The Gippsland Gourmet Trail provides the perfect reason for hundreds of visitors from near and far to visit my home country around Mirboo North. Every trip extends my belt a notch, which then takes a week of normalcy to undo.

On any given trip the cause of this dietary disaster may be blackberry nip from Mt Erica, wine from any number of local addresses, cheeses — ahhh, don’t begin with the Gippsland cheeses. There are creamy, soft goats and buffalo cheeses, blues and cheddars, blends and smoked.

Whether you like it hard or soft, strong or sensuous, this trail will meet your needs.

Bread and pastries, cookies and mouthwatering cakes for the sweet tooth are served alongside homemade chocolates, toffees and sweets. Fresh fish, goat, emu, venison and jump steak from the back of our other national emblem can be enjoyed in home-style cafés, restaurants, pubs and flashy country hangouts.

Beers with international medal-winning flavours are now produced in the old butter factory we scampered around looking for Dad at work.

Those pesky lil’ wabbits from childhood await the gourmet traveller in soups and tureens, stews and baked dishes, as they drive to the breeding ground of local and international sports stars.

The great ’60s AFL star Bomber Kalliday called this home and Tim Forsyth’s Olympic high jump medal found its beginnings in the green rolling hills. Countless runners, cyclists, swimmers and footballers could not help but be champions as they gorged their way through their childhood.

Fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy products and the flavours of many national cuisines ensured their young bodies lacked none of the key dietary ingredients of champions.

Our family was raised on this endless supply. In my later years, it is sensational to see that the newsagency is run by a couple of gay guys my mum has dubbed a ‘team’, still not quite comfortable with the fact that two of her gay sons have ‘teams’ of their own.

She enjoys the indulgences of the local chocolatier, the Brewery chef’s cuisine, and the output of Vincenza’s organic snails in Café Escargot. I sampled exotic Italian variations on this French classic about five minutes from where I went to school.

When in Mirboo North, do as the Parisians do — eat snails.

My journeys are an integral part of life. Many of them involve a sport. To begin your sporting journey, visit QSAM, and investigate the games and events that can take you across town, interstate or around the world; www.queersportsmelbourne.org

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