Gayle is a retired accountant and a photography enthusiast living on Victoria's beautiful Bass Coast. Gayle is passionate about writing and keen to showcase Aussie culture to a global audience. Gayle loves her family, dogs, sunsets, and chocolate.
Published February 4th 2020
Central Gippsland is Open for Business
When my husband and I announced we were off for a week's holiday in Sale, we received more than one questioning glance. What could we possibly spend a week doing in Sale? Indeed, you would be surprised. Our time was fully occupied with cars, boats, planes, art galleries, nature and wildlife, walks, lakes, rivers, heritage buildings, gemstones and good food.
Free from the destruction of the January 2020 bushfires, this area remains open for business. It has however, felt the impact of a drop in visitor numbers. Don't shy away from Gippsland. Local businesses need your patronage. They will welcome you with open arms and reward you with a plethora of things to see and do. Suitable for a family holiday or a grey nomad interlude, Central Gippsland is calling.
John Brady Wood Sculpture Gallery
John Brady is a chainsaw artist who has competed internationally. His skill is well-represented at his gallery just outside Sale. You may have seen some of John's sculptures without even realising it. Perhaps you have seen the Avenue of Honour war memorial sculptures at Lakes Entrance or the Sir John Monash war memorial at Caulfield RSL.
You will be introduced to John's sculptures as you enter the carpark. Horses and their riders, children, an axeman and more are scattered about the yard. Inside, marvel at many more life-size works. When we visited we saw Crocodile Dundee complete with crocodile, Don Bradman, Slim Dusty, some swagman, and a traditional aboriginal man.
A video showing John at work and telling the story of some of his sculptures plays on a loop. It was a cold day when we visited. We welcomed the g wood fire and the coffees and biscuits we bought at the coffee bar. The day we visited John was in attendance at this gallery and we were lucky to have been able to chat about his works and experiences.
There is a gift shop with works from a variety of local artists. In addition to wooden furniture, paintings and classy craft works and handmade chocolates are available for sale.
Where: 4176 Princes Highway, Fulham When: Sat & Sun and some public holidays 9.30 to 4.30pm Telephone: 0409 187 590 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website:https://johnbradywoodsculpture.webs.com/ Cost: There is no entry fee to the gallery.
Gippsland Armed Forces Museum
Tucked away at the West Sale Airport is the national treasure that is the Gippsland Armed Forces Museum. Don't be misled by the location at an airport, this museum represents all arms of the defence forces; air force, navy and army all have their space here.
Your journey begins in the carpark where some aircraft are on display. Inside volunteers will direct you through the various rooms and warehouses jam-packed with displays. Even the corridors have been put to good use, their walls lined with photographs, documents and strategically placed display cases.
In the largest area to the right of the entry parachutes and camouflage netting hang from the roof. The machinery of war sits here; trucks, large towering guns, parts of aircraft, motors, and communications equipment. Ammunition of all shapes and sizes sits alongside helmets of surprising variety, uniforms spanning decades, medals, knives, ration books, wartime posters and newspaper reports. There is too much to describe. Throughout the display cases, amongst the memorabilia models are used to complete the story. Pieces of aircraft, of gun bays, of the workings of these planes. Then there models, cases of them, all manner of aircraft, built by these passionate about our history.
Move through this expansive area slowly. There is much to take in. When you have done wander into the workshop at the back where volunteers contribute untold hours restoring equipment to preserve our heritage.
A corridor displays the photos of young men lost in service. It is hard not to shed a tear as you look upon the young fresh faces of lives taken too soon.
Step from there into rooms displaying air force and navy memorabilia. View the complex suits of pilots, see the mechanism of an ejection seat, and check out the intricacy of jet engines whose casing has been stripped away. Read the story of the Roulettes, Australia's aerobatic team. Photos and models complement the story.
When: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, 10am till 4pm Where: Lyons Crescent, West Sale Airport, Princes Highway, Fulham VIC 3851. Once you are in Lyons Crescent follow the signs. Telephone: (03) 5144 5500 Email: email@example.com Website:www.gippslandarmedforcesmuseum.com Cost: $4 adults, $1 children
Historic Swing Bridge
Built between 1880 and 1883, the Sale Swing Bridge is the oldest surviving intact swing bridge in Australia and is classified by the National Trust. It sits at the junction of the Thompson and LaTrobe Rivers and was built to facilitate shipping along the canal leading to the Port of Sale. Originally designed to carry road traffic, the bridge is now only accessible to pedestrians. The bridge pivots from a wheeled track in its centre turning 90 degrees to allow taller boats to pass through.
The bridge is opened for tourists a couple of times a week and it is a spectacle not to be missed. The surrounding landscape, the river, parkland, bushland and rural paddocks add to the beauty of the scenic vista. If you are not in town when the bridge is opened, don't be deterred. It is nonetheless worth the short trip to have a look.
An information-board on the banks of the river recounts the history of the bridge. For those who want a bit more detail an information leaflet can be obtained from the Sale Visitor Information Centre. Additional information can also be viewed on the Victorian Heritage Database.https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/1012
When: The Bridge can be viewed at any time but is operated for tourists to see it in action on Sundays and on one Wednesday each month. It is advisable to check days and times with the Sale Visitor Information Centre. The bridge opens at 3pm and closes 4pm. It is suggested you arrive between 15 and 30 minutes early. Where: Around five kilometres from Sale towards Longford along Swing Bridge Drive off the South Gippsland Highway. Telephone: The Sale Visitor Information Centre 1300 368 864 (70 Foster Street, Sale) Cost: There is no charge to view the bridge.
Rubeena Eco Boat Trip
If you were to ask me, 'What's the most relaxing thing you can do in Sale?' I would most certainly direct you to the heritage cruise. This one and a half hour cruise along the Sale Canal and Thompson River is taken aboard the Rubeena, a heritage wooden boat first launched in 1912. She is a quiet and slow boat, she accords plenty of time for you to observe and soak up the beauty of this waterway.
Your Captain, Alan, is has a wealth of knowledge about the area and its history. He will tell you stories of times gone by, point out historic items and areas and alert you to beautiful birds you might otherwise miss. On our trip Alan pointed out some Nankeen night herons high in the tree tops. Pelicans took flight from the river ahead of us and I snapped some wonderful photos of a whistling kite perched high above. We scanned the usual haunts of the tiny and beautiful azure kingfishers.
You will see the historic swing bridge from the water, undoubtedly the best vantage point, before turning for the return journey. On this trip, you leave the hubbub of modern life behind for a quieter, calmer time.
When: Daily departures: 10am & 2pm for 1 ˝ hours Where: At the Port of Sale, Canal Rd, Sale. Telephone: Bookings: 0400 933 112 Website:www.saleheritagecruises.com.au/ Cost: (2019) Adults $20, Children (Under 15) $15, Family (2 adults, 3 children) $80
Sale Commons State Game Refuge
The RAMSAR Sale Common State Game Refuge and Wetlands is internationally renowned. It has a boardwalk and a number of walking tracks. This 300 hectare site is predominantly marsh wetlands but also features gum woodland and grasslands.
The boardwalk is the most user friendly route if you don't want to hike. Longer grass walking tracks, including the Flooding Creek trail can also be traversed. We did a bit of each and witnessed whistling kites and black-shouldered kites soaring overhead. Visit the website for details of entrance points and parking. A map of the Common and trails can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centre.
The Sale Botanic Gardens. The Sale Botanic Gardens date back 150 years. They occupy just over five hectares on the banks of Lake Gutheridge. These well established and beautiful gardens feature grassed areas, paved walking areas, a playground, undercover picnic areas, sculptures, a fauna enclosure, a sensory garden, and an elm forest. There were a number of peacocks lounging about the days we visited and native bird life is abundant in the trees.
The Lakes Precinct. Sale has with not one but two lakes, Lake Gutheridge and Lake Guyatt which lay side by side. Together they form the 27 hectare Lakes Precinct, adjoining the Botanic Gardens. We walked around the lakes and into the gardens on well-made, easily traversed trails. Water birds were about in numbers; ducks, geese, black swans, waterfowl, swamp hens, pelicans, cormorants, darters and more. Native birds could be spotted everywhere. The nature spot is supplemented with sculptures and wood carvings. We were lucky to spot a Gippsland Water Dragon, a one metre long lizard that emerged from Lake Gutheridge. An island in the middle of the lake was populated by a colony of noisy flying foxes (bats.)
Where: Sale Botanic Gardens main entry is in Gutheridge Parade. Lake Gutheridge can be accessed from both Foster Street and Gutheridge Parade. Lake Guyatt can accessed via McIntosh Drive. Walking trails from any of the entrances traverse the entire precinct.
Sale, originally called Flooding Creek, was settled as early as 1844 so it's no surprise that there is an abundance of heritage buildings within the town. Call into the Visitor Information Centre at Port of Sale and pick up a Sale Heritage Walk Brochure. The walk covers 17 heritage points of interest. It is estimated to take an hour and a half. My husband and I found it to be a leisurely stroll.
If you want to fortify yourself before your walk or after, we can recommend the Dock 70 Café next to Visitor Information. Here you can enjoy your food and drink while overlooking the picturesque Port of Sale.
The walk includes St Mary's Cathedral built in 1887, an imposing and ornate structure with beautiful stained glass windows. The Cobb & Co Coaches stables built in 1888 are still here, although they have long since been repurposed. The Commonwealth Development Bank building constructed in 1880 is austere and fortress-like. See the AMP building, erected in 1930, with its impressive ornate columns. It was then claimed as the most notable addition to architecture in Sale.
When: The Walk - Daylight hours any day. The Visitor Information Centre 9am-5:30pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays. Where: Commence at the Port of Sale, 70 Foster Street, Sale. Collect a Sale Heritage Walk brochure from the Visitor Information Centre inside the building. Cost: This is a self-guided walk. There is no cost.
Sale Historical Museum
The Sale Museum is housed the old Council building which was erected in 1864 and is believed to be the oldest municipal building in Sale. The museum features changing exhibitions. It holds an extensive archive dating back to 1863, a collection of local memorabilia, local Honour Rolls, Sale Council records and items on local businesses, events and identities.
Image from Inspired by Central Gippsland Victoria Facebook Page
Sale is well known as the home of an RAAF base. This is an air force military base and training school, the home of the Roulettes aerobatic team. It has played a significant part in the fight against the East Gippsland bushfires. Entry to the base is not permitted but don't miss the aircraft on display to the public outside the gate.
There were two aircraft on display when we visited although it looked like there was space for a third. One of the planes is a Winjeel. Winjeels were manufactured from 1955 to 1975 and remained in service until 1994. The second plane is a Macchi. These planes first saw service in 1971 and remained in service until 2001. Information boards give detailed information about the planes.
Even if art is not your thing, the Gippsland Art Gallery is a must-stop on your Sale holiday. The gallery is ideally situated in the Wellington Centre in the Port of Sale building, next door to Dock 70 Café. Enter through the Sale Visitor Information Centre.
The Gallery was established in 1965 and opened here in 2018. It is fresh and new with six different exhibition spaces. This is publically accessible art. It is displayed with all the finesses of the best galleries but without ropes and barriers. We are not true art people but spent way more time than we imagined we would here. There is an inspiring austerity here which mingles almost magically with a sense of homeliness.
There is a mix of permanent and regularly changing exhibitions. Click her www.gippslandartgallery.com/exhibitions/ to find out what is currently being exhibited and click her www.gippslandartgallery.com/collection/ for details and photos from the permanent collection. If you see nothing else, take a look at the exhibition space set aside for the celebrated Sale-based textile artist Annemieke Mein OAM. Her work is quite something to behold. It is little wonder she invokes so much local pride.
When: Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.30pm, Saturday to Sunday 10.00am to 4.00pm, Public Holidays 10.00am to 4.00pm Where: 70 Foster Street, Sale, Victoria (in the Port of Sale building) Telephone: 03 5142 3500 Website:www.gippslandartgallery.com/ Cost: There is no fee to enter the gallery.
Gippsland Vehicle Collection
A short distance from sale is the quiet country town of Maffra. Here, the Gippsland Vehicle Collection beckons not only the car enthusiast but any tourist in search of something interesting to see. This museum, which is housed in a WWII building, has both permanent and rotating displays. The themed display is changed every four months. When we visited it was 'Bygone British Marques' and as I write this article the themed display is Cars that Changed the World.
The building was originally a vegetable dehydrating factory and is a space long and wide. Walk lengthy aisles lined with vehicles. Information boards identify the vehicles and in many cases provided some history. The walls are adorned with old number plates, tin signs from oil companies, posters and photos. The flag of nations and car manufacturers hang from the rafters.
A mock-up of an old mechanics garage is cluttered with old tools, spare parts, hub caps and old tyres. A pallet stacked with old oil cans takes pride of place at the back of the centre aisle. Oldies can reminisce and youngsters look on in awe at a display of over three and a half thousand model cars. It is recognised as one of the largest displays of its kind in Australia. It includes models of vintage and veteran cars, trucks and buses, fire engines, racing cars, most Australian vehicles and most models of the V8 Super Car series.
If vehicle magazines and books take your fancy you will be gob smacked at the collection here. Venture outside and in the grounds you will find the collections weary exhibits, old vehicles left to the ravages of time but nostalgic none the less. The museum holds a number of events throughout the year such as swap meets, new collection launches and machinery rallies. Check the website for an events calendar.
There are covered BBQ facilities on the grounds and a variety of eating places in town.
When: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, public holidays and every day during the school holidays. 10 am to 4.00 pm. (Closed Good Friday, ˝ day Anzac Day, and Christmas Day). Where: 1a Sale Rd, Maffra VIC 3860. Maffra is 19 kms from Sale along the Sale-Maffra Road with a drive time of around 17 minutes. Telephone: (03) 5147 3223 Cost: Adults $15, Concession $10, Children under 15 Free Website:https://www.gippslandvehiclecollection.org.au/
Make a day of it in Maffra. After you have visited the Gippsland Vehicle Collection and had a lovely lunch in town, stop by the Maffra Mineral Collection and Gemstone Museum. Housed in the old court house which was built in 1888 the museum and the Pino Deriu Gemstone and Mineral Collection, share their space with the Maffra Visitor Information Centre.
As you enter the building your eye will be drawn to the display cases lining the wall. These are only part of the collection. Go up the stairs beside the counter, cross the gallery and step down into a display room, affectionately called Pino's Cave. The displays include gemstones, crystals, fluorescent minerals and fossils from Australia and around the world.
Boisdale Boisdale is an enchanting small town north of Sale. Set in a picturesque rural landscape and steeped in a historyhttps://www.victorianplaces.com.au/boisdale dating back to 1842, it is a great place to stop for a short while and stretch your legs. Historic buildings in the town are marked with information plates and make a walk up and down the main street an interesting one.
Check out the Public Hall built in 1904, The Stables built in 1901 and donated to the community in 2007, an original workers cottage from around 1904 and the old general store building from 1907. The Boisdale Stables are the subject of a current community program to create a museum to horse drawn agriculture and a community workshop.
There is a small general store and a playground in the main street which includes a wooden sculpture of a horse.
Briagolong Briagolong is small and not on the normal tourist trail. This well-kept secret it has a surprise or two. There is of course a pub. The Briagolong Hotel is at 10 Forbes Street. They are open from 11am to 11pm and can be contacted on (03) 5145 5202.
We stopped by the Briagolong Art Gallery on the corner of Avon and Forbes Streets. As well as looking at the beautiful and interesting works of art we spent some time chatting with the volunteer on duty. This is an artist-run gallery with an adjoining shop which is open Saturdays and Sundays between 11 am and 4 pm or by appointment. They can be contacted on (03) 5145 5439.
Next to the art gallery is an old wares and antiques shop. We spent quite a while looking through the wide variety of items, much of which reminded me of my grandparent's home.
Getting There, Accommodation, Maps and Information
Getting There. Sale is 215kms and around 2 ˝ hour's drive from Melbourne's CBD along the Princes Highway.
Visitor Information Centre The well-resourced Visitor Information Centre is in the Port of Sale building at 70 Foster Street, Sale. The centre is open 9am-5:30pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays. They can be contacted by ringing 1300 368 864 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to their website https://www.portofsale.com.au/spaces/visit for more information. We found the staff here to be knowledgeable and very helpful and there is a wealth of brochures and maps to help you along. Additional information about the area and its wealth of small towns click on the Central Gippsland website. www.centralgippsland.com.au/
Website. For additional information about the area and its small and interesting towns click on the Central Gippsland website. www.centralgippsland.com.au/ The website details the towns in the area, accommodation options, things to do, events, maps and brochures.
Accommodation. Accommodation options in Sale can be viewed on the Central Gippsland website www.centralgippsland.com.au/accommodation/central/sale which also covers accommodation in the surrounding area. Enquiries can also be made at the Sale Visitor Information Centre on 1300 368 864. When we visited we stayed for 7 nights in a cabin at the Sale Motor Village.