Spotted By Locals: Tim Cope’s Gippsland

This adventurer, author, film-maker and expedition leader loves returning to the wild and wide-open spaces of West Gippsland.

Born in Warragul and raised in Drouin South, Tim Cope spent his childhood bushwalking, hiking, kayaking, skiing, swimming and exploring the region’s pristine environments.

In adulthood, it seems natural that he would explore the world beyond – from guiding in Arctic wilderness areas to bikeriding across Russia and China.

Tim’s latest adventure saw him on horseback crossing the Eurasian steppes, an expedition that forms the basis of his new book, On The Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads.

Tim’s father was an outdoor educator. “So when I was a kid, I was lucky to be pulled out of school to go cross-country skiing at Mount Baw Baw and Mount St Gwinear and sometimes ski with his university students at Mount Hotham,” Tim says. “Dad took us to wild places. He took us sea kayaking and introduced us to hiking and surfing.”

Wilsons Promontory really inspired me. It gave me a sense of adventure.

Tim’s grandparents had a block of land at Sandy Point near Waratah Bay, where the family would camp during school holidays. “We’d spend two to three months a year there when I was growing up,’’ he says. ‘‘Walking along the spit at Sandy Point on kilometres of beach overlooking Wilsons Promontory really inspired me. It gave me a sense of adventure.”

WHERE TO STAY

Basia Mille (basiamille.com.au), a vineyard and olive grove on Waratah Ridge overlooking Wilson’s Promontory, has apartment stays. The estate’s main house is where meals are served and, in the cooler months, where guests gather around a double-sided fireplace. Basia Mille also has a book and DVD library.

Toms Cap Vineyard Retreat (tomscap.com.au), at the eastern end of Central Gippsland’s Strzelecki Ranges, has two-bedroom spa cottages with fully equipped kitchens. The retreat also has two restaurants and a cellar door.

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EXPERIENCES

Tim says spring is the best season to enjoy the Strzelecki Ranges, walking under the giant mountain ash and tree ferns in Mount Worth State Park, and in Tarra Bulga National Park.

‘‘In spring and early summer, I like the high plains around Hotham and Dinner Plain, too. There are nice spring grasses and wildflowers, and the temperature is cool,” he says.

He says Wilsons Promontory and Waratah Bay are favourite places to visit in autumn. ‘‘Around Sealers Cove, Waterloo Bay and Refuge Cove – glassy water days, crisp starry nights, a full moon over the water, high tides. And it’s nice to go surfing at Sandy Point in autumn, too.”

In winter, Tim likes to cross-country ski at Mount Baw Baw.

‘‘The Victorian Alps are unique,’’ he says. ‘‘In one weekend, I can go skiing or bushwalking at Baw Baw, surf on the Gippsland coast and then the next day can be at Drouin South enjoying local cheese and wine.”

FOOD AND WINE

Gippsland’s fertile farmlands produce some of the best cheese in the country, as well as fat lambs and quality beef.

“I am a cheese addict. I love gippsland cheeses,” Tim admits. ‘‘I love Tarago River Cheese Company’s shadows of Blue cheese (taragocheese.com), and Jindi’s triple cream brie (jindi.com.au).’’ He’s also fond of Capra Organic Goats Cheese (capracheese.foodo.com.au), which is made in a purpose-built fromagerie near Bairnsdale.

The tapas style dishes on the menu at Drouin East’s Brandy Creek Wines and View Cafe are another favourite. Brandy Creek’s premium cool-climate wines including tempranillo and sparkling pinot gris complement the cafe’s menu, and guests dine overlooking views that stretch across vineyards and olive groves to Mount Baw Baw.

“A great café has just opened at the Old Drouin Butter Factory, too,’’ Tim says. Called Au Lapin Noir, the cafe serves French-style food and doubles as an arts space.

Tim Cope’s Genghis Khan book tour is on now. See timcopejourneys.com; worldexpeditions.com

Spotted by Locals is brought to you in association with Tourism Victoria.

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