Stratford’s Avon River has two claims to Gippsland fame: it is reputed to be the fastest rising waterway in the southern hemisphere and it is rapidly gaining a reputation for the Shakespeare on the River Festival in which the Eye2eye Theatre celebrates both the works of the Bard and new Australian playwrights.
In contrast, country music aficionados host an annual festival at Knob Reserve, a 56ha bush park and picnicking area a couple of kilometres south-east of town.
The area was first settled in the early 1840s when William Odell Raymond finally called a halt after driving 8000 sheep 1130km from his drought-stricken run in the Wellington Valley in New South Wales to Gippsland.
The river might flood regularly but its rushing waters have also been washing and polishing riverbed stones for thousands of years and collectors are constantly patrolling the banks in search of such gemstones as jasper and agate.
Talented artists Chris and Dawn Stubbs produce gems of another ilk at their Australian Wildlife Art Gallery and Sculpture Park.