Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published August 20th 2021
Marvellous Meeniyan's Magical Appeal
What a wonderful surprise Meeniyan was when we visited earlier this year. I could not have imagined it had so much to see and the food, that speaks for itself. Meeniyan dates back to the 1890s, when it was just a station and a lonely post office on the South Gippsland railway line. The railway station operated until the closure of the Barry Beach line, which serviced the Bass Strait oil fields. Today, it is a charming town with a strong arts culture, a beautiful streetscape and a welcoming population. It is close enough for a day trip from Melbourne and good enough for a weekend getaway.
1. The Outer Space–Sculpture Gallery. The array of sculptures visible through the cyclone fence immediately caught our attention. Then there was no getting past the bright red, oversized wire bunny riding a scooter on the path out the front. The Outer Space showcases the very interesting and artistic 3D pieces of talented Australian artists. The array of sculptures is inspiring. They range through floral wall hangings, life-size animals, birdbaths, bird feeders, water features, native birds, giant insects and so much more. The galley is open from 10am to 3pm Sunday to Wednesday and from 10am to 4pm on Friday and Saturday. You will find the Outer Space at 140B Whitelaw St, Meeniyan. They can be contacted on 0427 007 033 or visit their website.
2. Meeniyan Art Gallery. The Meeniyan Art Gallery, MAG, has three separate exhibition spaces, each with an abundance of room for public viewing and exhibitions are regularly changed. You can check their website to find out what's on show now. When we visited, I was blown away by large coloured pencil pieces of fruit and vegetables which demonstrated a level of skill that was truly amazing. There is also a well-stocked gallery shop. The gallery is open from 10am to 4pm, Wednesday to Monday, at 84 Whitelaw Street, Meeniyan. They can be contacted on (03) 5664 0101 or via their website. The gallery has a winter shut down in August.
3. Painted Footpaths. Many towns are known for their wall murals but in Meeniyan, it was on the footpaths that we found the street artwork. This diverse collection of paintings appeared on both sides of Whitelaw Street with a generous number under the verandah at the Meeniyan Art Gallery. Among the paintings were a truck, a boy patting a dog, some outer space renderings, and a kangaroo in the back of a ute. Under the gallery verandah, was a baby in a bucket and men with their heads buried in the ground.
4. The Businesses are Arty Too. The town's businesses have got into the arty spirit as well. At Brownwigg Rural and Agricultural Supplies, you will find a mural of a chook on top of a cow. At the IGA, an old penny-farthing bicycle hangs from the roof of the verandah.
There are a number of choices for a bite to eat. Choose from cafés, a bakery, restaurants or the hotel.
5. Bread and Pickles. When we hit town around morning tea time, our first port of call was the Bread and Pickles café. In addition to their award-winning slow-cooked pies, they serve cakes, slices and cookies; wraps, rolls and sandwiches; coffee, ice-coffee and milkshakes, and chocolates. Bread and Pickles is open from 6am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturday. The café is at 107 Whitelaw Street, Meeniyan. They can be contacted on (03) 5664 7232, and you can visit their website.
6. Moo's at Meeniyan. Moo's at Meeniyan offers scrumptious food both dine-in and takeaway and has both indoor and outdoor under-verandah seating. The street-corner exterior, which has an old-world charm, belies the luxury within. The menu presents three pages of delectable delights from old favourites to exotic dishes. Why not try the 'Roasted duck Maryland' or 'Thai red chickpea coconut curry with preserved lemon natural yoghurt and cumin-scented rice.' They also have a children's menu, affectionately referred to as 'Mini Moos' and a 'Small Plates from Around the World' section. Moo's is open 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Thursday, and on Friday and Saturday from 5pm. Moo's is at 89 Whitelaw St, Meeniyan. They can be contacted on (03) 5664 0010 and you can visit their website, where you can view their menu.
7. Trulli. Trulli describes themselves as 'An Italian take on Gippsland produce.' Trulli is proud to source 90% of their set menu from local producers within two hours of Meeniyan. The restaurant offers a la carte and six different tasting menus. The Gelateria serves gelati and sorbet along with bakehouse cakes and desserts. The restaurant is open from 12pm to 4pm and from 5.30pm to late, Thursday to Saturday and 12pm to 4pm on Sunday. The Gelateria, next door to the restaurant, is open from 12pm to late, Thursday to Sunday. You will find Trulli at 93 Whitelaw St, Meeniyan. They can be contacted on (03) 5664 7397 and you can visit their website.
8. Meeniyan Hotel. Meeniyan Hotel was our choice for lunch when we visited. This place has been around since the 1930s and has a lot of photographic history on the walls. The staff weren't just friendly, they were 'bubbly' and the 'pub' meals so generous you'll have to pace yourself. The hotel is open for dine-in and takeaway seven days a week. Lunch is available from 12pm to 2:30pm Monday to Friday, and 12pm to 3pm Saturday and Sunday. Dinner is available from 5:30pm to 8:30pm Sunday to Thursday, and 5:30 pm to 9pm Friday and Saturday. The hotel is at 117 Whitelaw St, Meeniyan. They can be contacted on (03) 5664 7203 and you can visit their website, where you can click through to the menu.
9. Picnic Tables. If you're heading to Meeniyan with a big family in tow and you're watching the budget, there are a number of areas with picnic tables.
At Tanderra Park at 142 Whitelaw St, Meeniyan (Opposite the Outer Space sculpture gallery), there are public BBQs and a large open-air picnic table with seats on all four sides. There is also a picnic table and under-cover seating in a rotunda on another of the lawns, and plenty of grassed areas.
A park-like median strip runs the length of Whitelaw St. There are picnic tables in the shade of trees and plenty of grass to throw down a picnic rug.
At the back of Tanderra Park, across the little stone bridge, and adjacent to the South Gippsland Rail Trail in the Community Garden, there is another table and more seating.
Parks and Gardens
10. Rose Gardens. Next door to the Meeniyan Hall and in front of the public toilets in Whitelaw Street, are rose gardens of considerable size. It is a wonderful thing to see when the flowers are in bloom as the colours are many and varied. I left with a great many photos of these magnificent blooms.
11. Centre Strip Tables Shade Cenotaph. The green median strip in the centre of Meeniyan's shopping and business district is a beautiful rest area. It contains flower gardens, picnic tables and lawns under shady trees, the cenotaph and the war memorial. Amongst the mature trees are Dutch elms and ash but mostly flowering gums planted by the town's school children in 1919. When in bloom, the flower gardens present a vibrantly colourful display. Featured next to the cenotaph, commemorating those who fought for peace, is a military gun.
12. Tanderra Park and Rotunda. Tanderra Park at 142 Whitelaw Street is a lovely spot to rest in the shade in the rotunda or beneath the trees, or to have a picnic or BBQ. See more details about that in the 'Cafes and Eateries' section of this article. It also provides entrance, across a quaint bluestone bridge, to the amazing and unusual community garden, itself a tourist attraction, and through that to the Great Southern Rail Trail.
13. Community Garden. The Meeniyan Community Garden has to be seen to be believed. Never have I come across so many scarecrows in one place and such funny ones as that! There were the traditional scarecrows in the garden beds, then there was one riding a bike, one pushing an antique mower, and another with its head buried in the dirt and its feet clad in red gumboots pointed skywards. There was a wheelbarrow with gumboots on its handles, pumpkins winding around an old bike, and a huge domed sculpture made from bicycle wheels. The day we visited, the vegetables and fruit were putting on a lovely floral display, sunflowers were in bloom, and bees, butterflies and other insects were thriving. There are also seats and even a picnic table here.
14. Meeniyan Bird Hide Walk. The Bird Hide is a recent addition to Meeniyan, having only been opened in May 2021. It is at the Meeniyan Wastewater Treatment Plant wetlands, which is a series of lagoons off the Great Southern Rail, just East of Meeniyan towards Stony Creek. There are seating benches in the hide and information boards about the birds and the water processing using the treatment lagoons. Click here for more details.
The Meeniyan Bird hide - Image from South Gippsland Water Facebook Page
15. South Gippsland Trail. The rail trail in Meeniyan is part of the 72-kilometre Great Southern Rail Trail, which runs between Leongatha and Port Welshpool through Koonwarra, Meeniyan, Fish Creek, Foster, Toora and Welshpool. It is a shared trail for walkers, cyclists and horse riders with a slightly undulating gravel surface and is rated at an easy to medium level of difficulty. Dogs on leash are permitted on the trail. My husband and I walked a small section of this trail behind the town and enjoyed a pleasant stroll where we saw kookaburras and eastern rosellas. Click here for a map and details of the different sections of the trail.
Meeniyan is around 150 kilometres (about 2 hour's drive) from the Melbourne CBD along the South Gippsland Highway. From the South-Eastern suburbs, it is around 100 kilometres or just over an hour's drive.
Meeniyan offers free Wi-Fi within the confines of the town. Click here for a map and more details. Mobile phone charging is available at Tanderra Park and in the Public Toilets at the Meeniyan Hall on the South Gippsland Highway.
Where:Meeniyan is around 150 kilometres (about 2 hour’s drive) from the Melbourne CBD along the South Gippsland Highway. From the South-Eastern suburbs it is around 100 kilometres or just over an hour’s drive
Cost:Having a look is free, only pay for food and accommodation.
Thank you so much for showing me some of the most delightful, "my taste" sculptures! I love it.
Can't wait for Lockdown to end so I can go to Meeniyan and see, enjoy, and purchase, these beautiful creations! Excited!!