With rolling hills to the north and the stunning South Gippsland coastline to the south, the Victorian farming town of Toora certainly ticks all of the scenery boxes … but its appeal to grey nomads doesn’t stop there.
With a fascinating history, some unique olde world shopping, great walking opportunities, and a ‘controversial’ wind farm thrown in in for good measure, this settlement of 700 or so residents is worth more than a quick stopover.
Located along the South Gippsland Highway, about 180 kilometres southeast of Melbourne, Toora was originally known as Muddy Creek. It came into existence following the establishment of a large timber mill in 1860, and its growth was then fuelled by a Government scheme to encourage farmers to settle in the area.
A post office opened in 1882, and then tin mining in the area and the arrival of the railway, saw more residents move in. Churches, a school, a dairy farm and eventually a hospital followed … and Toora’s heyday was in full swing.
It was destined not to last long though with the Great Depression in the 1930s hitting the town hard. Mining in the area stopped in 1942, the train station closed in 1983, and the hospital shut in 1985.
Today though, this is a great place for grey nomads to visit. Taking the Toora Heritage Walk is the best way to view and appreciate the many heritage buildings that line the town’s streets.
Interpretation boards are set up at key points, including the still-operating Royal Standard Hotel built in 1889, the former Bank of Victoria built in 1906, the police station built in 1891, and St Thomas Church of England built in 1892.
For grey nomads who love to browse for antiques or interesting knick knacks, Toora is a top spot with shops including Mauzie’s Most Marvellous Vintage, Toora Fancy Goods and Old Relics, and the Toora Bargain Centre.
Other spots in town worth a look are the Toora Village Studio Art Gallery, Rare Earth Studio Gallery, and the Toora Tin Mine Mural. Grey nomads will be pleased to know that there is long vehicle parking available on Jetty Road, but big rigs aren’t the only ‘awkward’ modes of transport catered to here.
Six horse parking pens have just been built in town to cater to visiting equestrians taking a break from the Great Southern Rail Trail. The 72-kilometre trail passes through Toora as it wends its way from Leongatha to Port Welshpool, via the area’s stunning countryside and gorgeous villages.
For travellers not quite ready for a 70-kilometre plus hike or ride, a great way to get an overview of the surrounding area and the mountains of Wilsons Promontory is to visit the Silcocks Hill Road Lookout just out of town.
Also visible from here are the dozen giant turbines of the Toora Wind Farm, one of the first commercial wind farms in Victoria. Just 12 kilometres north east of Toora are the Agnes Falls, where the water plunges 60 metres over the gorge, making it Victoria’s highest single-span waterfall.
The falls are accessed by a non-taxing 250-metre walk from the picnic ground. For birdwatchers … and even for non birdwatchers … the Toora Bird Hide is another must. The hide, accessible via a 500-metre boardwalk, overlooks an expansive wetland area which is classified as being of international importance.
Unfortunately for budget-minded travellers, the nearby Franklin River Reserve is no longer welcoming campers. However, the Toora Tourist Park, located on a hillside overlooking Wilson’s Prom and Corner Inlet, offers a wide range of facilities and promises grey nomads ‘reasonable rates’.
There’s an awful lot to recommend this very special part of the world.
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