When you tell most people that you are headed to Melbourne and looking to explore its surrounding region, most people immediately assume you are headed along the Great Ocean Road.
(someone exclaimed GOR! at me as if that was some popular internet-speak for Great Ocean Road. I was extremely perplexed)
Yes the Great Ocean Road is quite spectacular, and it is worth the long drive if you haven’t travelled it before, but for those looking to avoid the crowds and to claim a different experience, you should consider heading down south-east to the Gippsland region instead. I spent an amazing 4D3N on quite an intensive roadtrip around this region (with 1 night in the tiny town of Walhalla), and it really captivated me with its scenic beauty and quiet charm.
Not many people outside of Australia’s Victoria region will have heard of Gippsland, but for those who know it, the Wilson’s Promontory National Park is one of the highlight spots that you absolutely have to make a stop at, and you’re gonna see a ton of photos coming up that prove exactly why!
Wilson’s Promontory, or quite fondly just ‘The Prom’, is a national park at the southernmost tip of the mainland. It apparently gets pretty crowded in the summer , but here in the middle of winter at 10+ degree temperatures, it was blissfully peaceful and absolutely, amazingly, beautiful.
One thing I really enjoyed about Wilson’s Prom was the sheer variety of landscapes you’ll encounter just driving through the park. Every corner you turn is another picturesque moment – I kept having to swerve off the road just so I could grab some pictures or video!
The park is quite large – it took me half an hour to drive from the park’s entrance to Tidal River, the main camping site and point for visitors. as it is not peak season, I probably could have counted the number of cars I spotted in an hour on one hand. What I also managed to spot were some wild critters:
Take the time to do some walks on the trails and enjoy nature up close – I only had an afternoon to spend there and was feeling absolutely sluggish, so I skipped the recommended walks and drove around from point to point instead. The good news is that the easy walks (half to one hour) honestly sound quite doable, and I saw that as someone who would rather go hungry than head out for food when in a truly lazy mood. For the adventure enthusiasts, there are some ‘hardcore hiker’ multi-day treks that bring you right into the heart of the park.
After exploring the Tidal River area, we bought some food and instead of walking over as we planned, drove down to Squeaky Beach to chill out and have lunch.
Named apparently for the squeaky sound produced when you walk across its sand (nope, can’t verify that we heard anything), the beach is a short stroll from the parking area, and was pretty deserted that day.
WHERE TO STAY
The Destination Gippsland folk also put me up at a really nice place called Bear Gully Cottages – with just 4 cottages that can sleep 2-4pax each, and about 40mins drive from Wilson’s Promontory located in a small southern headland area called Cape Liptrap (Our shitty GPS just could not handle being so close to the edge of the map and often placed us in the water instead)
The owner Lee is quite the personality, having spent most of her life working in the South East Asian region (and does she have some great stories to tell), she’s also proven to have quite the eye for design as evident from the beautiful decor of each cottage that she furnished all by herself.
One of my favourite things about Bear Gully is that you are one fairy path away from the beach and even after spending a day at the amazing Wilson’s Promontory and Squeaky Beach, this relatively untouched beach is of comparable beauty. If you want a true getaway, this is probably be it as we only ran into a pair of ladies who had been camping nearby in our two visits to the beach, and absolutely no one else.
Do note that being surrounded by such uninhabited beauty also means that you’re kinda far away from most things – either stock up on food and cook up a storm in the attached kitchen, or be prepared to drive almost an hour to the nearest town to find some food!
Fish Creek is probably the closest town, and you’ll know you’re in the town centre when you see the one cross junction that has quite the eclectic collection of shops – the aforementioned Fish Creek Hotel, Kooks Catering (good lunch option), Ride the Wild Goat which besides an amazing name has some great furnishing and art pieces, and a bookshop we dearly wanted to check out but was closed by children’s book author Alison Lester
Follow my Gippsland Roadtrip:
Many thanks to Wilson’s Promontory and Lee at Bear Gully Cottages for an amazing experience. Also to Destination Gippsland for organizing and sponsoring this Gippsland Road Trip.