Gippsland rocks!

Avoid the crowds and explore this gorgeous slice of Australiana


I am embarrassed to admit that, before I visited Australia, I had never heard of the rural region of Gippsland. Despite a massive chunk of my guidebook covering Victoria, there isn’t even a footnote on Warragul, the ‘wild dog’ town that I came to love after just a few days.

My cousin Richard and his wife Leanne emigrated from the UK – where I live – to Gippsland in 2005 and, eager to see them after several years, I planned my first trip to Australia for March this year.

After a few days in Sydney over Mardi Gras, I flew to Adelaide for the Fringe before making my way along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne and then on to Warragul. Ticking off some of Australia’s most iconic sights en-route, I was now excited at the prospect of tasting real life Down Under with my family.

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My first Mardi Gras

How an Australian adventure helped me get my groove back

To say I wasn’t looking forward to attending Mardi Gras was somewhat of an understatement.

It was meant to be the holiday of a lifetime; my fiancé and I had spent a year saving to visit Sydney, Adelaide, the Great Ocean Road and Melbourne. Everything was booked and paid for and then, just two days after Christmas last year, he told me he didn’t love me anymore – and that he’d cheated on me.

Understandably, I was crushed and my whole world crumbled around me, with a bright future suddenly seeming very bleak. We’d been together for five years, have a house – even a dog – together and with everything to sort out as a result, both physically and emotionally, a holiday Down Under was the last thing on my mind.

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Bed and Bizarre

Weetabix covered in Marmite for breakfast? Err… maybe not.

Back bacon, sausage, eggs, black pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread and toast with butter…

When holidaying in the UK, there’s nothing quite like waking up in a bed and breakfast to the joys of a traditional English fry-up.

Admittedly, I have a passionate dislike for baked beans (although full English breakfast aficionados would say that baked beans should never be offered as part of a fry-up) and most holidaymakers have one or two alternate requests to the advertised menu when ordering their dish at a B&B – but corn flakes in lager is certainly one you wouldn’t expect as a hotelier.

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Transnistria: Back in the USSR

On the eastern banks of the River Dniester in Europe lies the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, better known as Transnistria. Although officially still part of Moldova, this breakaway territory has proclaimed its ‘independence’ since 1990. Unquestionably pro-Russian, exploring this separatist state is like taking a walk through the Soviet Union, despite the fact the USSR crumbled in 1991.

The four-car train from Chișinău trundled through the Moldovan countryside as two elderly women chatted near to me and a girl opposite was furiously texting on her mobile phone. At the rear of the carriage, a giant urn was whistling, ready to deposit water in to cups of coffee for two men who were conversing at the snack bar.

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