The team behind Victorian regional travel project One Hour Out share some of their favorite things to do on foot across the state.
Located between Benalla and Wangaratta on Yorta Yorta country, Winton wetlands is a place that shares stories from the past, present and even the future.
One of the largest restoration projects in the southern hemisphere, the wetlands collaborators are on a mission to renew the sanctuary’s ecology and increase its natural, scientific, cultural and environmental significance. There is a great emphasis on education here.
Due to the vastness of the area, it is easy to spend a day here and your first stop should be the welcome trail with information on the wetlands, local flora and fauna and historical stories.
Lotjpatj Natjan Danak’s sculptural trail is not to be missed. Works created by 15 Yorta Yorta artists can be seen on the road, reflecting their living culture. Interacting with their stories through art is quite deep.
The abundant wildlife here also makes it very special, and you will see free-roaming kangaroos, lizards and various birds.
You can choose to stay here for the day but we recommend you pack your camping gear and bikes and set up base for a few nights or more. Stargaze in the clear, unobstructed northeast skies, wake up to the sound of birdsong, see the Australian bush, take a sunrise stroll on one of a series of walking tracks, or sit back and relax.
– Dellaram Vreeland
Diamond Bay is one of those places that the locals would rather keep a secret – so our sincere apologies to the people of Sorrento.
This sheltered bay is located three blocks west of the main road that runs from Sorrento to Blairgowrie and the view from the wooden deck is spectacular, especially at sunset.
From there a staircase takes you down to the caramel sand, which then stretches out to meet the sparkling turquoise water. The sandstone cliffs surrounding the bay are reminiscent of the small bays along the Great Ocean Road with a sand layer composition ranging from light blonde to horse.
As the bay is protected by two rocky outcrops, this is one of the quieter spots on the seaward side of the Ballymornan Peninsula and a relatively safe place for swimming.
Diamond Bay is part of the coastal walk that crosses the 30km of cliff tops and tea tree covered beaches along the Bass Strait from the Cape Schanck Lighthouse to Point Nepean national park. If time is not on your side, then heading east along the coast from Diamond Bay will take you to St Paul’s theater and the view across a collection of small rocky outcrops known as the Bay of Islands. If you take the western track along the cliff tops, you will connect with the Coppins Track with great views of Sorrento as the sun sets.
Be sure to stick to the beach and designated paths, as the area is covered by extensive vegetation and some medians are fragile.
If you decide on the coastal walk towards Rinn Schanck, the truly adventurous can join the Two Bays walking track to cross the peninsula to Dromana. This 26km track will take you through lush green fern gullies, the eucalypt forests of Greens Bush and climb to a height of almost 300m above sea level as you cross Arthurs Seat.
The temptation is then to join the 28km bay trail all the way back to Sorrento to complete the final 100km walking tour of the Ballymornan Peninsula.
– Jay Dillon
Yeddonba Aboriginal cultural site
Thylacines roamed Australia for 30 million years. Around 4,000 years ago their numbers on the mainland began to dwindle as the number of dingoes increased. By 2,000 years ago the thylacine had become extinct on the mainland; and when the Europeans came they called them the Tasmanian tiger. The last Tasmanian tiger died alone in Hobart zoo in the 1930s. But an ocher image of a thylacine can be seen on the wall of a rock bar at the foot of Mount Pilot. An ancestor of the local Dhudhuroa people painted it when these striped marsupials were hunting small prey in the box forest in the granite hills around Beechworth today. You can see this amazing image, although faded with age, as well as what appears to be a gona scaling a tree at the Yeddonba Aboriginal cultural site.
Although the images are linear illustrations, the artist has captured some of the movement and character of the tylocin and the gannets.
You can find the site on Yeddonba Road, off Toveys Road, off Beechworth-Chiltern Road, in north-east Victoria. There is a short self-guided walk through the box forest to the site where a path leads to the ancient art. It is a site that is sacred not only to the people of Dhudhuroa but also to other local clans who would gather for ceremonies now known as Mount Pilot.
– Richard Cornish
Australian Botanic Gardens
If you are a nature lover, environmentally conscious, recycler, re-user, or just in love with anything related to sustainability, you will be interested in a botanical garden built entirely on top of a landfill site.
You read that correctly. A herb garden, set across a 25 hectare landfill site and not a rose garden in sight.
Through community participation the master plan for the site included themed gardens that restore the land and draw on the cultural, historical and environmental characteristics of the Goulburn Valley. The infrastructure works included reshaping the floodway into feeding wetlands that are flooded annually by the nearby Goulburn and Broken rivers.
Honeysuckle Rise takes in a panoramic view of the Shepparton area and we recommend avoiding the heat of the day to visit, and take in the view across the city at sunrise or sunset. There are a range of cycling and walking paths to explore, from the river paths to the Falls Trail. They are all accessible and vary in length.
A new section is being developed dedicated to the land management practices of the Yorta Yorta people prior to European settlement and will be rolled out to represent the four sub-regions of the Goulburn Valley.
The landscape is still a work in progress but how often do you see the beginning of something so significant?
– Jay Dillon
Budj Bim cultural landscape
Recognized by Unesco in 2019, more than 6,000 years old and just a 40-minute drive from Port Fairy and near Heywood, the cultural landscape of Budj Bim is what remains of a vast series of stone villages built on the edge of a complex system of channels water. and weirs by the Gunditjmara people from about 4,000 BC. until the colonization. The water system was built around a large body of water, called Lake Condah by settlers, to catch kooyang or the southern short-finned eel. The lake was drained in the mid 20th century.
In 2022, after many years of planning and working with the local community, the people of Gunditjmara opened their sacred landscape to visitors.
The Gunditjmara locals have carefully and quietly nurtured this huge rugged place and the lake has been drained back to close to its original levels.
In 2022, after many years of planning and working with the local community, the people of Gunditjmara opened their sacred landscape to visitors. The $2ma visitor center complex has a cafe and interpretive area facilities that will allow local Gunditjmara people to harvest, process and smoke eels, but now in a state-of-the-art facility. Open Wednesday to Sunday, it overlooks the lake and offers visitors the chance to taste real smoked shortfin eel in delicious ways.
The two hour tours are a real eye opener – you are taken from the visitor information center to the beginning of the lava flows that created Loch Condah and told some of the stories around the area. We learned that Budj Bim erupted about 27,000 years ago, spewing red-hot lava for scores of kilometers and creating Lake Condah.
A stone ax found underground by archaeologists under a lava flow suggests that this area was inhabited since before the eruption. The people of Gunditjmara are telling the story of the eruption 37,000 years later, probably the oldest story still being told on the planet.
The half-day tour includes these stories and allows plenty of time to enter this maze-like structure of reservoirs, canals and ancient village sites. He took us to a smoking tree, a hollowed manna gum under which scientists detected amounts of eel fat, rendered from eels and smoked to preserve them for trade. The trip is also known as a old fort and dam where kooyang was caught and kept.
The full day tour immerses you in the cultural perspective of Gunditjmara. You visit a volcano that has been hollowed out by a blast and is now filled by a deep crater lake. When the guides take you to visit their weirs, stone huts and the site of the celestial calendar and share tea and a delicious morning lunch – eel included – you begin to see the world through the eyes of the Gunditjmara people. It’s just the story of the eels.
– Richard Cornish