South Gippsland, Victoria, Australia



The township of Yarram is 221 kilometres east of Melbourne. If coming from Melbourne, there are two major routes:

(a) Princes Highway - via Dandenong then due east through Berwick, and on to Yarragon (great place for coffee and antiques), and on to Traralgon. Turn south just as you come in to Traralgon business centre - watch for the signs to YARRAM - and travel south on Hyland Highway through Gormandale (don't blink or you'll miss it) and into Yarram. Note: If you go through Traralgon toward Sale, or are coming in to Traralgon from Sal, turn south at Hungry Jacks, over the railway line, to the round-about; then turn left and follow the road past the school and then on to Yarram. Take care on the so-called Hyland 'Highway' - it is certainly not a highway and has some interesting curves through the hills, made no less safe by the deteriorating condition of the road due to lack of maintenance, and the occasional log truck. But it is a very scenic drive.

(b) South Gippsland Highway - via Dandenong once again but head down toward Philip Island, taking the signed turnoff to Korumburra and Leongatha on the South Gippsland Highway. Stop for coffee at the Koonwarra store after Leongatha, and continue east, passing near Foster (also great for coffee at The Rhythm Cafe in Bridge Street),  then on to Yarram. Note the turn off to Port Albert seven kilometres before Yarram.

If coming from Sydney, ie from the east, travel along the Princes Highway to Sale, then take the South Gippsland Highway. As you travel through Sale you will reach a roundabout that indicates Melbourne to the right. Go straight on however, past the police station. There are signs to Yarram at the roundabout.

Port Albert is only fourteen kilometres south of Yarram. Take any of the routes mentioned above. Turnoff at Alberton, before Yarram if coming along the South Gippsland Highway from Melbourne; or after Yarram if coming from the north into town. 

Controversial, intrusive, ineffective, community-disruptive, but fascinating to some as a tourist attraction. Why I have no idea, but to the occasional visitor seeing them for the first time, they are awesome as some children will comment. But try to live with them! What may have been accepted as an effective alternative source of energy has turned into a nightmare for many people. This however does not detract from Toora as being a small but delightful town with a number of interesting shops and cafes. Only twenty minutes by car from Yarram west toward Melbourne on the South Gippsland Highway. 

Victoria is blessed with many superb National parks, but none so beautiful and intimate as that in the Tarra Valley, only fifteen minutes by car from Yarram. Superb Mountain Ash and Mrytle Beech provide a cool and sheltered environment for ferns and birdlife. Clearwater streams amble through the two parks, with a waterful and swing bring over a deep fern gully adding to the attractions. The walks are short and comfortable. There is nothing nicer than a picnic in the park be it to shelter during the heat of summer, or to enjoy the crispness of the air in winter.
Access: From Yarram via Devon North, or from Traralgon.
Facilities: Caravan parks (outside the National Park boundary), tea-rooms (at Balook), picnic areas, sheltered bar-b-ques, nursery and crafts (at Eilean Donan), self-contained period home accommodation (at Eilean Donan).
The Visitors centre is open from 10.00am-4.00pm during Victorian school holidays, weekends, and public holidays, except Christmas Day.

The western end of the Ninety-Mile Beach is only twenty minutes by car from Yarram. Rarely crowded, the beach offers surfing, fishing and swimming. The beach is patrolled on weekends and holidays for safer swimming.
Access: South from Wodside on the South Gippsland Highway between Yarram and Sale, or along Pound Road East off the South Gippsland highway just south of Yarram.
Facilities: Caravan park, kiosk, picnic area.

Apart from Port Albert, which is a must to visit, there are a number of small hamlets that allow access to the open sea or inlets, ideal for fishing, boating and relaxing. These include Robertsons Beach, Manns Beach, and McLoughlins Beach. 
Access: Via Yarram or Woodside.
Facilities: Boat ramps at Manns Beach and McLoughlins Beach. 

There are many superb scenic drives through the hills to the north and west of Yarram. The countryside is always green and undulating, with pastured fields in the rich diary country, or rolling hills of natural timber, or pine forests. One of the finest drives is to a beautiful place called Hiawatha, perhaps rather incongruously named, but it does have the Minne Ha Ha falls. This is a quiet picnic area tucked away at the foot of the hills to the west of Yarram, a great place for the family to relax and play. 
Access: From Yarram via Church Road opposite the Hospital.
Facilities: Camping is permitted. Sheltered bar-b-que, toilets.

Apart from the Tara-Bulga national Park, there are a number of other interesting parks and walks in the area. A pleasant walk extends between Seabank Caravan Park and Port Albert along the Old Port waterway. White Woman's Waterhole has an interesting legend attached to it, and is also provides a walking track through natural bush of grey gums and banksia. Access is along Napier Road at Won Wron just north of Yarram. The Alberton West State Forest provides excellent bushwalking tracks - obtain a map from the shire's office in Yaram, or the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Yarram.

One of the most magnificent national parks in Australia, Wilsons Promontory is less than an hour drive west of Yarram. This stunning area offers superb walks, safe beaches for swimming and srolling, and beautiful views across to the islands. You can even see Tasmania from here. The Prom is an easy day trip from Yarram. Nearby Waratah Bay is also worth a visit. There are so many attractions in the region that they warrant a page for themselves.

This magnificent mainly gravel road stretches for 165 kiometres from the South Gippsland Highway at Lang Lang to the Hyland Highway which connects Yarram and Traralgon. It is a magnificent tourist drive, with superb scenery. It was once studded with guest houses as holidaymakers came from Melbourne in their wooden-spoked wheel vehicles, but now only the tarra-Bulga Guest House, built in 1934, remains, at Balook. There are many places to stop and admire the view, with the tarra-Bulga National Park being a highlight.

About a half hour drive from Yarram, the Agnes River drops sixty metres creating a beautiful drop over many stone ledges. The surrounding grounds are well kept as a public picnic area - a delightful place for lunch. Access is from Welshpool; take the road opposite the primary school. The falls are well signposted. 

Apart from the tarra-Bulga National Park, there are a number of interesting natural forests in the region. The BOODYARN STATE FOREST is only twenty minutes from Yarram, along Napier Road at Won Wron (off the Hyland Highway). A picnic area within the forest, at WHITE WOMAN'S WATERHOLE, is a delightful spot. The ALBERTON WEST STATE FOREST is a blue gum and stringy-bark forest and has excellent bushwalking trcaks. maps of the forest areas are available from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment - they have an office in Commercial Road, Yarram.

The Recreation Reserve has been developed to provide pleasant surroundings in a natural bushland setting for a barbecue, bushwalk or just relax.  It is located in the Won Wron State Forest, at the juntion of Napier and Lowes Roads, five kilometres east of Won Wron. The trees surrounding the reserve are mostly yellow stringybark (Eucalyptus muelleriana).  They provide a high quality, long lasting timber that has been milled in the area for over a century.  Grey gums (Eucalyptus cypellocarpa) grow along a nearby creek and can be easily identified by their grey, smooth bark; while on the sandy ridges, tree-like forms of the saw banksia (Banksia serrata) may predominate.
A number of conflicting stories exist about the naming of White Woman's Waterhole. One favoured story, with a happy ending, concerns a ship that was wrecked about 1854 on the 90 Mile Beach.  The sole survivor was a white woman who, after the shipwreck, lived with a tribe of Aborigines who used this waterhole.She engraved a message on a nearby tree which was subsequently found by a passing stockman.  A search party was formed and, after a skirmish with the Aborigines, the lady was rescued whereupon she returned to England. At her parents' request, the section of the tree with the message was cut and sent to them, eventually, so it is said to become part of a London museum collection. During the Depression years the Forests Commission operated charcoal kilns near White Woman' Waterhole. Tracks used for this and a subsequential sawmilling operation in the area, are still evident near the waterhole.

Access to the western end of the Ninety Mile beach is at Woodside, only twentynminutes from Yarram. With its wide stretches of sand, its protective dunes and its surf, it is a popular beach particularly in summer, but being so long, there is never a crowd. Fishing, surfing and swimming are popular, with surf lifeguards at Woodside over the wekends and holidays. But there's more to this area than just summertime - on cool days a walk along the beach all rugged up against the breeze,  watching the white caps dancing on bluegrey waves, breathing the fresh sea air, can leave you wonderfully invigorated. Woodside Beach has good picnic facilities, toilets and changeroom and is extremely popular, but it is very worthwhile exploring the other areas along this superb, unspoiled stretch of coast line.

The islands and mudflats of Nooramunga provide an internationally important habitat for migratory wading birds, and support many other significant animals and plants. Notable bird species include the white bellied sea eagle, the endangered orange bellied parrot, and the rare ground parrot, which lives in coastal heaths. To the north, Gellions Run contains significant remnants of coastal vegetation which has been extensively altered elsewhere.  Nowhere else on the Victorian mainland are there such large areas of saltmarsh and mangroves, with an extensive hinterland of undisturbed natural vegetation.  Rare orchids also grow on Gellions Run.Wild populations of hog deer, an introduced species which is now threatened with extinction in its native Asia, are found on some islands and mainland areas, particularly Gellions Run and Snake Island.  The worldwide conservation of hog deer may depend significantly on the Victorian population. There are protected historic areas at Old Settlement Beach and Tarraville.  Commercial and amateur fishing, including flounder spearing, is permitted, Nooramunga's islands provide sheltered waters for fishermen.

With the establishment of Port Albert as the major access point to Gippsland came the development of the neighbouring town of Tarraville. Sadly, very little remains of the bustling community of the 1850s and 1860s, as most of the building in this area was of timber. There is, however, enough to stir the imagination and the area is worth a visit. The Tarraville Church is a must, a delightful timber church the oldest in Gippsland. While in the Church grounds take time to absorb the atmosphere, listen to the whisper of the pines, imagine the joys and sorrows that the Church has seen, look down the road and picture a time when 39 businesses, 5 hotels and several wine shanties catered for a thriving community and many travellers.  Picture some of the characters of an early colonial town such as this. Ada Crossley, who became Dame Nellie Melba's protege, and then went on to become an internationally famous contralto who sang five Royal Command Performances, was born in Tarraville.

Alberton was proclaimed a township in 1842 and the Post Office opened in 1843.  Victoria Street divided the Government Township of Alberton from Victoria, the township on Orr's Survey A brewery, started in 1847, brought about a change and Victoria Street became Brewery Road.  The Alberton School was in existence when the State of Victoria listed them alphabetically, allotting Alberton School its distinctive Number One. The old Victoria Hotel, which originally was graced with an elegant verandah and balcony, is still serving the public.

Another step back into the past can be taken by a drive to Gelliondale, where little is left now to tell of the busy days of the past.  Coal was mined at Gelliondale and like Alberton, Tarraville and Port Albert, this area was the subject of an extensive town subdivision and much was planned for its future.  All that remains in the township area are the pine trees, a few houses and 'The Dale' hotel, 100 years old and now a private residence. 

Yarram is the centre of a range of wonderful tourist attractions.
Port Albert is known for its excellent fishing and boating facilities.