In Victoria‘s Gippsland region, Moe is part of a line of connected settlements along the industrial Latrobe Valley.
This brings real contrast to the surrounding countryside, where cooling towers and open cut coal mines soon give way to pastoral dairy farms and tracts of remnant bushland.
Museums and attractions around Moe recall the early days of European settlement and the importance of immigration to Gippsland, while old industrial railways have become rail trails for light walks in the bush.
The southern slopes of the Great Dividing Range are just north of Moe, and you can travel up to the Gold Rush town of Walhalla, once among the richest places in Australia and now a ghost town.
1. Old Gippstown – Gippsland’s Heritage Park
Moe’s big draw is a much-loved outdoor museum charting Gippsland’s European settlement.
More than forty heritage buildings stand at this charming three-hectare site, all dating from the middle of the 19th century to the start of the 20th century.
These have been relocated to Moe from across the region, and some standouts are Moe’s Holy Trinity Anglican Church (1889), a working waterwheel from Buxton, Sunny Creek School (1920s), Meeniyan National Bank (1899) and the Narracan General Store (1889).
To go with these structures are some great collections, like Australia’s largest publicly owned fleet of horse-drawn carriages, as well as antique furniture, books, documents, tools, militaria, machinery and many pieces of obscure ephemera bringing the past to life.
2. Moe-Yallourn Rail Trail
Heading east from Bennett Street in the heart of Moe is an eight-kilometre trail on the route of a former railway line.
Dating to the 1950s, this branch joined the mainline at Moe and served the Yallourn Power Station, its open cut mine and a briquette factory.
The line shut down in the 1980s and is now laid with gravel for a gentle walk into the countryside.
Along the way you’ll go through Moe Botanic Gardens and peaceful creek flats, and will have views of the Haunted Hills and Lake Narracan.
On a hot day you can take a detour to the lake for a swim, while in the east stand the imposing cooling towers and stacks of the Yallourn Power Station.
3. Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve
Something special about Moe is that right in the town is a big tract of remnant vegetation, one of the last of its kind to be found in the Latrobe Valley.
So a couple of minutes south of the CBD you can amble into native eucalyptus forest, along a fern-lined creek and over a wetland area crossed by boardwalks.
You can pause to observe the wildlife at viewing platforms, and there are helpful maps and information boards detailing the reserve’s plant and animal species.
Orchids can be seen all year round, while in spring there’s a profusion of wildflowers.
The terrain is moderately hilly, and you’ll have lots of opportunities to explore by taking the little trails that branch off the main track.
4. Narracan Falls
Narracan Creek rises around 20 kilometres south-west of Moe, meandering through the undulating farmland to the Latrobe River, just north of the town.
For a worthwhile excursion you can make the 15-minute trip south of Moe to this small but picture-perfect waterfall on the creek.
Standing about five metres tall, Narracan Falls rests among mature trees and fields specked with sheep and cows.
There’s a short, 50-metre trail from the car park and you can pack a picnic to spend a little more time in this idyllic place.
5. Lake Narracan
Moe’s northern boundary is formed by a reservoir on the Latrobe River, completed in the early-1960s to supply cooling water to local power stations.
And because Lake Narracan doesn’t supply domestic water, it’s a honeypot for all manner of outdoor activities, especially in summer.
Motorised water sports like jet-skiing, powerboating and water-skiing are permitted here, as well as sailing, kayaking and paddleboarding.
There’s a campground on the southern shore, and next door to this is Moe Golf Club, which has several holes overlooking the water.
Fronting the caravan park is the lake’s swimming area, which has a small sandy beach and a jetty, with a grassy hill behind where you can rest under the gum trees.
6. Moe Botanical Gardens
This endearing local park is on the east side of the CBD, and connects to the Moe-Yallourn Rail Trail.
There you’ll find a mix of native and exotic trees, verdant lawns, Narracan Creek and snaking paths, all complemented by picnic tables, a barbecue shelter and toilets.
But what makes the gardens essential for families is the fantastic railway-themed playground.
This comes with a nest swing, flying fox, a water play area on the creek bed, a sand pit and a locomotive to climb on.
7. Apex Park
For generations Moe residents have brought their children to this park by the town’s racecourse.
Apex Park has pretty much all you could want for a relaxing hour or two, and is also a venue for public outdoor events like the Moe Community Carnival and Fireworks Display.
There are tall, mature trees, a grassy space for ballgames, electric BBQs, a dog run, ample seating, toilets and a shelter.
For kids there’s a sprawling, all abilities playground complete with a liberty swing, as well as a nature play space beside it with a treehouse and wooden carvings of animals.
8. Morwell Centenary Rose Garden
A rose garden of international quality is on hand moments away in Morwell.
Growing in these two hectares are more than 3,500 roses, from both new hybrids and traditional classics, arranged in carefully tended beds traced by paving bricks.
There are climbing roses for splendid walls of colour and scent, while meandering paths wend their way though beds of rugosa, Austin, Delbard, floribunda and hybrid tea roses.
On the garden’s south side you can check out rose varieties developed in Australia and New Zealand, while on show in a cute cottage garden to the north are old and species roses.
9. Trafalgar Holden Museum
Ten minutes away in Trafalgar, an old butter factory from the 1930s has been turned into a shrine for the iconic Australian car marque, Holden.
This is all the work of one enthusiast, Neil Joiner, who has built up a sizeable collection spanning the history of Holden as a carmaker.
Among the stars of the show are a 1963 EJ Holden, a 1965 Holden HD Premier and a 1967 Holden HK, none with more than 21,000km on the clock.
Accompanying these models are all kinds of accessories, as well as details about the story of the brand, going back to its early days as a saddler in the mid-19th century.
10. Latrobe Regional Gallery
Morwell is also the location for one of the largest public galleries in eastern Victoria.
This has seven exhibition spaces, hosting a dynamic program of shows with works from a range of media by regional and national touring artists.
The Latrobe Regional Gallery also possesses a superb collection of its own, running to 1,400+ pieces and comprising Australian fine art from all periods, Australian sculpture (displayed at the sculpture garden), Asian art, works in glass and art tied to the history of the Gippsland region.
The gallery also puts on regular tours, talks, children’s activities and workshops, has an excellent cafe and a gift shop filled with interesting pieces by Gippsland arts and crafters.
11. Moe Outdoor Pool
For families, summers in Moe are made a lot more comfortable by this public outdoor pool open from the end of November to the start of March.
This facility has been renovated in the last few years and has an eight-lane 50m pool for exercise, as well as a shallow pool with beach entry for fun and relaxation.
In addition to these there’s a diving pool and an interactive water play area for children.
The whole space is bordered by generous grassy areas with lots of shade, and there’s an electric BBQ and a kiosk for when you get peckish.
12. Gippsland Immigration Park
You can find out about the central role of immigration in the development of Gippsland at this pretty spot next to Morwell Lake.
Encircling the shore and guiding you past the handsome Kernot Hall, the Gippsland Heritage Walk has 72 information boards, tackling the region’s past from several angles including Aboriginal Gunaikurnai history.
The park’s showpiece is the Immigration Wall of Recognition, where granite walls pay tribute to the achievements of local immigrant families.
These panels encircle an inspiring statue representing a newly arrived migrant, bag in hand and shielding his eyes from the Australian sun.
13. Tyers Junction Rail Track
The old Tyers Valley Tramway was a narrow gauge line built to transport timber from the slopes of Mount Baw Baw in the 1920s.
The line closed in 1949, but you can hike along the old route up the Tyers Valley.
The trailhead is right on the Moe-Walhalla Road, and this rough dirt track weaves up the valley on a smooth gradient for 11 kilometres.
On a little adventure you’ll pass through fern-bedded valleys, rainforest and cross little creeks.
Visiting Moe you’ll be in a convenient spot to venture into the southern end of Great Dividing Range.
And close by, in the tight and wooded Stringers Creek valley is the Gold Rush town of Walhalla.
In the second half of the 19th century this became one of the richest places in Australia, but the gold supply flat-lined, and at the last census there were just 20 people living here permanently.
Walhalla thrives now as a tourist destination, where you can relive the Gold Rush days amid beautiful upland scenery that takes on glorious colours in autumn.
There’s a heritage walk around town with more than 30 interpretive signs, and you can view the original gold workings at the Long Tunnel Extended Mine.
Not to be missed is the Walhalla Goldfields Railway, criss-crossing Stringers Creek gorge on via epic trestle bridges, on a line that once ran all the way from Moe to Walhalla.
15. Traralgon Farmers’ Market
If you happen to be around Latrobe City on the fourth Saturday of the month you could make the short journey east for this award-winning market.
Organised by the local Lions Club and based in the lovely Kay Street, the farmers’ market gives you the chance to buy fruit, vegetables, plants, herbs, cheese, eggs, meat, jams , bread, olive oil, tea, pastries, condiments and much more, direct from the grower or producer.
There will be live music while you shop, as well as activities for children like face-painting.
Be sure to bring an appetite for some of the enticing food and drink made on site, from pies to Chinese street food.