Toe-dippers, twitchers, anglers and skippers, wander the Gippsland Lakes. Navigate the water on yacht, cruiser, kayak or skis. Watch for dolphins, koalas, and twitchers' treasures. Scramble over dunes, catch ferries and cast a line. Explore expansive beaches and tiny islands. Take in sunset from the deck of yacht, a restaurant, a bar, or from your camping chair.
These are our eight top reasons to visit the Gippsland Lakes. Take a lucky dip.
Knot your average boating holiday: hire a yacht or a cruiser and skipper the lakes. The lakes are easy to navigate and can make even a novice skipper feel like a seasoned salty. Spend a weekend or a week gently cruising the lakes, racing dolphins, relaxing over sundowners at sheltered moorings, scrambling over the dunes to explore Ninety Mile Beach, or taking a dip in perfect swimming water.
2. Ninety Mile Beach
Rip off your socks and plant your toes in one of the world's longest stretches of sand. The 90-mile long stretch of pristine golden sand lies on the edge of a slender sand dune separating the Gippsland Lakes from Bass Strait, offering a seemingly endless vista of unspoilt beach. Take your rod for beach fishing, binoculars for whale and dolphin spotting, take a dip or a wander. It's the best, by miles.
3. Raymond Island
Everybody loves Raymond Island. The tiny island, accessible only by boat, is home to Victoria's largest koala population. Jump on the free ferry from Paynesville and wander the island's Koala Trail by bike or foot to watch the furry island dwellers doing what they do best: snoozing in the treetops.
4. Rare dolphins
Check out the lakes' flip(per) side. The lakes are home to a population of rare and endangered Burrunan dolphins. They love a rare old time and can be spotted from the beach or boats, playing in the water. For the best chance of reliving your favourite Sandy and Bud moments, take an eco boat cruise, or keep an eye out from at the Lakes Entrance foreshore and from Bullock Island.
Live the bream. Cast a line and enjoy exceptional lake fishing at hotspots around Paynesville, Metung and Lakes Entrance, where bream, flathead, luderick, tailor, and mulloway are common catch. For surf fishing, wander over the dunes and cast a line from Ninety Mile Beach, popular for night fishing in winter.
6. Park life
The land surrounding the lakes is pitch perfect for camping and hiking enthusiasts. Set up base camp in the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park for outdoor adventures: hiking, swimming, kayaking and horse riding. Head to the Lakes National Park for a peaceful bushland retreat fringed by Lake Victoria and Lake Reeve. Here, take your binoculars to Rotamah Island, a twitchers' paradise.
7. Skis and paddles
Ski bunnies, enjoy year-round, head-to-tow fun on the lakes. Find designated waterskiing spots Bunga Arm, Newlands Arm and North Arm, or venture further afield – you can ski most places on the lakes.
Paddlers, launch a canoe, kayak or paddle board from Lakes Entrance or your lakeside campsite for a lazy meander around the lakes.
8. Wine and dine
Fresh flavours come as simple or as fancy as you like. Drop a line for fish from the jetty, relax ocean-side with breakfast at Albert & Co in Lakes Entrance or brunch on local produce in Lindenow's rolling hills at The Long Paddock. Drink in valley views and cool-climate wines at Lightfoot and Son's, or grab a bottle from Nicholson River Winery, popping the top from a picnic rug overlooking the river.
Paynesville hits the gastronomic mark with Vue de Monde-pedigreed chef Mark Briggs in the kitchen at Sardine Eatery & Bar. Show your support for local growers at Northern Ground, a must-sit-and-sip cafe in Bairnsdale.
If you can, plan to visit for Mallacoota's Wild Harvest Seafood Festival in April, a weekend showcase of the region's culinary highlights.