Laanercoorie is a reservoir built in the late 1800's on the Loddon River, and is situated in an area once called the Charlotte Plains Run. The word itself is believed to be derived from an Indigenous word Ladnagoorie; meaning 'a long waterhole'. Crossing the Loddon River used to be by a punt below the first constructed bridge, which was washed away in 1909. Floods broke the bank of the reservoir, so the dam wall was increased in height by 3 feet, lifting the capacity to 700 million cubic feet of water. Sir John Monash had a second bridge constructed which still stands to the south of the reservoir. The area is a treasure trove of activities. You can enjoy fishing, canoeing, camping, walking, bike riding, water skiing, swimming and river front camping and caravaning.
The best places to make a base are; the Laanecoorie Lakeside Park situated at the Weir. The park has an adventure playground, camp kitchen, full sports area for; soccer, basketball, and volley ball. There is a BBQ area with a pizza oven (every time I write about food, my diet suffers), spit roast oven, and recreation room. Accommodation choices include delux en-suite cabins, en-suite cabins, 4 bedroom house, long term holiday sites, powered and un-powered sites. You can even hire a little pedal buggy or go-kart for the kids. They also provide laundry facilities, a small general store and gas bottle swap overs. For rates and full information see their website.
The Loddon River passes a camp ground at the remaining second and remaining old bridge. There are amenities, a boat ramp and there is camp with enough space for at least a dozen vans and camp sites. Fees are aid to the caretaker behind the old general store. The river is generally quite wide and slow running.
There are free bush camps toward the northern end. If you have passed the Laanecoorie Tourist Park on the left on the Eddington - Laanecoorie Road, proceed past Ankers Causeway, and a few more kilometers further on the left is the end of the Eddinton - Tarnagulla Road. Turn left here, and left again for 2 wheel drive access, and straight ahead is 4 wheel drive access. There are no facilities at all here.
A bush camp at the northern end of the reservoir, a peaceful spot.
The water levels are still down currently, so after a kilometer or more, which is just past Anker's Causeway, follow the treeline in an arc to the right, then cross to the left side near the thicket of small trees situated on the right-hand side. After 200 or 300 hundred meters, middle the channel between dead trees, marking the original river course as the reservoir narrows. You will run aground on mud flats if you stray from the original deeper channel. This will be a problem until good rains increase the water level.
This is the lowest I have seen the reservoir in about 5 years of paddling. If you try going behind the islands and continue up the Loddon, you will find plenty of log jams until you cannot proceed. As it is, the length of the reservoir and back is about 10 or 12 kilometers. Summer evenings as the sun sets are just magic, and the birdlife nesting in the dead trees will add to it all. The resevoir is visited by large flocks of cormorants, ducks and several pelicans sit half way along on an island. Sea eagles sit on the branch of a tree just before Anker's Causeway or 500 meters further on the left-hand side. They seem to have a favored lookout. The galahs will screech at you when you pass their roosting tree! Cockatoos, corellas, green rosellas, wedgetail eagles and hawks also make an appearance.
The water skiers mainly use the lake in the warmer months, other than that, a few fishermen are there on occasions, otherwise it is a quiet and tranquil place to lose yourself. I see plenty of large fish away from the fisherman, they like the shallow water near the many dead trees. They take off with a splash, it appears a kayak does not disturb them until you are on top of them.
Whichever end you favor, it is a quiet haven and surrounded by so many interesting places and activities. The local towns beckon a visit for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the streets lined with heritage buildings. There are wineries, walks, and bike trails nearby. The Waanyarra Cemetry is an interesting insight into the perils of life during the 'Gold Rush' and Morton's Inn and Sheep Shearing shed for 'a sleep, mow 'n' go', is located a few kilometers further along the track. That might be another subject for another day.