Winter becomes much more inviting when crisp alpine air, slow-cooked meals and a roaring fireplace are involved. In partnership with Destinations Gippsland, here’s our guide on where to eat, drink and stay in Gippsland this chilly season.
The Baw Baw region in West Gippsland is bookended by the Strzelecki Ranges to the south and Baw Baw National Park to the north. It’s the perfect jumping-off point to the far-reaching expanse that is greater Gippsland, and it’s an alluring introduction to all that lies east.
Out here is an incredibly idyllic pocket of Victoria. From the undulating panoramas of pastoral fields in Neerim South to mountainous, rainforest-clad Noojee – you’ll find yourself constantly pulling the car over to eyeball the plentiful natural beauty.
The region has been prime dairy country for the past 100 years. These days the dairy farmers are joined by cheese makers, vegetable growers and vintners. With these agriculturalists came artisan producers and chefs keen to harness their abundant surrounds.
Warragul is a one-and-a-half-hour drive east of Melbourne. Start your gastronomic adventures here and then venture onwards and upwards into the more remote hamlets of this verdant region.
Welcome to West Gippsland Nature and Graze Trail
From excellent winery eats among stunning vistas to a farm-to-table breakfast spot, the Baw Baw region won’t leave you hungry.
Locally roasted coffee, small-scale winemakers and cool pints in cold hills. Drinks are sorted from first light to well-past sunset.
Dense temperate rainforests and historic walking trails make for a nature-heavy sojourn in the ranges.
Noojee Trestle Bridge
A 20-minute drive from the expansive pastoral hills of Neerim South to the cool forest of Noojee will bring you to this beautiful old trestle bridge. Built in 1917, the bridge served as part of the railway that ran from Warragul to Noojee, and is one of the few remaining timber trestle bridges in Victoria. You can scramble up the stairs to the right of the bridge and walk across this grand old structure. The short loop back to the carpark will only take 10 minutes, but there’s also a longer walk that runs for two kilometres one-way along a flat, well-formed track.
The Toorongo Falls Scenic Reserve was originally a border of two Aboriginal tribes – the Wurundjeri of the Kulin Nation to the west, and the Braiakaulung of the Kurnai nation, who lived on the river flats of the Latrobe Valley. Many culturally significant sites remain among the tall gums, dense ferns, moss-cloaked boulders and, of course, the rushing river. You can walk, picnic and camp here, and there are two waterfalls to visit. The first is Toorongo Falls, which encompasses a 1.5-kilometre return route that will take you roughly 40 minutes in total. Once you’ve reached these falls, you can also continue up the track to Amphitheatre Falls, which tacks on an additional 15–30 minutes. There are campsites en route to the walk’s starting point, should you like to stay awhile.
Warragul Farmers Market
On the third Saturday of each month, the Warragul Farmers Market brings together more than 60 local producers from the Gippsland region. Organic vegetable growers sit alongside in-season berries and off-season preserves from Sunny Creek Organic, Persian-style feta from Wattlebank Park Farm, wood-fired sourdough from Cannibal Creek Bakehouse, seafood from Lakes Entrance, seedlings from Clear Creek Herb Farm and delicately handpicked saffron from Saffron Willis. There’s live music, coffee, chai and plenty of foodstuffs to enjoy once you’ve done your grocery rounds. 8:30am–1pm.
Walhalla Goldfields Rail Trail
This narrow-gauge railway route once ran from Moe to Walhalla. These days, the tracks might be mostly gone, but you can still make the journey on foot. Start near the old Erica train station and walk all the way to Thomson, passing through tall forest with trickling streams and views of the Thomson River. It’s a seven-kilometre one-way track of compacted earth underfoot. It is mostly suitable for riding a mountain bike, but there’s one narrow section behind Thomson station that may need to be walked. Once you arrive at Thomson, you can take an old train over the remaining tracks to Walhalla.
Between a modern farm-stay and a bed and breakfast hedged by tranquil forest, accommodation here is all kinds of cosy and serene.
The Nature Graze Trail
Slow your city pace, and recoup this winter. Huddle up in West Gippsland, where an abundance of bushwalks, comfort food and wine awaits.
Vue at Jindivick
0409 589 416
Vue at Jindivick
Rise slowly to a breakfast of homemade provisions at this off-grid bed and breakfast in the cloud-cloaked hills of Jindivick. Cosy up by the log-fire in the lounge, or take to the on-site walking trail if you’re feeling lively.