I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published November 24th 2020
A Victorian family favourite
The great thing about the Gippsland Lakes is that they're one of those places where you can do a little or a lot of any number of things. A little fishing, a little boating, a little bushwalking or a lot of nothing. They're all equally enjoyable pastimes in this wonderful natural attraction in far eastern Victoria.
The Gippsland Lakes and in particular the towns of Metung and Paynesville are regarded as one of Victoria's premier boating destinations. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Landlocked except for a narrow and treacherous channel at Lakes Entrance the Gippsland Lakes are a haven for waterbirds and also attract fishermen in their droves, lured by the prospect of flathead, bream and luderick.
The Lakes are also home to a huge number of pleasure craft, including charter fleets of cruisers and yachts operating from Paynesville and Metung. They are very shallow in places and do suffer from silting, but the predominantly mud and sandy bottom is very forgiving should a boat run aground. Even so, careful navigation is necessary to negotiate some of the narrow channels and great care is needed during strong winds when the shallow waters can become very rough.
You'll find boats of all shapes and sizes on the Gippsland Lakes. This is a traditional lakes fishing boat under sail on Lake King. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
The Gippsland Lakes are fed by three rivers, the Mitchell, Nicholson and Tambo, all of which are navigable by large boats for several kilometres inland - the Mitchell as far upstream as Bairnsdale.
The township of Lakes Entrance is located at the eastern end of the system and is one of Victoria's premier tourism destinations with its beaches, quayside cafes and bustling waterfront. It's the commercial hub of the Gippsland Lakes and home to a fleet of fishing boats, which work the waters of Bass Strait, often selling the day's catch directly off the boat. Lakes Entrance also provides easy access to the Ninety Mile Beach via a bridge at Cunningham Arm.
The narrow and often treacherous entrance from Bass Strait to the Lakes requires frequent dredging to keep it passable. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Paynesville and Metung are the pleasure ports of the region, popular holiday destinations, which also provide the infrastructure necessary to support the boating industry. Paynesville is often referred to as the boating capital of Victoria and has seen massive residential development along the lake shoreline and a myriad of man-made canals. Nearby attractions include Raymond Island, Eagle Point and the Mitchell River Silt Jetties.
Canal developments similar to this one have transformed Paynesville living over recent years. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Metung is a little more laid-back but is still a centre for boating and fishing. One of life's great joys is to sit on the verandah of the Metung Hotel, perhaps the focal point of this most picturesque of townships, and watch the comings and goings of boats of all shapes and sizes.
On the eastern shore of Lake Victoria, directly opposite Paynesville, you'll find Sperm Whale Head which, together with Rotamah and Little Rotamah Islands, provides great opportunities for bushwalking amidst a variety of birdlife and the ever-present kangaroos. Sperm Whale Head is accessible by road from Loch Sport but the islands, together with Ocean Grange and Steamer Landing on the Bunga Arm and the Barrier Landing at Entrance Bay can only be reached by boat.
A small vehicular ferry makes the 5-minute crossing from Paynesville to Raymond Island. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
The Gippsland Lakes, together with their coastal parks, the Ninety Mile Beach and the various population centres, all come together to form a 400 square kilometre natural resort set against a backdrop of the Great Divide and Victoria's alpine region. Little wonder then that many people consider this to be the States premier holiday destination.
A trip on a commercial cruise boat is a great introduction to the wonders of the Gippsland Lakes. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Top-5 Things to do in the Gippsland Lakes …..
1. Hire a yacht or cruiser and navigate your way around the lakes.
2. Get some sand between your toes along the Ninety-Mile
3. Drop a line and enjoy some great fishing at hotspots all
around the lakes.
4. Visit Raymond Island and walk or cycle the Koala Trail.
5. Enjoy great local wine and food at any number of top-notch
eateries in Bairnsdale, Metung, Paynesville or Nicholson
Getting There …..
The Gippsland Lakes are located approximately 300-kilometres east of Melbourne, about a 3½-hour drive via the M1 Freeway and the Princes Highway.
Staying There …..
There is a vast amount of quality accommodation and other tourist facilities available throughout the Gippsland Lakes and surrounding region with comprehensive details and booking facilities available on the Lakes Entrance Visitor Information Centre website at www.visiteastgippsland.com.au
Alternatively, pay the Centre a visit at 2 Marine Parade Lakes Entrance, telephone them on 1800 637 060 or (03) 5155 1966 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunset on Steamer Landing, a very popular overnight stop for boaties on the Gippsland Lakes. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media