Phillip Island and Gippsland Discovery Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Phillip Island and Gippsland Discovery
The Phillip Island and Gippsland Discovery region of Victoria features a diverse landscape and a number of towns with a wide variety of attractions.
Wilsons Promontory National Park
49,000ha.With its wild, rugged scenery and good beaches, Wilsons Promontory National Park is one of the best-known national parks in Australia (438). Occupying the whole of the peninsula which forms the most southerly point on the Australian continent, it consists of an ancient granite promontory with an extraordinary landscape of forest-covered hills, valleys with patches of woodland, swamps, salt marshes and long sand dunes. There are bathing beaches with calm water and others more suitable for surfing. Parts of the peninsula (with sea caves, curious rock formations and inlets) are accessible only from the sea. The rich fauna can already be seen from the excellent access road to Tidal River (grazing emus and kangaroos, friendly wombats). Innumerable brightly colored lorikeets and seagulls congregate on the campsite. The road ends at the Mount Oberon parking lot, beyond the township of Tidal River. On the southern tip of the promontory is a lighthouse of 1859.In the Prom, as the park is familiarly known, there are more than 80km of walking trails. The National Park office in Tidal River provides information about the various routes and detailed maps of the park.
Port Albert, Australia
Port Albert (pop. 300), a tiny but historic township which was named after Prince Albert the Prince Consort, it was the first established port in Victoria. Sailing ships from Europe and America once docked at the large timber jetty here, and boats from China brought thousands of prospectors to the goldfields in northern Gippsland. Originally established for trade with Tasmania, Port Albert was the supply port for Gippsland until the railroad line from Melbourne to Sale was opened in 1878.Port Albert has preserved a number of old buildings - government offices, shops, the Bank of Victoria, the Maritime Museum, Christ Church (1858). Close to the waterfront is the Port Albert Hotel, first licensed in 1842, one of the oldest hotels still operating in Australia.
Gippsland Lakes consists of lakes and rivers joined by canals. One of the popular holiday resorts in this area is Lakes Entrance.
Korumburra (pop. 2770) is in a rich dairy farming region. Coal was formerly mined here for the railroad. Coal was discovered in 1872 but began to be worked only in 1890. The last mine closed down in 1958.Coal Creek Historical Park is a faithful reconstruction of a 19th C mining settlement.
There is good fishing in Waratah Bay and Corner Inlet. From Cooks Hill there are wide views of Wilsons Promontory National Park and the Bass Strait.
Baw Baw National Park
3300ha.Baw Baw National Park is ideal country for long-distance walks in summer and a good skiing area in winter. The landscape is dominated by the precipitous slopes of Mount Erica (1524m) and deeply indented valleys. The vegetation is sub-alpine. Forests of snow gums with dense scrub undergrowth reach up to the summit regions of the hills at the south end of the Central Highlands, from which there are fine views.Outside the national park is the popular Alpine Village skiing area, a tourist center with accommodation and supplies. There is usually snow until September at heights above 1200m. There are numerous ski lifts to cater for the large numbers of skiers who come here at weekends and during the holidays, although the pistes are not so demanding as those of Falls Creek and Hotham Heights.Some of the trails in the park are strenuous. Within the park is the south end of the long-distance alpine trail from Walhalla to Tom Groggin on Mount Kosciusko (NSW).
Morwell (pop. 17,000) is one of the leading towns in the Latrobe valley. Founded in 1861 under the name of Maryvale, it prospered as a supply center for the gold diggers of Walhalla and Tanjil. The importance of the town and surrounding area now depends on the power stations of the State Electricity Commission (SEC), fuelled by brown coal from the opencast mines in the Latrobe valley, which generate over 85 per cent of the electricity produced in Victoria. Morwell also has some secondary industries such as the Maryvale Paper Mill (10km north), the largest in Australia.The main sights are the large-scale opencast coal workings, the power stations and the Latrobe Valley Arts Centre.
Tarra Bulga National Park
1230ha.In the hilly landscape of the Strzelecki Ranges some patches of the old Gippsland Forest and temperate rain forest vegetation have survived - huge mountain ashes (giant gums) and deep gullies with tree ferns and a rich bird life are features of Tarra Bulga National Park.
Address: Level 10 535 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
Useful tips: Access from the north on Midland Highway from Morwell, then east on Grand Ridge Road; from the south via Welshpool north on Midland Highway, then Grand Ridge Road to park, or south from Traralgon (35km).
Morwell National Park
283ha.The steep wooded slopes of the Strzelecki Ranges and the luxuriant growth of ferns along the streams are among the last relics of the Gippsland Forest with its rare butterfly orchids.
Foster (pop. 1010) is an attractive little town within easy reach of Corner Inlet, Waratah Bay and Wilson's Promontory National Park. Known during the gold-digging period in South Gippsland as Stockyard Creek, it was renamed in 1871 after WH Foster, chief inspector of the goldfields in the region.There is a good general view of the area from Foster North Lookout, 6km northwest of the town. There are beautiful beaches at Walkerville and in Waratah Bay. 12km south of Walkerville is Cape Lintrap (lighthouse), from which there are superb views of the rocky coast and the Bass Strait.
The richest finds of gold were made at Turtons Creek, 18km north of Foster. Lyrebirds can sometimes be seen in the tree fern gullies nearby.
Moe (pop. 20,000), in Gippsland, is a coal-mining town occupied by workers in the opencast mines of brown coal in the area. Many of its inhabitants came from Yallourn, another mining town that had to be evacuated because it was situated over valuable seams of coal.The Yallourn power station with its three huge cooling towers, using coal from the Yallourn opencast mine, can be visited. On the Princes Highway is Old Gippstown Pioneer Township, an open-air museum in which old buildings of the pioneering period have been brought together.
46km northeast of Moe is the old gold-mining town of Walhalla, where gold was worked between 1865 and 1913. In those days Walhalla had a population of 5000: now it is almost a ghost town. Visitors can see the Long Tunnel Mine. A few kilometers east is Baw Baw National Park.
The old mining town of Wonthaggi (pop. 6710) was formerly the main supplier of coal to the Victorian Railways. It began life as a tented town in 1909, when the government opened up the coal mines. Coal continued to be worked here until 1968. Since then Wonthaggi has become the center of a pastoral and dairy farming area.The town's main feature of interest is the State Coal Mine Historic Reserve, with a mining museum (conducted tours). The State Coal Mine Historic Reserve is featured on the National Register.
Within easy reach of Wonthaggi, on a beautiful road, are good beaches at Inverloch, Walkerville and Tarwin Lower. Good surfing, swimming and fishing on Cape Paterson (Bunurong Marine Park).
In summer, Inverloch (pop. 2100) is a popular holiday resort with beautiful long beaches (surfing). Anderson Inlet has the most southerly mangrove swamps in Australia. It is named after Samuel Anderson, who settled here in 1835, soon after John Batman, founder of Melbourne, and his companions had established themselves in Port Phillip Bay. Thereafter Inverloch developed into an important coal-shipping port.Bird watching at Townsend Bluff and Maher's Landing. There is a beautiful road from Inverloch to Cape Paterson.
Sale (pop. 14,000), the administrative and commercial center of Gippsland, developed rapidly after drilling for oil in the Bass Strait began.The main features of the town are its situation on Lake Guthridge, an attractive pedestrian zone and a number of handsome old buildings, notably the Criterion Hotel with its wrought-iron verandahs. In the tourist information center there is an exhibition on the extraction of oil and natural gas.
To the south of Sale, near Lake Wellington, is a large gas processing plant. A reminder of Sale's one-time importance as a port is a canal linking it, by way of the Latrobe and Thomson Rivers, with Lake Wellington which was used by steamships until 1920. 5km south of Sale is a 60m long swing bridge over the Latrobe River, built in 1883. 32km south is Ninety Mile Beach (Gippsland Lakes), and 25km away is Marlay Point, on the shores of Lake Wellington.110km north by way of Stratford and Maffra is the old gold-digging settlement of Dargo. 150km northwest via Licola and Jamieson is Lake Eildon (the road may be closed in winter). There are also shorter trips northwestward to the hills round Maffra and Heyfield.
Welshpool (pop. 760) is a small dairy-farming town. 8km from the town is Port Welshpool, with a deep-water harbor which is the home of a fishing fleet and a supply base for the oil and gas fields in the Bass Strait. The large drilling rigs are assembled here. There is now a catamaran ferry from Port Welshpool to Tasmania.The Maritime Museum in Port Welshpool has an interesting collection of material on the history of seafaring. There are also excellent facilities for water sports.
At Toora, just off the South Gippsland Highway, are the Agnes Falls.60km north of Welshpool is Tarra Bulga National Park.