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Gippsland is a large, rural region of Victoria, between Melbourne and the border with New South Wales. The region is scenically splendid and a popular getaway from the city of Melbourne, with lakes, forests, dramatic coastline and historic towns to lure travellers. Gippsland is the place to head for an experience of Victoria's unspoiled wilderness areas, perfect for a peaceful and invigorating break from the urban attractions of cosmopolitan Melbourne. It is also gourmet country, filled with cheese-makers, wineries, fruit farms and markets. There are more than 100 vineyards and about 40 wineries in the region, providing a wealth of fine wine to sample in-between adventurous activities.
Phillip Island, just offshore, offers the chance to experience being up close and personal with a variety of wildlife, including fairy penguins, fur seals and koala bears. The island also has several outstanding dive sites, and is surrounded by some of the best surfing and swimming beaches in Victoria.
Visitors to Gippsland stay in the small alpine towns and seaside villages of the region. Popular travel bases include Walhalla, Port Albert, Mt Baw Baw, Paynesville, Metung and Mallacoota.
Agnes Falls, at 194ft (59m), are the highest single span waterfalls in Victoria. The falls are situated 100 miles (160km) southeast of Melbourne, near Toora on the South Gippsland Highway. The Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve protects a small remnant of the forests that once covered the Stzrelecki Ranges. The canopy of eucalyptus provides food and nesting areas for a variety of birds, including the laughing Kookaburra and a range of honeyeaters. All plants and animals in the reserve are protected, and camping is not permitted; however, taking along a picnic is a wonderful idea as there is a picturesque picnic site on the banks of the Agnes River. There are designated walking trails which allow visitors to take in the beautiful landscapes and the best of the falls.
At Cowes, racing enthusiasts enjoy visiting the Phillip Island Circuit, originally opened in 1956, which annually hosts two international motorcycle events, the Superbike World Championship and the Qantas Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The Circuit has a Visitor Centre, which includes informative displays on the history of motor sport on Phillip Island, a circuit viewing area, a café, water gardens and wildlife enclosures. Guided walking tours take visitors to off-limits areas around the track, including the winner's podium, the pit lane and the control tower. Visitors may also experience an adrenaline-pumping triple lap ride with an experienced racing driver in the HSV Hot Laps.
The Promontory (known as 'the Prom') once linked Tasmania to the mainland. It has been a reserved area since 1898, with its 80 miles (130km) of coastline framed by vast granite masses, mountains, forests and fern gullies. The focus for tourism and recreation is at Tidal River, about 19 miles (30km) inside the park boundary, where visitors enjoy the sandy beach at Norman Bay, and Squeaky Beach with its pure white quartz sand. It is possible to walk up Mt Oberon or take 'the Prom Lighthouse Trek' with a ranger along the southern section of the park. The north of the park, including Barry Creek, is a wilderness area which remains remarkably untouched by humankind and can only be accessed on foot. Hikers wanting a true wilderness experience can stay overnight in this area, but there are no amenities and everything needed must be carried in.
As suggested by the pun in its name, A Maze 'N Things is a theme park that specialises in mazes, tricks, puzzles, optical illusions and other ludic delights. The great strength of the establishment is that its exhibitions are aimed primarily at adults, and are of a high-enough quality to provide hours of entertainment to even the most jaded of theme park patrons. Truly discombobulating, the park's attractions are separated into four main sections: the Maze, a labyrinth of twisting, dead-ending passageways; Maxi Golf, a 19-hole putt-putt course that will bring even experienced golfers to their knees; Puzzle Island, an interactive area of challenges and illusions, including the Rotating Room and the 6.5-metre slide; and the pick of the bunch, the Illusions Rooms, where visitors will disbelieve their eyes, as they watch water flow uphill, watch themselves shrink, defy gravity, and even disappear. A Maze 'N Things is one of those rare places where everyone in the family - from grandfather to grandson - is pretty much guaranteed to have a great time, and is a highly recommend tourist attraction for family vacationers in Victoria.
Gippsland's main attractions are natural, with splendid national parks and unspoilt wilderness areas including Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve, Wilson's Promontory National Park, Tarra-Bulga National Park, Croajingolong National Park, Baw Baw National Park, Snowy River National Park, and many, many more. These pristine areas provide an impressive variety of landscapes, including mountains, forests and some beautiful stretches of coastline, and there are many rewarding walking trails for keen hikers. The region also boasts some marine reserves and pretty islands, as well as some great scuba diving sites.
Other popular attractions in Gippsland include Walhalla, a historic gold mining town where visitors can take underground tours of the mines; the magnificent Buchan Caves, located in the town of the same name; Port Albert, Gippsland's oldest port; the exciting animals to be found on Phillip Island and at a number of other animal sanctuaries in the region; and the weird and wonderful A Maze 'N Things theme park, which provides a fun break from outdoor activities.
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