GIPPSLAND: Victoria’s Dark Horse

When Tamsin Carvan (of Tamsin’s Table) moved to Gippsland from the Blue Mountains in New South Wales 13 years ago, her motto for the region was: ‘Just a little bit crap.’ “You’d order a coffee or something and it would look good, but then it wouldn’t quite hit the mark,” she says.

Back then, Gippsland wasn’t the food and wine destination it is now. There was agriculture, of course; mostly dairy, although that was industry rather than tourism. But what it did have – and continues to have – is a unique climate. Higher than average rainfall, consistent humidity, cool nights with mild-to-warm days and beautiful, fertile soils.

“The first time I came, it was September and everything was glowing green. I literally pulled over on the side of Main South Road and I could not stop crying. The physical effect of the green and the lush and everything was too incredible,” Carvan says.

Gippsland is a bit of a hidden secret. The region is full of families who’ve been there for five or six generations, and land has, historically, been tightly held. But that’s starting to change. “Over the past decade, people have moved out here because they want to do or produce something amazing,” says Carvan. “There’s a genuine, grassroots movement literally from the earth up; they’ve come here for the soil, or a particular micro-climate, or the rainfall.

“As a result, you’ve got a lot of producers, wine and food in particular, that are doing very good things because they’ve come here specifically to do that very good thing.”

Some are newcomers to the region, but many – like winemaker William Downie – are returning home. For Downie, it was never an option to grow grapes anywhere but Gippsland, so it was only when he returned that he felt he could finally get started on his winemaking career, despite working as a winemaker for 15 years prior.

Marcus Satchell, another Gippsland native, has been making wine in Gippsland for years under the label Dirty Three Wines. A year ago he opened the Tasting Room which was almost immediately named Best Cellar Door in Gippsland by Gourmet Traveller Wine – the first time the magazine has even recognised Gippsland as a wine region.

Gippsland is a big place, extending from the outer edges of Melbourne’s easternmost suburbs to the border of New South Wales, and that’s likely part of why it’s remained less discovered than other Victorian regions. The sheer scale of it is overwhelming, and visitors have historically associated the region with its natural attractions, such as Wilson’s Prom, which makes it feel further away than it is.

But, the gateway to Gippsland is barely an hour out of Melbourne’s CBD. There’s beautiful accommodation options if you want to spend a night or two. And because everyone – both those newly arrived and those who have returned home – are there with intent, there’s a real sense that something special is happening,

“Everyone is doing their single-minded thing, but still being so convivial and friendly and sharing,” says Carvan. “All of us give zero shits about being cool or being this or that. We’re just doing what we think is good. It’s that simple.”

A WINE & FOOD GUIDE TO GIPPSLAND

There is no shortage of incredible wine and food and experiences in Gippsland. Below are just a handful of our favourites. Is your favourite missing from the list? Tell us!