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Glorious Gippsland - Melbourne to Mallacoota

We're driving to glorious Gippsland 
in Eastern Victoria, to explore 
the beautiful Australian countryside, 
amazing beaches and wonderful rain forests.

We choose Gippsland because of the variety of scenery offered and because it would offer my son, behind the wheel all the way, a good 'learning to drive' experience. We were not disappointed. Here are some of my favourite photo's from our roadtrip - what do you think?

In Victoria all learner drivers must have a minimum of 120 hours supervised driving before they can take their driving test. My Learning to drive in Victoria post tells all, but suffice to say as we pull out of our safe suburban drive, it feels like a bit of a bloody* awesome adventure... 

Setting off to explore Gippsland...
I had planned for us to take the Grand Ridge Road, 133 km's of unsealed gravel track... well we have 105 hours of driving needed... Which sounded lovely, weaving through the green and lush Strzelecki Ranges south of Warrugal, through farmland, plantation forests and rainforests, but I was advised that this was a little too adventurous... 

'Are you mad?' I seem to recall were the exact words used...

...for a novice driver. Instead we take the Monash freeway and South Gippsland highway, the most direct route on the best roads to our first overnight stop in the Tarra Valley. 

We travel through some pretty farmland countryside and stop for lunch at a quaint little village called Loch, where very little seems to have changed over the years... I even reckon they have a fighting chance of selling this old cart, proudly on display in the High Street!

Loch, Gippsland - is like stepping back in time!

That evening we stay at Ferntree Cottage in the quiet, remote (ie no mobile phone coverage...) Tarra Valley. You can see some photos and all the details at the '...And Doggie comes too' post

The next day bright and early we are on the road again. We took the 5km detour off the South Gippsland highway to admire Port Welshpool's longest jetty in the southern hemisphere. One kilometre long, and built in 1939 but unfortunately now in disrepair, and no longer open to the public... 

C'mon Port Welshpool, sort it out! How nice would it be to wander out on the jetty?! I'm sure we could all throw in a few dollars...The fishermen amongst us might even offer a few more bucks...

Port Welshpool's famous Long Jetty

Luckily we are able to walk at Woodside Beach, and walk for miles indeed... It is close to 90 mile beach so you get the picture. A leash-free crazy poodle heaven... Endless sands and not a soul there. How lucky are we to have this pristine coastline so close by?

After our walk, lunch beckons and we have just the place in mind - Port Albert, Gippsland's oldest port. It dates back to the 1840's (old by Aussie terms!) when it flourished as a port for the transport of livestock between New South Wales and Tasmania before becoming the main port of entry for immigrants off to work in the goldfields.

Port Albert - Gippsland's oldest port. (230 km South East of Melbourne)

We time our arrival at Port Albert to co-incide with what the locals tell us is the best fish and chips lunch going. We eat under the hopeful watching gaze of some seagulls, who sit statuesque until there is a whiff of a dropped chip and then they descend quick... Not that we have too many dropped chips, these chips are way too good to share with cheeky birds.
Tarra Bulga National Park's 200km East of Melbourne famous suspension bridge in the Stzelecki Ranges
That afternoon we drive into the Tarra Bulga National Park, one of only four temperate rain forests in Australia. The choice of walks is endless, we choose two of the shorter walks setting off from the Balook Visitors Centre.  

The self guided Fern Gully Nature Walk is spectacular and within minutes you are right in the thick of the massive tree ferns, some up to 15 meters in height. At every turn there is something to admire, and a real 'wow' moment  when we come across the suspension bridge. The only sound is the babbling water in the streams and the chatter of birds...perfect! 
Pretty countryside of Gippsland
After another night at Ferntree Cottage we head off for another full day at the wheel, this time the four to five hour drive mostly along the Princes Freeway to Mallacoota. We break the journey at several points and stop off for lunch at Lakes Entrance.

Lakes Entrance is a popular holiday destination in it's own right. The Gippsland Lakes offer much to do for the water enthusiasts with the options of the beach, boat, estuary or river. We've previously had a good holiday here, so today it's only a quick stop for lunch.

Lakes Entrance (319 km east of Melbourne)

Back on the road and there is plenty of wildlife along the way. We are especially aware that as it heads towards dusk that these animals are prone to come bounding out onto the road. We keep a close eye on the warning sign along the way but encounter very little problems.

There is always something of interest on the way in Gippsland

As we eventually wind down the hill into Mallacoota every other car is towing a boat and we're soon to find out why! People love Mallacoota, returning year after year, for it's relaxed, unspoilt charms. You can get a campsite right at the waters edge and there is plenty of choice for accommodation in the town. Glorious open surf beaches, in stark contrast to the sheltered lakes and rivers offer endless fishing, swimming and boating opportunities and make it a perfect choice for a holiday.

Mallacoota (523 km east of Melbourne)

It was great to finally arrive in Mallacoota  
To be continued...

(*Bloody— Universal epithet the great Australian adjective. Used to emphasise any 
point or story. Hence "bloody beauty"(bewdy!) or "bloody horrible" or even 
"absa-bloody-lutely"! )

PS Thank you for taking the time to read my post, 
I hope to visit your blog soon.
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I'm linking today with Alphabe-Thursday.  and Our World Tuesday
This week our letter is "G" for Glorious Gippsland! 
Thank you to all the hosts!   

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