Australia’s Gippsland region sees tourism interest surge of 400 percent after catastrophic bushfires

A sprawling rural region which stretches 1,685 kilometres from the outskirts of Melbourne to the state border of New South Wales is enjoying a remarkable surge of interest from tourists.

Large swathes of Gippsland in southeastern Victoria were decimated by catastrophic bushfires over the summer, but thanks to a string of domestic tourism campaigns encouraging Australians to holiday at home this year, interest is already up a staggering 400 percent across the fire-ravaged region.

The news is sure to be welcomed by Victorian tour operators, who reported a 90 percent drop in trade after Australia’s ‘angriest’ summer on record, which saw unprecedented infernos trap 4,000 tourists and residents on Mallacoota beach before being evacuated by the Australian Navy and left five people dead across the state.

But with so many of the country’s leading destinations including New South Wales’ Shoalhaven beaches and iconic Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia badly damaged in the blazes, what sets Gippsland and the rest of rural Victoria apart in a time of national need?

Domestic tourism campaigns have triggered a 400 percent increase in interest for the Gippsland region in rural Victoria, after catastrophic bushfires decimated the area over the summer

Domestic tourism campaigns have triggered a 400 percent increase in interest for the Gippsland region in rural Victoria, after catastrophic bushfires decimated the area over the summer

Domestic tourism campaigns have triggered a 400 percent increase in interest for the Gippsland region in rural Victoria, after catastrophic bushfires decimated the area over the summer

Animal lovers can enjoy a day to remember with a camel ride along the beach at Lakes Entrance, regarded as East Gippsland's 'most unique attraction'

Animal lovers can enjoy a day to remember with a camel ride along the beach at Lakes Entrance, regarded as East Gippsland's 'most unique attraction'

Get up close and personal with kangaroos during a visit to Wilsons Promontory National Park on the region's southeast coast

Get up close and personal with kangaroos during a visit to Wilsons Promontory National Park on the region's southeast coast

Gippsland boasts spectacular national parks, vast lakes, charming seaside towns and pristine white sand beaches, along with some of Australia’s most unique native wildlife

Must-see tourist attractions in Gippsland

1. Victoria State Coal Mine

2. Wilsons Promontory National Park

3. Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine

4. Squeaky Beach

5. Raymond Island

6. Walhalla Goldfields Railway

7. Mt Oberon Summit Walk

8. Buchan Caves

9. St Mary’s Catholic Church

10. Gippsland Lakes

Source: TripAdvisor

Roughly 200 kilometres away, Melbourne airport is the region’s closest transit hub which is served domestically by Jetstar, Qantas, Tiger and Virgin Australia airlines.

Gippsland boasts spectacular national parks, vast lakes, charming seaside towns and pristine white sand beaches, along with some of the finest wine, seafood and cheeses Victoria has to offer. 

A paradise for sunbathers and surfers alike, Ninety Mile Beach on the southeastern coast of East Gippsland is one of the longest and most beautiful stretches of sand in the world. 

World class waves crash along the coast of Squeaky Beach and Tidal River in South Gippsland, while Sandy Point near Wilsons Promontory National Park offers excellent swells for windsurfing. 

Stunning cycling trails take you through lush dairy country and past Victoria’s Great Dividing Range, the world’s longest land based mountain range which stretches for 3,500 kilometres.

Magnificent highways span the expansive region, with lengthy drives along the Great Alpine Road down to the Gippsland Lakes offering some of Australia’s most breathtaking views.

Historic villages, coal mines and railways which date back to the earliest days of the 1900s give an insight into what life was like in country Victoria more than a century ago.

Hailed as Gippsland’s number one tourist attraction, the state coal mine is the only historic mining experience in the Southern Hemisphere.

Beautiful landscapes like those on Phillip Island – a popular day trip destination from Melbourne – are home to unique native wildlife like Little Penguins, the world’s smallest species of penguin.

The tiny creatures come ashore in groups at sunset each night in a ‘Penguin Parade’ which is regularly named as one of Australia’s must-see attractions.

Animal lovers can enjoy a day to remember with a camel ride along the beach at Lakes Entrance, East Gippsland’s ‘most unique attraction’, or get up close and personal with kangaroos at Wilsons Promontory National Park.

Stunning cycling trails take you through lush dairy country and past Victoria's Great Dividing Range, the world's longest land based mountain range which stretches for 3,500 kilometres

Stunning cycling trails take you through lush dairy country and past Victoria's Great Dividing Range, the world's longest land based mountain range which stretches for 3,500 kilometres

Stunning cycling trails take you through lush dairy country and past Victoria’s Great Dividing Range, the world’s longest land based mountain range which stretches for 3,500 kilometres

World class waves crash along the coast of Squeaky Beach and Tidal River in South Gippsland, while Sandy Point near Wilsons Promontory National Park offers excellent swells for windsurfing

World class waves crash along the coast of Squeaky Beach and Tidal River in South Gippsland, while Sandy Point near Wilsons Promontory National Park offers excellent swells for windsurfing

Wildlife including adorable kangaroos and koalas can be spotted across the region

Wildlife including adorable kangaroos and koalas can be spotted across the region

World class waves crash along the coast of Squeaky Beach and Tidal River in South Gippsland, while Sandy Point near Wilsons Promontory National Park offers excellent swells for windsurfing 

Magnificent highways span the expansive region, with lengthy drives along the Great Alpine Road down to the Gippsland Lakes offering some of Australia's most breathtaking views

Magnificent highways span the expansive region, with lengthy drives along the Great Alpine Road down to the Gippsland Lakes offering some of Australia's most breathtaking views

Magnificent highways span the expansive region, with lengthy drives along the Great Alpine Road down to the Gippsland Lakes offering some of Australia’s most breathtaking views

A paradise for sunbathers and surfers alike, Ninety Mile Beach on the southeastern coast of East Gippsland us one of the longest and most beautiful stretches of sand in the world

A paradise for sunbathers and surfers alike, Ninety Mile Beach on the southeastern coast of East Gippsland us one of the longest and most beautiful stretches of sand in the world

A paradise for sunbathers and surfers alike, Ninety Mile Beach on the southeastern coast of East Gippsland us one of the longest and most beautiful stretches of sand in the world

How a holiday to Gippsland can help rebuild bushfire-affected communities

Get to know Gippsland with a three-night, four-day holiday package at Waverley House Cottages in Lakes Entrance for $500.

Book and stay before February 29, 2020 for three nights in a One Spa Cottage which comes with fully equipped kitchen, laundry, wood-fire stove, spa and veranda to take in the magnificent native garden and coastal views.

The cottages are the perfect base to explore the East Gippsland region, which is home to spectacular national parks including Buchan Caves and Cape Conran.

Ninety Mile Beach is just two-minutes drive away, and a host of award-winning seafood restaurants are also close by.

Source: Escape Australia

 

But despite the region’s myriad myriad of natural attractions, Gippsland’s sudden popularity can be largely attributed to targeted travel campaigns from some of the nation’s most prominent organisations.

In the wake of the unprecedented infernos, Tourism Australia put its Kylie Minogue-fronted ‘Philausophy’ international tourism campaign on hold and injected $20million into its ‘Holiday Here This Year’ programme to encourage Australians to vacation domestically in 2020.

Tourism Australia’s efforts were also bolstered by national airline Qantas, who offered considerable discounts on flights to 50 domestic destinations in its ‘Love Australia’ sale.

The Australian Open capitalised on its status as one of the world’s most-watched sporting events by pushing its ‘Australia’s Open’ campaign in January.

Grassroots movements like the social media campaign #EmptyEsky encourage Australians to visit fire-affected communities and stock up on local produce. 

Remembering Victorian victims of 2019/2020 bushfires

NOVEMBER 

David Moresi, 69, died after being involved in a traffic incident while working at the at the Gelantipy fire in East Gippsland on November 30.

NEW YEAR’S EVE FIRES

Beloved great-grandfather Mick Roberts, 67, from Buchan, in East Gippsland, was found dead at his home on the morning of New Year’s Day.

Fred Becker, 75, was the second person to die in Victoria. He suffered a heart attack while trying to defend his Maramingo Creek home.

JANUARY

Forest Fire Management firefighter Mat Kavanagh, 43, was killed Friday January 3 when he was involved in a two-car crash on the Goulburn Valley Highway.

Bill Slade, a 60-year-old father of two from Wonthaggi was fighting fires with Parks Victoria at Omeo when he died on January 11. He has been remembered as one of the longest serving, most experienced and fittest firefighters.  








In the wake of the unprecedented infernos, Tourism Australia injected $20million into its 'Holiday Here This Year' programme to encourage Australians to vacation domestically in 2020

In the wake of the unprecedented infernos, Tourism Australia injected $20million into its 'Holiday Here This Year' programme to encourage Australians to vacation domestically in 2020

In the wake of the unprecedented infernos, Tourism Australia injected $20million into its ‘Holiday Here This Year’ programme to encourage Australians to vacation domestically in 2020

Tourism Australia managing director Philippa Harrison said the 'Holiday Here This Year' campaign would send a message that Australia is open for business and ready to embrace visitors with open arms

Tourism Australia managing director Philippa Harrison said the 'Holiday Here This Year' campaign would send a message that Australia is open for business and ready to embrace visitors with open arms

Tourism Australia managing director Philippa Harrison said the ‘Holiday Here This Year’ campaign would send a message that Australia is open for business and ready to embrace visitors with open arms

Tourism Australia's efforts were bolstered by national airline Qantas, who offered considerable discounts on flights to 50 domestic destinations in its 'Love Australia' sale

Tourism Australia's efforts were bolstered by national airline Qantas, who offered considerable discounts on flights to 50 domestic destinations in its 'Love Australia' sale

Tourism Australia’s efforts were bolstered by national airline Qantas, who offered considerable discounts on flights to 50 domestic destinations in its ‘Love Australia’ sale

Tourism Australia’s managing director Phillipa Harrison said the ‘Holiday Here This Year’ campaign would send a message that Australia is open for business and ready to embrace visitors with open arms. 

‘There is no doubt that Australian tourism has been hit hard by the recent bushfires. It’s critical that we help the industry get back on its feet as soon as possible,’ she said in a statement in January.

‘The desire from ordinary Australians to assist the communities impacted both directly and indirectly has been overwhelming.

‘That’s why we are asking people to commit to holidaying in their own backyard this year – whether it’s a drive up the coast, taking a trip interstate, or ticking off a bucket list destination – and to spread the word that Australia is ready to welcome more travellers.’

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