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Our guide to the best of West Gippsland that’ll have you loving it as much as a local

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images supplied

Full of small communities with big hearts and naturally beautiful stretches of farmland, forest walks, waterfalls and locally-made gourmet food and wine, the West Gippsland region is full of incredible experiences.

Pack up the car for an unforgettable adventure. Here’s our guide to some of the best local experiences.

Where to Eat

Eating Out West GippslandFor the last 100 years or more, the region has been predominantly used for dairy production making it a natural evolution to become a tasty destination for cheeses, locally grown produce and winemakers. All this equates to gourmet goods and chefs utilising some of the finest hyper-local ingredients.

Keen on something a little fancy? The hatted Hoggett Kitchen in Warragul specialises in nose-to-tail dining where you can enjoy a wide array of the region’s best produce in one location with views that are equally as special. The decked dining area at Brandy Creek Estate offers a quiet place for a drink and a bite with equally impressive views.

If it’s the casual fare you’re after, Frankies is a local fave amid brunchers with killer coffee, fresh breakfast rolls, toasties and more. If the timing is right, hit up the Warragul Farmers’ Market at Civic Park on the third Saturday of each month where you can gather up the gourmet goods from cheeses to olive oils, fresh bread and so much more to enjoy later.

Outdoor Adventures

West Gipplands WalksLace up the hiking boots, take the stairs up and walk the 21-metre-high boards of Victoria’s tallest wooden trestle bridge. Cycle or hike through gorgeous bushland on the 6-kilometre (return) Noojee Trestle Bridge Rail Trail from the town of Noojee to the Noojee Trestle Bridge. The mostly flat trail is great for families, beginners or those looking for a leisurely ride.

The walk around Toorongo Falls is pretty spectacular with places to picnic with the birdsong overhead. The 2.2 km return walk takes roughly 40 minutes but no rush, you’ll want to take your time here.

Want something more heart-pounding? Take the Blue Dirt shuttle to the top of Mount Baw Baw and mountain bike your way down. There are three difficulty levels for the three-kilometre descent; each one is nothing short of thrilling.

Melbourne’s closest downhill ski resort, Mt Baw Baw is incredibly popular during the snow season when skiers, snowboarders and snow revellers flock to the destination. Visiting during the off-peak green season offers the option of mountain biking and hiking.

History and Culture

WalhallaIt’s hard to visit and not appreciate the history and culture here, so make it a point to visit the mining town of Walhalla where you can explore the ghost towns and historic villages.

Following the discovery of a three-kilometre gold vein running through Walhalla in the 19th century, it surged to house thousands of gold seekers, but today this quiet town is home to roughly 20. Here you can learn about the life of miners, pan for gold at Stringers Creek, explore the old buildings including hotels, shops and churches as well as take a tour down into the long gold mines. Fancy a scare? The ghost tour at the old cemetery might be right up your alley.

The Walhalla Goldfields Railway also runs through some incredible scenery during the 60-minute ride crossing over several trestle bridges. If you stand on the outside platform at the front of the train, you can also get incredible photos.

Wine Down

Wineries West GippslandThis region does pinot noir pretty well, but the cool climate here means there’s much more varieties to enjoy. With a huge array of cellar doors to choose from, you won’t be stuck for options.

Make it a point to visit Ripplebrook Winery, bringing a bit of Sicily to West Gippsland. Giuseppes, the cellar door and restaurant named for the owner’s father, is open on weekends and features some seriously tasty drops that pair well with their shareable menu.

Another worthy stop is Cannibal Creek Winery. Despite the dubious name, the beautifully designed winery and cellar door (open daily) has a beautiful bar to enjoy guided tastings with a cheese and charcuterie board or an indulgent creamy pasta dish.

For those seeking a brew, Five Aces Brewing Co and Bandolier Brewing are your go-to spots for cold ones. Family-owned Bandolier Brewery’s range is inspired by breweries from around the globe, which is why you can enjoy a Belgian Blonde, a Mexican-style lager and an Irish Cream Porter all in Warragul. In Neerim South, Five Aces is also family-owned and operated, serving small-batch craft beer and a menu that pays homage to Gippsland’s quality produce. Their standard brews are always at the ready with a ‘random ace’ tap always pouring a new recipe/style to try.

No doubt this has whet your appetite to explore the region. You’ll only wonder what took you so long.

Getting There

Getting to West Gippsland is easy. From Melbourne, take the South Gippsland Highway from the Princes Highway from Dandenong. By car, the journey will have you at the gateway to West Gippsland in just under two hours and in Walhalla in roughly 2.5 hours.

Alternatively, hop on a V/Line train and make your way to Warragul in roughly the same time.

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