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Neerim South has always been a green emerald of a place. A scene of rolling hills, rich red earth and contented cows enjoying verdant pastures.
But last year this tiny spot received a Regional Arts Victoria Small Town Transformations grant from the Victorian Government of $350,000 and it has spent that money to really put the area on the tourist map.
The money goes to community projects such as workshops and art prizes which are used to enhance the area further to attract visitors. But the area already had a lot to offer.
Country markets are always a lot of fun and the the Jindivick Country Market has an added incentive of being in lovely gardens with spectacular views. You can buy lots of local produce, including organic fruit and vegetables and handicrafts.
9:00am - 1:00pm First Saturday of every month except Jan and Feb, Jackson's Track, Jindivick.
You could take some of your tasty finds and have a picnic at Tarago Reservoir Park. There is a pleasant walking path at the bottom of the dam wall. The walk winds its way through a damp valley, which is home to eucalypts and tree ferns over two hundred years old. The picnic area has lawns where you can lay out your picnic and look out over bush settings. There are views of the reservoir and surrounding landscapes.
I always think that this old railway bridge is a fascinating part of local history. The Noojee Trestle Bridge was built in 1919 and made from local timbers. It is still in the middle of forest surrounded by tall timbers. The bridge has been restored and is a remarkable example of early bush ingenuity.
You can also look up at one of Victoria's largest trees. The Ada Tree is a giant mountain ash. It is 270 years old, and about 76 metres tall with a circumference of 15 metres. Yarra State Forest, Noojee
Source: Ada tree from Visit Victoria
Or you could visit some waterfalls. A pleasant walk is the 3km circular track through the Toorongo Falls Reserve that take you to the viewing platforms for Toorongo and Amphitheatre Falls. It is mesmerising to look up at the towering mountain ash forest, and the cascading waters.
Another pleasant wander is through Janalli Gardens a long spit of land going out into Tarago Lake with 10 acres of gardens and a Bed & Breakfast known as Janalli
285 Wagners Rd, Neerim South
There are quite a few active pursuits. If you enjoy walking or cycling a path winds its way from Rokeby to Neerim. You pass through bushland and agricultural areas and there are some stunning views. Or on Latrobe River Road east of Neerim South, the Latrobe Trail Bike Visitor Area is the hub for a network of forest roads and tracks which are ideal for trail bike riding.
You can also ride through the State Forest on horseback. Riding areas open to the public are the Neerim East State Forest, The Bunyip State Park, the Rokeby-Crossover Rail Trail and Tarago State Forest.
Or if you like to fish for brown and rainbow trout this is the place. The key waterways are the upper Bunyip, Tarago (below the Tarago Reservoir), Latrobe, Toorongo, Loch and Tanjil Rivers. A common size if 400-600 but it is not unusual to come across bigger specimens over 1 kilogram. Or for a quicker fix, especially if you have kids who are less patient with waiting for the fish to bite, you can go fishing at the Alpine Trout Farm, then make use of the on-site BBQs to cook up your fresh catch or purchase smoked trout
115 Yarra Junction - Noojee Rd, Noojee VIC 3831
There are plenty of great places to eat. Celeste who opened Jindivick Harvest Kitchen is a passionate foodie. You can go for brunch or lunch. During winter you can sit near the fire and enjoy the weekend papers or take in the stunning views as you enjoy 5 Senses coffee. The truffle and thyme-infused scrambled eggs on local sourdough received a mention in the The Age Good Food Guide and there's also a well-stocked provedore with lots of local cheeses
1070 Jacksons Track, Jindivick
Source: Outpost Retreat
Another lunch option is at an iconic Aussie pub. The Toolshed Bar is famous for its atmospheric corrugated iron bar, massive open fire place and beer gardens. There is lot of interesting paraphernalia hanging from the walls much of it a tribute to the history of Noojee. This is the place for hearty meals. There is a menu board listing 12 parmas, the famous billy burger and lamb pot roast amongst other solid fare.
38 Loch Valley Rd, Noojee
Piedmont Wines is a family owned boutique winery with styles including shiraz, merlot, sparkling pearl, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay grapes.
Yarra Junction - Noojee Rd, Noojee
You can also go for coffee and cake at Tthe Serigraph Gallery where you can also see lots of local
painting, printmaking, photography, glassware, ceramics, jewellery, furniture, and weaving.
Open: 10:30am to 4:30pm Friday through Sunday and most public Holidays.157-161 Main Neerim Rd. Neerim South