Grab a jacket and pack a tote to explore the produce-laden region of South Gippsland. In partnership with Destination Gippsland, here’s our guide on where to eat, drink and stay in the region.
Over the past few years the fertile land of South Gippsland, known as Prom Country, has sprouted many local food champions. Historically, this has been dairy country and it continues to churn out excellent small-batch cheeses, along with high-quality wines from small acreage. But there’s a new wave of dedicated farmers, bakers, vignerons, brewers and provedores setting up shop, and their passion for the region is catching.
It’s only a 90-minute drive from Melbourne to the historic township of Loch. From the city, take the M1 east, before following the South Gippsland Highway deeper into this stunning countryside.
Welcome to Prom Country Gippsland
This region’s cafes are great supporters of local farmers, turning seasonal produce into comforting eats. Always say yes to a cheese course – you’re in dairy country after all.
The South is lush with excellent liquids. Bookend cool-climate wine tastings with cleansing craft ales and intriguing spirits.
Take in the south’s idyllic rolling hills and native forest on a two-wheel trail, or opt for a culture-driven itinerary, meeting musicians and potters.
Toora Heritage Pear Orchard
In today’s homogenised food system, we could be forgiven for only thinking of pears as “green” or “brown”. This pear orchard was established in 1996 to preserve the 60 varietals of pears that once grew prolifically in South Gippsland. At the Toora Heritage Pear Orchard you can discover varietals such as the shin soo, doyenne diel, black achan and grosse-marie. Regular pruning days are held over the quieter winter months, giving people the opportunity to learn to prune and practise this gardening skill, while grafting days are held between August and September. There’s an annual pear party held each March, and you can pick your own pears straight from the trees between February and April.
Great Southern Rail Trail
This 72-kilometre rail trail runs from the bustling town of Leongatha to Port Welshpool in South Gippsland. For the most part it’s flat or gently undulating, which makes riding the stretch a pleasant journey. The track passes through native bushland and scrub, with the possibility of koala, wombat and wallaby sightings along the way. From Leongatha, the trail passes through Koonwarra (pause to collect picnic goods at the Koonwarra Store), Meeniyan, Stony Creek, Buffalo and Fish Creek. You’ll then be rewarded with views of Wilsons Promontory, before continuing on to Foster, Toora, Welshpool and Port Welshpool. You can hop on and off along the way, or ride a smaller portion if time is limited. Otherwise, stay overnight at one end and make the return journey the following day.
From the town of Toora, it’s a winding 15-minute drive to reach Agnes Falls. At 59 metres it’s the tallest single-span falls in Victoria. The surrounding blue gums provide a lush habitat for bird life, including rosellas, burrawongs, honeyeaters and kookaburras. It’s only a 200-metre walk from the carpark to the lookout, making it a good nature spot to take kids or those with short attention spans.
Lyrebird Arts Council
This arts council has been instrumental in bringing excellent live music to South Gippsland. Gigs are held at two locations within the region: at Mossvale Park in Berrys Creek and the Meeniyan Town Hall. The 1930s-built hall was once the home of the Mechanics Institute, a popular spot for town dances in its heyday. These days it regularly hosts intimate gigs on weekends, luring names such as Sarah Blasko, Gillian Welch and CW Stoneking to perform.
Valley Plains Pottery
Potter Zak Chalmers has one of the most picturesque clay studios in the country. Sitting high on a hill with uninterrupted panoramic views, Valley Plains Pottery is both a studio and shop for this established potter. Chalmers hand-built his two wood-fired kilns in 2001 and 2003, which now serve as steady companions in forming his tableware and sculptural works. Each piece is handmade on site from a mixture of local clay and local or imported porcelain, and gains unique details during the many steps of its formation – at the throwing, glazing and firing stages.
Hole up by a fireplace on a secluded farm, or situate yourself in town close to great country restaurants and live music.
Eating your way around South Gippsland
If you can tear your eyes from the lush landscape, there’s home-style cooking, full-bodied stouts and elegant pinot noirs to discover in this food-centric region.
The Wine Farm
(03) 5664 3204
The Wine Farm
Return to your sleeping quarters for the evening. Lay out your collected provisions for a floor picnic by the fireplace, and perhaps ask your winemaking hosts for a bottle of their pet-nat (like Champagne, but frothier) to enjoy with dinner.