation centre to learn more about the conservation practices on the island. For mountain bike enthusiasts, hire a bike or bring your own and cycle some of the scenic Gippsland Lakes Discovery Cycling trail.
Day 2 – Lakes Entrance (Paynesville to Lakes Entrance 54kms)
Boasting Australia's largest inland network of waterways, Lakes Entrance has long been a popular Gippsland holiday spot. Refresh at one of the swimming beaches, relax over a coffee at a waterfront café with views of a fleet of colourful fishing boats. Stroll across the footbridge from the foreshore promenade to see the vast expanse of the Ninety Mile Beach and soak up the fresh sea breeze.
Fuel your day ahead with an amazing coffee and farm free, free range scrambled eggs on toast at Albert & Co. A large number of fishing trawlers operate in the area that fuel the regions reputation of being known as a seafood capital. It’s the perfect place to try and catch your own fish or head to Off the Wharf and watch the days catch being unloaded and fill your eskie with fish for dinner that night. Dine alongside locals on a classic pub meal at Buchan Pub and head to the Metung Pub for a global menu served in a light-filled bistro with water views & a laid-back vibe.
Combine the fun of a farm stay with modern and luxe accommodation at Jetty Road Retreat. Set amongst treetops overlooking the majestic Gippsland Lakes its quite the hidden gem that’s a memorable setting for your stay in the region. Alternatively, Sandbar Motel and Lakes Waterfront Motel, have a pool on site for those unseasonal Autumn hot days.
A trip to Lakes Entrance isn’t complete without visiting one of the world’s longest stretches of sand, Ninety Mile Beach and ripping your socks off to plant your toes in the pristine sand. Book a Segway Adventures and glide across the smooth sands that’s both exhilarating and relaxing at the same time or cruise the Gippsland Lakes with Lonsdale Cruises in search of the dolphins that frequent the area. Venture Out offer riding and paddling experiences and gear to hire for a self-guided adventure.
Day 3 – Bairnsdale (Lakes Entrance – Bairnsdale 42km)
Bairnsdale is set along the wide, slow-flowing banks of the Mitchell River Bairnsdale is the gateway to the regions natural beauties. The town’s rich heritage can be found throughout the town’s architecture including several of its B&B’s and St Mary’s Church. See first-hand the thriving creative community at East Gippsland Art Gallery or wander the shops and find some local treasures or head down to Mitchell river for a walk along the banks.
The fertile area is known as a “food bowl” producing a bounty of delectable produce. Pop into the farm gates at Fruit Farm, Johnsonville or Picnic Point Farm for cherries, stone fruits, apples and pears bursting with flavour. After a morning of activity, stop by Northern Ground for lunch where the food is both beautiful to taste and eat – and you can feel good about eating it because the menu focuses on showcasing local produce. David Lucke’s Fresh Food Market a great spot to fill your eskie with locally sourced produce to create some fantastic meals at home. The Main Hotel Bairnsdale will have patrons delighted with quality pub meals of generous proportions.
The Riversleigh, positioned in the heart of the CBD, provides the perfect weekend getaway retreat. Dating back to 1886, it’s an East Gippsland icon with original element surrounds. Another magnificent home and stately landmark building in East Gippsland is the Dalfruin Heritage B&B. Alternatively, the Tanjil Motor Inn and Mitchell on Main offer a selection motel and apartment accommodation.
Book a scenic flight with Lakes Entrance Helicopters and take in by air, the dramatic winding waterways, the magnificent silt jetties and the iconic golden stretch of Ninety Mile Beach to the Entrance. Visit Nyerimulang Homestead, set on a clifftop above Gippsland Lake and find the perfect picnic spot to sit back and take it all in or meander along bush and farm tracks and through the East Gippsland Indigenous Plant Garden.
For more holiday ideas, visit the Visit Victoria website.
Or, to discover our recommendations for Victoria's High Country, read our second instalment: Getting back to Regional Victoria – plan your trip to the High Country.