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Leave your urban worries behind and discover an idyllic country getaway, just a stone’s throw from Victoria’s bustling capital. Head out on the Princess Freeway, clock 90-minutes from Melbourne, and you’ll hit the West Gippsland central hub of Warragul. This lovely rural town possesses heritage charm and a thriving outlook. Wander the streetscapes and spot elegant 19th-century touches in the buildings. Surrounded by rolling hills and rich green pastures dotted with dairy cows, the landscape around Warragul is also nicely punctuated by the occasional, flourishing vineyard. There are forest walks to enjoy and cycling trails to pedal your way through the vicinity. For starters, take the Two Towns Cycling Trail covering the flat, even stretch (of eight kilometres) between Warragul and Drouin.
Warragul lies between two mountain tops. Venture past farmland, and the Strzelecki Ranges to the south are a walker’s delight. Also nicknamed the Land of the Lyrebird, make sure to keep a look out for this shy creature as you wander these peaceful native forests. The alpine resort of Mount Baw Baw and the Great Dividing Range are around 90-minutes to Warragul’s north. The Victorian Alps are a nature playground you can enjoy all year round. Visit in the winter to ski, toboggan and snowboard Baw Baw’s famous family-friendly snowfields; explore the tracks by mountain bike when the weather’s warmer; or hike the meadows carpeted with native wildflowers during the green season. All-year round activities – that won’t cost a cent – include a rock pool spa surrounded by eucalypts and boulders; fly fishing along mountain rivers; and for those who like a bit of bounce in their holiday, why not try the resort’s in-ground trampolines.
Your hire car will help you discover all the pleasures of taking a break around Warragul. From quaint neighbouring villages to multi-tiered waterfalls, great little cafes, and exciting gourmet excursions to indulge in. A simple drive along Old Sale Road will do wonders to clear your head and fill your lungs with fresh air. The opportunities to unwind in Warragul are just too easy!
When it comes to food and arts, the scene around downtown Warragul is vibrant on both accounts. Festivals, food trails, and performances fill in the picture. Combine food, art and cultivation during January at Creative Harvest – featuring beekeepers, printmakers, innovative produce gardens, mosaics, sculptors and more. There’s also the Harvest of Gippsland festival and Farm World – both pay annual tribute to the farming history of the town. If you’re a green thumb or garden lover, celebrate local horticultural treasures at Gardivalia Festival of Gardens.
Head to the beautiful leafy grounds of the Civic Precinct and make sure to check out the monthly Warragul Farmers’ Market, with over 60 stalls brimming with fresh, gourmet fare sprawled across the park. Offering live music, delicious bites, and a thumbs-up caffeine fix, this one’s a must-do monthly Saturday experience. Otherwise, nip into Stella’s Pantry or Warragul Lean & Green to fill up your larder with top-shelf regional goods. Time your visit to catch a concert or premier performance across the street at the wonderful West Gippsland Art Centre – the region’s leading entertainment and cultural hub. Dine before or after the show at Warragul’s favourite eating spot, the Courthouse Restaurant and Garden Bar. From country burgers to seafood paella and halloumi steak, there’s something for every taste. For some Russian flavours and good coffee opt for Shed 28; order tasty Asian at Thai Warragul; or try Whitegrain for modern Vietnamese.
While near Warragul, keep an eye out for craft markets, galleries and studios, and get to know the work of the region’s talented makers and artists. Take time to visit the one-acre Laurie Collins Sculpture Garden and gallery in nearby Jindivick. Imaginatively constructed from recycled metal and junk, perhaps you’ll find a unique and whimsical memento for your home or backyard to take away. From here, journey a few minutes north to Neerim’s Serigraph Gallery with its focus on modern arts and crafts, while the picturesque countryside in these parts is a drawcard for visual artists.
Continue 15-minutes up the road to Noojee, another charming village with several attractions, including the Noojee Trestle Bridge, and the beautiful Toorongo Falls and Amphitheatre. Take the fern-filled loop walk through this serene forest. If you’re a keen angler, head for the scenic Alpine Trout Farm. All fishing gear is supplied, and you can cook up your trout or salmon on the spot. For a classic country experience at the Baw Baw foothills, don’t leave without a visit to Noojee Hotel. Order a pub meal and a cold one as you settle on the balcony with a relaxing view of the bushland and river. By the time you return to your comfortable accommodation in Warragul, you’ll be happily fed and wonderfully rested.