Driving along the Gippsland coastline has to be one of Victoria's finest road trip options. Land of the Gunaikurnai and Bunurong people, the area has staggeringly beautiful landscapes and waterways. From lakes to bushland to mountains to that incomparable coast Gippsland is a traveller's delight. Spend some more time driving around the cute villages and engaging with the local vineyards for some top-notch experiences and grazing opportunities galore.
Throughout autumn we're bringing you guides to our state's wonderous road trips in line with Visit Victoria's 'Stay close, go further' call-to-action. Rediscover all the natural beauty, one-of-a-kind villages, covetable dining experiences and memorable holidays Melbourne and Victoria have to offer. To help you do that, we've designed itineraries perfect for a day trip drive-through or for longer exploration that requires you to pack the boot a little more. Here's what you need to know before you hit the road.
Pound "Inverloch" straight into your GPS and hit the road. The cute coastal town attracts lots of families, windsurfers and leisurely swimmers during summer with the beckoning calm waters of Anderson Inlet. Head to Inverloch in autumn and you'll be delighted to discover a village with fabulous wineries, easy breezy beach walks and a buzzing art scene. Just be sure to catch that golden sunrise and views over the Bass Strait from the cliff tops along the Bunurong Coastal Drive on your way out (or in).
Eat and drink
The rolling hills and rich varied soils of Gippsland make it an idyllic and distinct wine region. You'll find reds, whites and beyond from the diverse vineyards in the area. In South Gippsland you'll find Dirty Three Wines, a small winery that specialises in Pinot Noir born from its three different soils (thus the name). Dirty Three has its rustic cellar door in Inverloch, so you can try their wares next to the interior fireplace or out back in their courtyard with a locally-stocked charcuterie plate.
A short ten minute scoot out of Inverloch will bring you to Harman Wines, where you can sample the sustainable, largely wild-fermented wines on the family-owned vineyard's grounds. Take in the serene views dotted with chooks and sheep while you sample treats from Harman's local produce-centric menu. Enjoy woodfired pizzas, wedges, cheese platters and Prom Coast ice cream and sorbets with a glass or two of the vineyard's signature chardonnay or sauvignon blanc.
See and do
Nothing screams "holiday" quite like taking in some of our country's finest beaches, sea views and bushwalks in fresh salty air. You'll find it all in abundance as you drive along the Gippsland coastline but if you have a bit more time on your day trip add the one-and-a-half hour Inverloch Foreshore Walking Track to your itinerary. This family-friendly ramble takes you on a scenic pathway through Andersons Inlet and Point Smythe with a little romp through the Rainbow Park playground for the kids. On Inverloch Beach you'll also encounter gothically photogenic piles of driftwood, some pushed together in informal, scraggly structures. Snap a few conversation-starting pics for your Instagram while you explore the weird and wonderful clumps.
Inverloch isn't all about bumming around on the beach it's also home to makers, artisans and artists who contribute to a dynamic village community vibe. Pop in to Fiona Kennedy's open art studio and marvel at her large-scale oil paintings. Visitors are welcome to wander around the studio and take in the nature-inspired magical realism world Kennedy has created with her giant renderings of humpback whales, flying turtles and feminine figures with resplendent golden wings.
Stay a while
Exploring Gippsland is totally doable in a quick day trip as it's only two and a bit hours out of Melbourne. But you should expand your road trip to include a few days of roaming around the Gippsland Lakes area and all the waterway treasures it holds. A longer trip means you can laze around on Ninety Mile Beach or take the free ferry on a koala-spotting mission to Raymond Island. You're also more likely to spot the area's endangered Burrunan dolphin population. Any dolphin enthusiast worth their salt knows that persistence is key when trying to find one.
Eat and drink
Gippsland Lakes is a fishing paradise so you'll be spoilt for choice if you're an insatiable seafoodie. Make a bee-line for Sodafish in Lakes Entrance, a fish and chippery and bistro housed in a converted ferry in Lakes Entrance. Book a table upstairs to feast on modern classics from the bar and grill like just-caught sardines with pickled pine mushrooms or woodfired local scallops on a rosemary skewer with guanciale and olive jam. The bottom level of the floating restaurant is your go-to for top notch fish and chips with crispy battered delights, fresh salads and crinkle cut chippies.
If hunting down the nearest brewery is more your speed, you'll find a fantastic local watering hole to bend an elbow in Lakes Entrance. Red Bluff Brewers has all the sessionable craft beers you could ever want. Pull up to the tap room to try their seven seasonal beers right next to where the magic happens. Enjoy Red Bluff Brewers' classic pale ale, fruit-leaning tropical ale or something more adventurous like the Cow-A-Bunga Milk Stout or a Blush & Desire Strawberry Gose.
See and do
Gippsland Lakes is known as a bit of a boating playground, with a huge network of lakes, marshes and lagoons to explore. To hit the water in style, safety and comfort book in with Riviera Nautic a local company with many tailored packages for any sort of cruising experience. You can charter a boat without needing a licence and expect 24-hour support from the friendly staff. And you can even stay overnight on a well appointed motor cruiser with the whole fam or hire a memorable sunset trip aboard a sail boat with your main squeeze – there's an abundance of ways you can enjoy Riviera Nautic's fleet.
When you're making a base in Gippsland Lakes you can't go past the expansive, villa-dotted grounds of McMillans of Metung Coastal Resort. Book your own cottage for two or the whole family and be met with comfy open plan interiors and your own private BBQ on the verandah. The lush resort has emerald swimming pools, native flora gardens and its own private jetty to launch a boat or fish from. Take in the lake views while you unwind from busy days of driving around Gippsland's gems.