Hi, my names Kathie Baker and I wanted to share with you the Best of Sale, Gippsland as I know it. I spent years there raising a family, exploring its hidden gems and watching it prosper from tourism. I’ll tell you a little about the town of Sale, the Seaspray area and what camping at the Seaspray Caravan Park along Ninety Mile Beach has to offer.
My Memories Of Seaspray, Gippsland
My earliest memories started around 40 years ago, where we would head to Seaspray (from Melbourne), with our horses floated behind our 4WD. We would arrive at Seaspray and head to where housing developments now stand to set up camp for the night.
We would make a makeshift corral for the two horses, throw in some hay and pitch our two-man tent. We would light a small fire to keep us warm until we headed to bed, drifting off to sleep with the waves crashing in the distance and the horses moving around close by. Pure bliss. When I say we were roughing it, this was not an understatement, but being 19 years old brings with it a sense of freedom and we saw this adventure as our right of passage into adulthood.
Early the next morning, we would feed the horses and then ride for kilometers along the Ninety Mile Beach without coming across another soul (except the odd fisherman).
Over the years, we continued to spend time poking around Gippsland, especially the Gippsland Region. Work of all things moved us to Sale where we spent many years raising a family. It was with a change in direction with new jobs that we eventually left Gippsland. However we still have roots there today by way of grandchildren and a son that has us coming back to the area often.
Seaspray In The Summer
In Summer the beach is buzzing with people swimming between the flags, but if you walk along the beach past the flagged area you are soon walking on sand that has no other footprints. Ninety miles is just that, ninety miles of beach and beauty.
The Seaspray Surf Club is open during the peak periods, which is a great option if you don’t want to cook or you want to sip on a coffee (or something stronger) while overlooking the views and water. The Seaspray Caravan Park is right on the Ninety Mile Beach and has 238 powered sites available all year round. They provide a great camping kitchen, kids playground, jumping pillow and other handy facilities. If you want to get to the beach and enjoy everything the beach has to offer then Seaspray is a fantastic place to stay.
Seaspray In The Winter
Seaspray in the Winter, equals cold. Victoria in the Winter is cold and no one can dispute that. However, pre-COVID-19 in April, we packed up our Jayco Campervan and two dogs, and headed to Seaspray. The plan was to spend some time with the kids and grandchildren, without being in their backyard. The Seaspray Caravan Park has been relocated to the other side of the town and the council has put a lot of money into the new facilities. It once sat near the Seaspray Surf Club, which at times made it a bit of a higgly-piggly affair.
Being close to the onset of Winter, there weren’t too many other ambitious folk using the Caravan Park, so booking a spot was not a problem.
The Ninety Mile Beach is a beach with attitude. Don’t be deceived by its charm as the rips can be fatal. So it’s important that you only swim during the period it is patrolled and swim between the flags. I am sure there is no one out there crazy enough to dip their toes into the icy water during Winter anyway though.
Free Camping Sites Along Ninety Mile Beach
There are 20 free camping sites located along Ninety Mile Beach between Seaspray and Golden Beach Holiday Park. Check with Parks Victoria on the availability of the sites and how to secure a spot. Campsites can be booked online at parks.vic.gov.au/stay or by calling 13 19 63.
The Town Of Sale, Gippsland, Victoria
Sale is a regional town with much of the local employment coming in through farming, the RAAF and Exxon. The Shire Council is also a big employer, along with the local support services, such as Police, Coles, Woolworths, local restaurants, schools and general community services. Over time the town has prospered because of this. In the days gone by the town was also supported by the National Safety Council, before its collapse in the 1980’s.
The architecture is a reflection of the periods through which the town has grown. The Criterion Hotel is one example of the effort the council has put into ensuring the original “face” of the building is preserved. The building was erected in the 1860’s and was falling down. However it is now back to its former glory, but better as the comforts of today are all there now.
Sale is an easy 2 1/2 hours drive east of Melbourne. It is really the gateway to the Gippsland Lakes where many more stories will unfold in future blogs. Although Bairnsdale claims the honour of this title, if you consider Loch Sport Lake access from the south, then I think Bairnsdale may have a fight on its hands.
The Gippsland Lakes are:
- Lake Wellington
- Lake Victoria
- Lake King
The Port Of Sale And The Swing Bridge
The Port of Sale was significant to the development of the region, but without the Swing Bridge this development and expansion of the area would not have happened. The Swing Bridge opened up the road and river transport in Gippsland, securing the Port of Sale’s place in history.
The construction of the bridge is an engineering marvel and was built and designed in Victoria. Check with the local shire to see when you can see the bridge operate as it is well worth a visit.
Head to the Port of Sale and take a ride on one of the heritage cruises. I’ve heard the gentleman running it gives a great commentary on the history of the area. The canal joins into the Thompson, Latrobe Rivers and the Gippsland Lakes, before spilling into the Sea. This doesn’t mean that this cruise takes you out to the ocean though.
The view along the canal will captivate you. The canal is used by the local schools for rowing practice, so I have spent time paddling on this water way. From the brochures I believe the trip will take you to the Latrobe Wharf before turning back and heading to the Port of Sale again.
Then head to the Gallery and treat yourself to a well deserved coffee and cake. The view from the cafe looks out over the water and is all under the roof of the Cultural Centre.
Sale Botanic Gardens, Lake Guthridge And Lake Guyatt
The Sale Botanic Gardens is an awesome place to have a stroll, play with the younger kids and enjoy a BBQ. The peacocks wander through and I must say that the council has done wonders for the area. The gardens are right next to the lakes, named Guthridge and Guyatt, making it all one big scenic area to explore.
So grab the kids and head there for the afternoon. They will love the walk as there is heaps to keep them amused, including all the local wildlife, and playground equipment.
There’s an enclosure which also has animals, and when I say enclosure it is really large and keeps the animals safe. Keep an eye out for the swans and the wallabies, as these are my favourites.
Head towards the lake from the Sale Botanical Gardens and follow the paths around Lake Guyatt and Lake Guthridge. Look out for the Sale Powder Magazine building which was built in 1864 to safely hold explosive powder used in the gold mining days. It certainly has a history of its own.
Gippsland, The Perfect Holiday Spot
There is no doubt that Gippsland has something for everyone, making it the perfect holiday destination if you are around that area. It is right on Melbourne’s doorstep, and has plenty of adventures, swimming, camping and culture to explore that is family friendly. And if the notorious Melbourne weather is making you hesitate, be assured in Gippsland it is usually a lot milder.
That concludes the Best Of Sale, Gippsland, Victoria spoken from my true Aussie experiences and memories. Until next time, Kathie.