When my fiancé and I had to postpone our intended Canberra wedding during the pandemic, we had a myriad of venue options here in South Gippsland. The only way we could work our way through the ideas was to write a list, and since we’ve now picked our site, I thought I’d share the list for others!
Barely an hour past Melbourne’s urban fringe, but a million miles from the capital’s hustle, South Gippsland offers couples a wedding connected to country, where guests can be truly present.
So here is a list of unique wedding sites in the South Gippsland and Bass Coast shires.
Best open air space: Korumburra Botanic Park
The region is replete with beautiful parks, and it may not be immediately obvious why Korumburra Botanic Park stands out to me. But there is a peninsula formed by a turn of Coalition Creek that makes a wonderful spot, allowing the happy couple to be surrounded by their friends and family in a natural cathedral. The park lends itself to wedding photography, with both native vegetation along the creek, and great expanses of lawn under impressive oaks and cedars. At dusk the entire park comes alive with birdsong, and Korumburra’s many reception options are barely five minutes by car.
Best for eloping: Loch
Loch is known for its cafes and shops, attracting day trippers from all over the region. On weekends, the village buzzes with folks enjoying the op shop, antiques store, brewery and on the first Saturday of each month, the bustling market! The area around Loch boasts many iconic landscapes featuring South Gippsland’s rolling hills, but my pick for tying the knot is the charmingLoch Suspension Bridge on the edge of town. There’s not much space for a crowd, but it’s perfect for the five people you need for the simplest of weddings. As the cold months give way to the season of pareip, the bridge is surrounded by boughs of wattle, but it’s beautiful any time of year. And Loch has several options for a sumptuous celebratory meal, as well as some fantastic and unique accommodation.
Best historic site: Coal Creek
The Coal Creek Community Park and Museum is a recreated colonial village featuring a number of historic buildings from across South Gippsland. One of them, a church originally built in Krowera, is a popular site for weddings, although there are many options throughout the museum. The staff can help with arrangements, and there are many options for photographs on site before moving to one of Korumburra’s great venues for a reception.
Best local hall: Jeetho
Once home to the local council, Jeetho Hall is now the last building standing among the peaceful paddocks of surrounding dairy farms, and has been lovingly restored by the rural community around it. The twin-gabled façade is distinctive and the interior’s wood panelling provides great acoustics for live music. There is also plenty of space behind the hall for an additional marquee if you want a big reception on site.
Best mountaintop site: Mount Oberon Summit
To go all out in the unique stakes, you can’t beat a mountain summit like Oberon (and the king of the færies is a great theme!). Mount Oberon overlooks the Tidal River camping village in the middle of Wilson’s Promontory National Park. It is a relatively easy one hour walk: up all the way there, and down all the way back, with a few narrow stairs near the summit itself (this would not be a wedding site for a frilly dress!). The reward is a 360° view over the beaches, islands, and mountains of the southernmost point of the Australian mainland. It may not be everyone’s favourite choice, but it would make your wedding a moment to remember, and sunrise or sunset photos would be spectacular. And conveniently, just below the summit you pass a mobile phone tower, so it is a perfectly practical spot to livestream from!
Best beach site…
Beach weddings are a tricky beast! You need a site that makes access easy for all ages, enough shade for guests to retreat into, toilets and enough isolation to minimise the number of passers-by. The balance will depend on things like who you have coming, their mobility and personal preference, but making a good decision is by no means easy.
Perhaps the most postcard-perfect in the region is Williamson’s Beach. A long, golden strip of sand open to the wilds of Bass Strait, and facing west for the perfect sunset wedding, it would make for great photos and an impressive livestream. But from the nearest carpark, which is quite small, to the beach, you and your guests need to be able to trudge through a soft sand path; there are no toilets within cooee; and if the weather is not kind in town, it will certainly be worse on the shore. It is also one of the more popular beaches for locals of the large township of Wonthaggi, so it’s not really quiet.
Kilcunda is something of an improvement, with toilets nearby; boardwalks to the beach; and a picturesque railway bridge. But being on the Bass Highway makes it one of the busier beaches around these parts. And however busy Kilcunda is, all the gorgeous beaches on Phillip Island are going to be busier.
The only option to find that perfect quiet beach is to go farther from the metropolis. The beaches that balance all of these considerations best are those on the eastern side of Cape Liptrap. All boast the beautiful Wilson’s Promontory on the horizon, and there are options for toilets, close parking and boardwalks. Of them all, I suspect that Waratah Bay offers the best balance of all considerations, but I recommend an afternoon drive from Sandy Point (where you should consider Ned Neale’s Lookout for a beach view from a solid, accessible surface) to Maitland Beach and the Cape Liptrap lighthouse, to find the spot that meets your needs.
There are endless options for beach weddings along the Bass coast: if you would like to include live music in your ceremony, consider a beach on an inlet; if important guests have mobility issues, consider using a lookout or a lighthouse overlooking the beach instead of the sand.
Of course, if you are choosing an outdoor venue, one of the most important things to arrange is your backup plan. For a wedding with more than ten guests, you will want to find a place nearby where you can shift your ceremony should the weather not cooperate. Keep in mind, though; for a small wedding with a flexible celebrant like me, it may be possible to have an alternative date as your backup plan!
There are a myriad of commercial venues as well, who will take on much of the planning for you. Commercial wedding venues are never cheap wedding venues, but they really know what they’re doing!
However you choose your wedding site, the most important thing is to consider how you want to mark the occasion. Traditions are only meaningful if you find meaning in them! The most dramatic sites demand that you rethink tradition and interpret it in a way that honours who you are as a couple.
As always, if I can be of any help in thinking about wedding venues, get in touch!