In the industrialised Latrobe Valley, Newborough is a town contiguous with its larger sibling, Moe.
The towns along the valley are linked by the Princes Highway, putting a ton of attractions and amenities in easy reach.
Within a 15-minute radius of Newborough are high-quality museums, a regional art gallery, a scenic lake for recreation and a fabulous rose garden.
Ten minutes north of the town, you can leave the valley behind and venture into the southern foothills of the Great Dividing Range.
There the native eucalypt woodland is brocaded with wildflowers in spring and you can hike to lookouts to see the Latrobe Valley from the first ridge.
1. Lake Narracan
Spreading across more than 280 hectares, this manmade lake to the north of Newborough is an outdoor recreation hub for the area.
Lake Narracan is on the Latrobe River and was impounded in the late-1950s to provide cooling water for the power stations in the valley.
Because of the reservoir’s industrial purpose you’re allowed to use motorboats and jet-skis here, while fishing, sailing and windsurfing are also big here.
There are also powered and unpowered campsites on the wooded shore, and you can take a walk by the water or go for a dip at the designated swimming area by the caravan park on the southern shore.
Close by is Moe Golf Club, which enjoys lovely views of the water against the peaks in the north.
2. Old Gippstown
In Moe you can visit an open-air museum documenting the European history of Gippsland, from the middle of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century.
Old Gippstown has more than 40 historical buildings transferred to three hectares of charming parkland.
These structures, including a school, general store, bank building, halfway house and homestead for explorer Angus McMillan, are crammed with absorbing artefacts and pieces of ephemera.
You can browse a huge collection of horsedrawn vehicles, as well as antique furniture, home appliances, art, tools, machinery, military artefacts from the world wars, documents and books.
Old Gippstown is also a venue for big events throughout the year, from Australia Day to Carols by Candlelight.
3. Moe-Yallourn Rail Trail
Newborough is bypassed just to the north by an 8.5-kilometre trail on the course of an industrial railway, built in the 50s to serve the Yallourn Power Station.
The line was shut down in the 1980s when briquette production was switched to Morwell.
Heading east, the Moe-Yallourn Rail Trail departs Moe Botanic Gardens and grants you pleasing views of the local farmland.
There’s a sublime display of wildflowers in spring, and you can make a short diversion to Lake Narracan for a picnic.
East of the reservoir the giant cooling towers and chimneys of the Yallourn “W” Power Station hove into view.
4. Haunted Hills Hillclimb Track
Motorsport fans will be thrilled to know that possibly the best permanent hillclimb circuit in Australia is in Newborough’s backyard.
Also known as Bryant Park, this facility is impeccably maintained by the Gippsland Car Club, one of the only motoring organisations with its own track.
Whereas most hillclimb tracks are on public roads, Haunted Hills is sealed off and stages more than 40 weekends of racing each year.
The circuit comes with an up-to-date clubroom, several spectator areas and competitor garages, and hosted the Australian Hill Climb Championships in 2009, 2011 and 2016.
5. Moe Botanic Gardens
There’s hilly scenery covered with eucalypt forest just north of Lake Narracan, but if you’d like a more refined and sedate wander then Moe Botanic Gardens is ideal.
As we mentioned above, this is the western terminus for the rail trail, but is also a lovely place to pass an hour or two by the tranquil Narracan Creek.
There’s some pretty landscaping and a medley of native and exotic trees, interrupted by well-kept lawns.
The weekly 5km Newborough Parkrun takes place here at 08:00 on Saturdays.
The new, interactive playground was set up by the Moe Rotary Club and comes with a flying fox, nest swing and sand pit.
6. Ollerton Avenue Bushland Reserve
This ten-hectare tract of quiet bushland lies near the middle of Newborough and is surrounded by residential neighbourhoods.
The biome at the Ollerton Avenue Bushland Reserve is plains grassy forest, supporting more than 120 native flora species, among them a variety of eucalypts like stringybark and peppermint.
There are wide and accessible trails through the reserve, and if you take your time you’ll become aware of the vibrant birdlife in the reserve.
For parents with young children in tow there’s a small playground right at the western entrance on Dudley Court.
7. Latrobe Regional Gallery (LRG)
The regional art gallery for the whole of Latrobe City is a mere ten minutes away in Morwell.
Founded in 1971, this is a sizeable public gallery with seven exhibition spaces.
Over half a century the LRG has built up some nationally important collections for Australian art from all periods, art relating to Gippsland, works on paper, Asian art, sculpture and Australian glass art.
Selections from this inventory can be seen in exhibitions all year, along with significant touring shows and temporary exhibitions for established and rising artists from the Latrobe City region.
The gallery shop is also first-rate, stocking locally crafted ceramics, jewellery and more, while the “So Swish” cafe is open seven days.
8. Tyers Park
North of Newborough you’ll depart the Latrobe Valley and enter the foothills of the epic Great Dividing Range, spanning much of eastern Australia.
Within a short drive of Newborough the mountainous forest is protected by a string of parks and reserves.
One of these is the 1,810-hectare Tyers Park, a bushwalking paradise for its rocky scenery and profusion of wildflowers in springtime.
An important natural feature is the Tyers Gorge, where the namesake river has sliced deep through the rock.
There are striking outcrops of conglomerate and limestone to admire all around, and the limestone is known to yield plant and animal fossils.
9. Peterson’s Lookout
For an easy but very rewarding walk in Tyers Park, head to the east side of the river via the Tyer-Walhalla Road.
From there you can access the W2 Track, approximately two kilometres long and leading from a long-abandoned timber mill site to a high vantage point on the above the river and gorge.
From Peterson’s Lookout you’ll also be able to look north, right along the gorge, and south over the Latrobe Valley’s distant industry.
Keep one eye out for the peregrine falcons that nest close to the lookout platform, while the bush is embroidered with wildflowers for much of the year, but especially in spring.
10. Moondarra State Park
North-west of Tyers Park is the even larger Moondarra State Park, encompassing almost 7,000 hectares of mostly eucalypt forest.
Like many of the other protected spaces on the north side of the Latrobe Valley, this is a wonderland for wildflowers in spring.
For a truly memorable walk you can take the Moe-Walhalla Road to get onto the Seninis Track, no more than 20 minutes north of Newborough.
An amazing 16 different species of native orchids have been recorded along this trail.
At all other times the park is a big draw for hiking and camping, out in the wilderness but minutes from the towns in the valley.
11. Wirilda Environment Park
A kind of gateway to the rugged scenery on the north side of the Latrobe Valley, the Wirilda Environment Park is a private space open to the public.
This is 100 hectares of former farmland open 365 days a year and furnished with facilities like electric barbecues, a pavilion, walking tracks and bird watching hides.
The park’s website has a helpful guide for the many bird species residing in the bush, from cuckoos and cockatoos to the laughing kookaburra, white-faced heron and superb lyrebird.
If you’re feeling fit then the park can also be the departure point for a tough but fulfilling hike up through the Tyers Gorge to the Moondarra Dam.
12. Trafalgar Holden Museum
Ten minutes west you can pay tribute to an icon of Australian motoring at a private museum founded on the collection of one enthusiast.
Nineteen of Neil Joiner’s Holdens are on display at the Trafalgar Holden Museum, among them three models from the 1960s (HD Premier, HK, EJ) with barely any miles on the clock.
There’s also a wealth of Holden memorabilia, as well as fun interactive displays and a theatrette, all recounting the story of the Holden brand going back to the mid-19th century as a saddlery.
The museum opened in 2014, at a spacious former Butter Factory constructed in the 1930s.
13. Morwell Centenary Rose Garden
Keen gardeners come from far and wide to savour the more than 4,000 rose bushes from 400 varieties growing at this award-winning, free-to-visit garden.
To name a small few of the varieties, you’ll find rugosas, floribunda, tea roses and hybrid teas.
The Morwell Centenary Rose Garden is lovingly tended, with features like pergolas, a central gazebo and decorative climbing frames wreathed with blooms, while the delicate scent of its thousands of blooms will hit you before you even set foot inside.
There are roses from all over the world to admire, with Australian and New Zealand-created varieties towards the south side of the garden, and old world varieties growing to the north in an exquisite cottage garden.
14. Latrobe Leisure Moe Outdoor Pool
A godsend for families on hot summer days, the public outdoor pool in Moe is open from the end of November to the start of March.
Partially under shade sails, the complex is anchored by a 50m, eight-lane training pool, but also has a diving pool, a shallow pool for kids, with beach entry, as well as an interactive water play area.
The attraction has been renovated in the last few year and is complemented by grassy spaces and BBQs so you could easily spend a whole day.
15. Yallourn Golf Club
Actually in Newborough, Yallourn Golf Club has an 18-hole championship course in pristine bushland.
Before you tee off you can hit the full driving range and the short game area to get back into your stride.
The course’s main competition day is Saturday, so if you want to get a casual round in as a visitor you’ll need to tee off after 13:30. The clubhouse was reconstructed in the 2000s and offers full equipment and cart hire, as well as the Spike Bar, where you can pay green fees.
As of spring 2020 these were $20 for nine holes and $30 for eighteen.