The everyday pressures of life were getting to us and during the winter months it’s not always pleasant touring. We spotted a break in the weather and a trip up the east coast through Gippsland and potentially into New South Wales chasing some better weather was an opportunity we had to grab.
With the Ultimate hooked up, the dog in the back and us up front, we pointed the nose of the Cruiser north-east. Heading to Sale first for a few supplies, we tracked along the back roads to Golden Beach and the first of our dog-friendly camping areas.
NO FIRM PLANS
The rain had been left behind in Melbourne, and we arrived at Golden Beach with plenty of time to set-up camp and enjoy a walk on the beach with our pooch, Pena. I have to admit it’s hard not to smile at the enthusiasm of a young dog on the beach.
Back at camp with the fire going and a cold bevvie in hand, we started planning the rest of the journey. When we looked at the weather map, we soon realised we would be better off staying in the area for the next few days as it was going to be nicer than heading further north. That was a bonus for the fuel consumption factor, too.
This was the fun part: no firm plans and plenty of info about what to explore. Being outside school holidays and the summer peak period also meant we could avoid crowds in our choice of camping spots.
As the time of publication, there were many road and track closures in the region, due to fires and flooding. Please check with the relevant agencies before leaving home, and remember that many of the places affected will enjoy having tourists back in their area as soon as things get sorted!
NINETY MILE BEACH, GIPPSLAND
This pristine beach runs from Seaspray to Lake Entrance, with Bass Strait’s amazing waters pounding its shoreline. The area comprises coastal parks, a marine national park, and the extensive lakes system, with Lake Victoria and Lake Wellington at the hub. As you’d expect from a water world, the adventures above and below the water are vast. Fishing in ocean and lakes, camping, canoeing, diving, surfing… the list of water activities just rolls on.
Located on Shoreline Drive there are various campsites available between Golden Beach township and Seaspray. These get busy in the summer as it’s all free-camping. Some campsites have toilets, and there are plenty of dog-free sites as well.
Our top tip here is to get in early, bring in your timber and, more importantly, take your rubbish out!
There are yet more dog-friendly campsites between Golden Beach and Paradise Beach; however, the Paradise Beach campsites need to be booked and fees apply.
Golden Beach has a very relaxed feel, and all the locals we chatted to were friendly and happy to offer tips on the area. There’s a general store, showers, fuel, bowls and a golf club, plus plenty of free camps.
Playing on the beach is fun, and so is walking around and fishing in the lakes; there are plenty of tracks to wander in and out of the area. Some go to campsites or fishing and boat launching areas, while others lead to bird-watching spots – it’s such a pretty area to explore.
We travelled around many of these tracks, just meandering in and out of the coastal scrub. One track that offered a range of track conditions was Pines Track. This starts on the edge of Paradise Beach, close to Government Road and Fifth Av. This gorgeous track winds its way along the coastal fringes between Lake Reeve and Bass Strait, eventually coming out onto an area to access Lake Reeve. The track is soft and sandy in summer and can have some deeper bog holes when wet. It is definitely four or all-wheel drive, but it’s simply a beautiful track to explore.
It’s an easy drive from Golden Beach to Seaspray, with many campsites and beach access points. One leads to the Trinculo shipwreck. The road winds around Flamingo Beach, Glomar Beach, past more campsites to The Honeysuckles before it hits the growing township of Seaspray.
Seaspray is a thriving little town that is picture-perfect during the quieter months. It becomes a bustling town with a huge caravan park during the summer holidays. We loved the park’s ethos of allowing pets all year round! They offer doggy day care, a pet ‘taxi’, and a secure off-lead area, and that’s awesome for us folk with fur babies!
Heading inland, the road is easy, leading to Longford and then on towards Sale via the Latrobe Swing Bridge. On this day trip, we aimed to head to Stratford as we’d heard there was a special coffee place worth visiting.
After a great lunch outside with our pup on the deck at the Avon Hotel in the heart of Stratford, we meandered off to the Ticklish Turtle Coffee House just as it closed for the day. Well, there’s always a plan B, and after a quick glance at the visitor guide, we realised the Maffco Brewery and Distillery at Maffra was open, and the call of a tasting paddle was worth the cross-country drive.
On previous trips to Maffra, I’d enjoyed visiting the Gippsland Vehicle Collection. While the brewery was our destination on this trip, the Gippsland Vehicle Collection is a place I adore seeing. Maffra itself offers so much to tourists – it’s a great weekend stopover.
TO LOCH SPORT
It’s been a long time since I’d last been fishing at Loch Sport and its grown! Even in winter, it’s a thriving community, backed by a lot of holiday housing.
We camped at the pet-friendly Loch Sport Caravan Park. The park was undergoing a range of work during the off-season but was still quiet and another good experience for Pena. The Drive out to Ninety Mile Beach from Loch Sport is easy and scenic, and plenty of lake access exists.
There are a few places to eat, and The Lakeview Bar and Bistro is a beautiful spot for a snack or meal. There’s a golf club, a supermarket and shops, plus plenty of walks to keep active. And for some great coffee, food and a chat, check out Locky Coffee!
Sale was our central town for everything in terms of supplies. We enjoyed some great coffee and cake at the Centre Bakery in the old church. The Criterion, which I stayed at close to 35 years ago, has since been renovated, and we had a fantastic lunch there before heading south towards Welshpool.
Located on the La Trobe River near where it meets the Thomson River, the Latrobe Swing Bridge is accessed via the South Gippsland Highway. There are two access points off the highway, with parking, walks, birdlife and more to see around the bridge. The bridge is still in action and maintained; however, it’s pedestrian access only. There are plenty of places to picnic, especially on the north side.
There is a lot of very cool street wall art in Yarram. A lot of the work was painted by Mongolian artist Khosnaran Khurelbaatar (known as ‘Heesco®’), who is responsible for many other art projects around Australia, including on the silo trail. The Yarram art was completed in around four weeks.
Tip: Anyone wanting to visit the spectacular Yarram Water Tower, it’s a short walk from the main road, which is the best place to park as the tower is not set-up to cater for caravanners, motorhomes and campers. It’s easy to lose a day just in Yarram itself!
After reminiscing about all the areas we were traveling through, we decided staying at Port Welshpool was a must as I had fished off the old jetty many moons ago and had some real fishing yarns to share! We discovered the 800-odd-metre, 95-year-old jetty had been completely restored in 2018; however, it retained all its old charm and those memories.
It was late afternoon when we set-up camp at the Long Jetty Caravan Park, and yep, it’s dog-friendly. We could see the weather changing and made a run for the jetty. Back in the day, fisherfolk were exposed to the elements. These days, there are some excellent shelters to get out of the worst of the weather!
On The Long Jetty, roughly three-quarters of the way out, it was great to see the refurbished winch shed built with some of the original timber and housing the remnants of the winch. There’s a history of the jetty inside and some excellent info on the fish species on the exterior walls.
The rain hit just on dark; sadly, it was the end of our sunny weather. We realised on this trip that there was so much to see and do in Gippsland. It’s fantastic and a three or four-day stint is not nearly enough to see it all – we’ll be back!
Loch Sport Caravan Park: 03 5146 0264
Seaspray Caravan Park: https://www.seaspraycaravanpark.com/
Gippsland Vehicle Collection: www.gippslandvehiclecollection.org.au
Avon Hotel Stratford: https://avon-hotel-hotel.business.site/
Ticklish Turtle Coffee House: https://ticklish-turtle.business.site/
Heesco Town Yarram: https://heescotown.com/
Heesco Town – Yarram: https://youtu.be/3qRXOKd17NQ?si=7aZQX-iO4K0B0nm6
Heesco, Khosnaran Khurelbaatar www.heesco.com
Yarram Art Trail: https://www.australiansiloarttrail.com/yarram-street-art-town
Long Jetty Caravan Park – Port Welshpool: https://longjettycaravanpark.com.au/
Port Welshpool & District Maritime Museum: https://ptwelshpoolmuseum.wixsite.com/pwmuseum
Travel Victoria: https://www.travelvictoria.com.au/portwelshpool/