Traralgon and the Latrobe Valley

Contributed By Gavin Wyatt

The expansive Gippsland region covers most of eastern Victoria, stretching from the beaches and lakes of the southern coast right up to the snowfields of the Alpine National Park, encompassing rainforest, mountains, wide rivers and lush valleys. It is an immense place for any visitor to explore, but with the amount of beautiful sights, historic places and fun activities on offer any holiday here is going to be packed with fun and adventure. The Latrobe Valley is a centrally located region where many choose to base themselves on their holiday in Gippsland because of its ease of accessibility to numerous nearby attractions. With the Latrobe River on your doorstep, surrounded by historic gold rush towns and made to feel welcome by the friendly Gippsland folk you will want your holiday to never end!

The town of Traralgon is considered the entertainment capital of the Latrobe Valley, which together with its great location has assisted in boosting the tourism profile of this important industrial centre. Situated on the Princes Highway just 160 kilometres south east of Melbourne, this town is easy to get to, but after a full and exciting holiday exploring the region you will find it hard to leave! Initially it was a stopping place for drovers in the gold rush, and is steeped in heritage that pays homage to this important development era. Today Traralgon is the largest town in the Latrobe Valley, and a service centre for the surrounding timber, farming and paper industries. By day it is a shoppers paradise, and by night its a fun and funky party town where restaurants, cafes and nightclubs serve up a range of culinary delights, beverages and entertainment. With all this going on, and with the Latrobe Valley waiting to be explored, Traralgon certainly presents itself as an attractive holiday destination.

There is plenty to do within the town itself. The beautifully designed golf course is a challenging place to try your hand at 18 holes, and you can enjoy a meal and a drink in the clubhouse afterwards. Victory Park, near the centre of town, is perfect for picnickers and walkers. The gardens are beautifully maintained and house the large marble sculpture Lars Compatalis and a historic band rotunda. A short walk away, (crossing a footbridge that traverses a creek), is Newman Park, which is extremely popular amongst kids because of its large adventure playground and miniature train that operates one Sunday a month. After a day browsing the parks and shops of Traralgon, why not head to the Latrobe Performing Arts Centre for a comedy show or some live music? Its a great way to kick off an entertaining evening.

Fifty kilometres south of town lies the Tarra-Bulga National Park, whose fern gullies are home to giant Mountain Ash trees and ancient myrtle beeches. A visit to this 2015 hectare park is like taking a step into the movie set of a fantasy film- the thick green vegetation, the moss covered rocks and tree trunks and the spectacular landscapes seem like they could be home to pixies, dwarfs and gnomes! The park is situated on the Strzelecki Ranges and the rocky slopes provide the basis for a great variety of bushwalks and scenic drives, where wide views of the surrounding countryside greet you around each corner. Grand Ridge Road is a popular choice for a scenic drive, although care must be taken due to its narrow and windy nature. the Fern Gulley Nature Walk is a self guided walk that starts at the Bulga Picnic Ground and includes the infamous suspension bridge. There are numerous other picnic areas in the park, with the one at Tara Valley being one of the most popular because of its close proximity to Cyathea Falls.

To immerse yourself in the gold rush history of the Latrobe, and to experience a quaint and friendly little town, you simply have to visit Walhalla. A 40 minute drive north of Traralgon, this was one of the most important towns in the gold rush period, at its peak being home to over 500 people. Only a small population still resides there, but they have maintained their buildings and heritage of the gold-era, meaning a visit here is like a journey into the past. This, coupled with the beautiful setting of the town in a deep river valley surrounded by state forest, makes Walhalla a must on your to-do list.

The popularity of the Latrobe Valley means there are any number of accommodation options you can choose from, in fact you're quite spoiled for choice. For a convenient, comfortable and welcoming place to base yourself on holiday here you cannot go past the century inn Situated right next to the Princes Highway, it has a wide range of accommodation options that cater to singles, couples, families and groups. There is a popular restaurant and bar on site, and conference facilities are also available.

So there you have it- with the wealth of attractions in the Latrobe Valley, and the whole of Gippsland surrounding it just waiting to be explored there really is no excuse for not planning your next holiday to this region! Exciting and convenient Traralgon is the perfect place to base yourselves, and from the comfort of the Century Inn there you can see what the city and region has to offer. The easiest and safest way to do this is in a rental car from Discovery Carhire, who help take the hassle out of your holiday.

Gavin Wyatt is a journalist with a passion for travel. originally from Zambia he has traveled around the world to end up on the sunny shores of Australia. For more of his articles visit Victorian Car Hire

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