Sale

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Swing bridge at Sale, Victoria
The picturesque swing bridge at Sale. PIC: Visit Victoria

While it is the proximity of the magnificent Gippsland Lakes system which initially draws most visitors to the Victorian town of Sale, it could be any number of other attractions that persuade them to stay longer than intended.

Like so many country towns, Sale has a fascinating history. Located on the Thomson River about 200 kilometres southeast of Melbourne, the town really ‘took off’ during the gold rush of the early 1850s.

Today, there are still some fascinating historic buildings to enjoy, including the former municipal offices which were built in 1863 and are now home to the Sale Historical Museum, the newly restored Criterion Hotel which was originally built in 1865, and the Our Lady of Sion Convent which was built at the end of the 19th century. It’s also impossible for visitors to miss the large clock tower which stands guard over the commercial centre of town and its full range of shops and services.

As you would expect of a town with a population of 15,000, there are some great camping options here, including the well-located Sale Motor Village, and the Sale Showground Caravan & Motorhome Park. Sale’s original development kicked into another gear back in 1890 when a man-made canal was built to link the town centre with the Gippsland Lakes and the open sea via the Thomson River.

The historic Port of Sale has recently enjoyed a multi-million-dollar redevelopment, which has seen it become a vibrant entertainment precinct, housing the Gippsland Art Gallery, as well as a number of other heritage and leisure facilities. Grey nomads may also enjoy the fishing platforms, boat ramp, and 200-metre boardwalk.

The boardwalk is actually the start of a five-kilometre trail which takes visitors to an historic 45-metre long, wrought iron swing bridge which was built in 1883 and spans the La Trobe River at the Thomson River junction. The bridge was designed to swing open to allow steam boats travelling between the Port of Sale and Melbourne to pass through during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Just south of town is the famed Sale Common and Wildlife Refuge, which consists of freshwater marsh, red gum woodland and grasslands. The many tracks and boardwalks allow visitors to view the large numbers of waterbirds.

Other great walks can be enjoyed in the 35-hectare Lake Guthridge Parklands which is home to both Lake Guthridge and Lake Guyatt, as well as a wonderful Botanic Gardens. Here also, is the historic Powder Magazine which was built in 1865 and was designed to contain any explosion of powder and project it upwards rather than outwards.

Sale is also home to an RAAF base which was used to train bomber pilots in World War II and which is now used by the aerobatic team, the Roulettes, which can often be seen in the skies overhead. A little further afield, but still within half an hour’s drive or so, there is more to explore. How about Lake Wellington, the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, Holey Plains State Park, and the pristine coastline of Ninety Mile Beach for starters?

What a wonderful part of the world!

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