10 things to love about Sale

Port of Sale at night

Nick Place

Posted May 17, 2016

Beaches, lakes and nearby mountains are just some of the regional attractions.

Your guide:

  • Name: Lillian Erikson
  • Position: RACV Shop manager, Sale
  • Why she loves it: Sale is minutes from great beaches in summer and an easy drive from the snow in winter.
Criterion hotel at night

Criterion Hotel. Photo: Anne Morley

Take a walk

With mountains, beaches and lakes all close by, Sale has no shortage of nature. There are well-maintained, diverse boardwalks and hikes all around the town and district, with lots of birdwatchers enjoying the diverse birdlife. There are rail trails for biking, and the Sale Common Wetlands Trail is well worth completing.

Enjoy the lake

This is where you’ll find Sale’s Botanical Gardens, fauna park and an aquatic complex. Sale was originally known as Flooding Creek before being re-named after a British general, so water seems to have always been a feature of the town. Many locals walk or run around the lake and there’s a lot of bird life.

Visit a beach

Sale is close to many great beaches. Seaspray, about 30 kilometres south, is a patrolled beach, with a new Surf Life Saving Club, including a restaurant that promises to bring a new standard of dining to the coast, as well as watching the swimmers.

Golden Beach is also patrolled, plus there’s The Honeysuckles. Loch Sport has calmer waters if you want to get away from the surf and is interesting in its own right, developing from a retirement community to a younger family demographic.

Be impressed

Built in 1865 by Charles Boykett, the Criterion Hotel is one of the oldest pubs you’ll find and also one of the most impressive.

It’s recently had a major refurbishment but the two-storey facade with wrought iron veranda was retained for heritage reasons, which is great because it has wonderful character. Included on the Victorian Heritage Register, the Criterion (90 Macalister St) was closed for a long time because it had deteriorated so badly, but now it’s refreshed, professionally run by Andrew and Fergus, with great food, bar and a function area (ask for Brendan). It’s brilliant that it’s back and it retains a link to before the first railway came through the region.

In the swing

The Swing Bridge, also included on the Victorian Heritage Register, is said to be the oldest surviving still-operating bridge in Australia, working on the state canal. It was built in the 1880s and works on weekends, and every second Wednesday – get to it via the South Gippsland Hwy about 5 kilometres south of town.

It was an engineering marvel when it was built and is still interesting. The Port of Sale precinct was revamped about a decade ago and is great to explore. You can take heritage cruises to get an idea of when the port was thriving. The town connected the railway to the Gippsland Lakes in the Gold Rush era.

Stunt flights

Make sure you look up while you’re here because the large RAAF base at Sale is home to the Roulettes, the air force’s stunt flying team. You see them practising regularly. There’s also a strong navy history in the region, and the Gippsland Armed Forces Museum is a fascinating place. Apparently, in World War II, they thought a Japanese invasion might occur here, which is why we have such a strong military heritage.

Port of Sale with reflections off the water

Port of Sale. Photo: Anne Morley

Have a laugh

The performing arts centre’s actual name is the Esso BHP Billiton Wellington Entertainment Centre but locals call it The Wedge (100 Foster St). It has comedians, theatre, dance; all sorts of shows come through town. There’s also the Gippsland Art Gallery (at the Port of Sale Business Centre, 64 Foster St). Established in 1965, it has a diverse collection of modern art, with rotating and visiting exhibitions.

Take a break

The Red Catt Cafe is my pick of the cafes in town, enthusiastically run by Matt and Michelle. Redd Catt (192 Raymond St) has a great atmosphere, fantastic service and an interesting and tasty array of local produce.


The Hunting Ground on the Princes Hwy (102 York St), is run by Rebecca and Chris. They have a ‘superfood’ focus so there is great healthy eating. I don’t drink coffee but my colleagues at the RACV shop swear the coffee at The Hunting Ground is outstanding.

Visit vehicles

The Gippsland Vehicle Collection is in Maffra, about 17 kilometres away, and our RACV shop has a relationship.We gave funds for a disabled ramp, and the museum lends us vehicles for display in the shop.

I can recommend this museum (1a Sale Rd, Maffra). There are vehicles from all over and an ever-changing display, from horse-drawn vehicles to ultra-modern racing cars. Many private collectors lend vehicles for display. There is a motor community around Sale, and we have a hill climb track.