With artisan cheeses coming from local producers like Jindi and Tarago River, and a growing reputation for its high quality Wagyu beef, rainbow trout, smoked meats and smart, cool climate wines, it’s fair to say there’s much to celebrate in the otherwise underrated food haven of West Gippsland.
Aside from its close proximity to Melbourne (just over an hour by car), one of the region’s biggest drawcards lies in its relative obscurity as a tourist destination. So while you won’t be reading about it on billboards, you can be assured of some hidden food and wine gems, breathtaking landscapes and a proper, warm, country welcome from the folks that you meet along the way.
You’ll need to head off the beaten track a little to find this place, but the rewards are apparent the minute you’re in the door. Host Philip Hunter will have the fire lit, a charcuterie platter and a bottle of local wine at the ready on arrival – leaving nothing else but to enjoy the stylish, comfortable surrounds and incredible views across the nearby lake and adjoining gardens.
125 Palmer Road, Jindivick
(03) 5628 5235
A stay at Vivere Retreat near Neerim South is the perfect excuse for a country escape. Set on 18 acres with views across the rolling countryside towards the Baw Baw Ranges, the retreat offers a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere in spectacular surrounds. There are three fully self-contained accommodation options and the complimentary breakfast of homemade granola, eggs, local bacon and freshly baked goods is a welcome way to start the day.
1719 Main Neerim Road, Neerim South
0419 993 002
Accommodation options abound in this large part of rural Victoria, from lodges to cottages, bluestone farmsteads to weatherboard lofts. With the lush surrounds and rolling hills, it’s not hard to escape the tiny townships for an evening and relax beside an open fire.
Jindivick Harvest Kitchen
This stylish newcomer has breathed some much-needed life into the region and is the standout option for brunch and lunch. Plonk yourself fireside with the weekend papers or take in the gorgeous views as you enjoy excellent 5 Senses coffee. The truffle and thyme-infused scrambled eggs on local sourdough are a must-eat and there’s a well-stocked providore with all of the best local cheeses, too.
1070 Jackson’s Track, Jindivick
(03) 5628 5337
Big Spoon Little Spoon
Hang on Toto, is this really Warragul? When your chef is ex-The Estelle with Michelin Star credentials you could be forgiven for feeling a little disoriented at this rather urbane Gippy outpost. The menu honours the excellent local produce artfully, and the cracker wine list is strictly regional Victorian. A destination in itself.
57–59 Queen Street, Warragul
(03) 5623 6017
The Outpost Retreat
Chef John Snelling left the big smoke to take over The Outpost more than a decade ago. After winning chef’s hats and accolades, he then decided to simplify and pare back. The result is a genuine country pub with honest food and bucket-loads of atmosphere. Try the whole baked Noojee trout and mingle with local characters in the Tool Shed bar.
38 Loch Valley Road, Noojee
(03) 5628 9669
Wild Dog Winery
While it might feel more like cashed-up Yarra Valley than down-home Gippsland, there’s no denying the appeal of Wild Dog’s imposing hillside setting. Enjoy local produce and cheeses and take a post-prandial amble through the lovely adjoining wetlands.
Warragul-Korumburra Road, Warragul
(03) 5623 1117
Cannibal Creek Vineyard
Chat to winemakers Kristen and Patrick Hardiker and be sure to take home a few bottles of their award-winning cool climate pinot noir and chardonnay.
260 Tynong North Road, Tynong North
0438 518 506 or (03) 5942 8380.
Baw Baw Adventures
Noojee local Peter Christian is the quintessential, bearded mountain man and he knows all there is to know about hunting and fishing. City slickers wanting to connect with their inner bloke can head out for a half-day adventure to learn the ropes from this seasoned pro.
0488 043 939
Walks, Nature and History
The entire region offers a range of opportunities for nature walks and learning about the local history. Check out the beautiful Ada tree and historic trestle bridge (near Noojee) or visit the charming former mining town of Walhalla, with its old steam-powered railway, which wends its way through bush landscapes and the spectacular Stringers Creek Gorge.
Mount Baw Baw
No time to ski? Take a daytrip up to Mount Baw Baw and hit the toboggan slopes or get to work on your own snowman. Warm up afterwards with a mulled wine or a soak in the open air Rock Pool spa.
Lovers of retro, vintage and Danish-inspired furniture and homewares will have a ball fossicking through Bob’s well priced and beautifully restored mid-century gems.
85 Princes Highway, Yarragon
(03) 5634 2419 or 0412 674 164
The Jindi Pig Butchers
Local butcher Kev is in the know about all things free-range and porcine. Drop in with your esky and take home some top-quality, locally smoked pork products.
141 Main Neerim Road, Neerim South
(03) 5628 1797
The region is known for celebrating its prized country produce and craft at a range of local markets including Rokeby, Jindivick and Drouin. Check ahead of time and snap up a bargain.
This article is presented by V/Line.