The Gippsland Lakes is one of Australia’s biggest and most beautiful inland waterways and stretches from Sale in the west to Lakes Entrance in the East and includes Lake Wellington, Lake Victoria and Lake King. The port waters also include the lower reaches of the Latrobe, Nicholson , Mitchell and Tambo Rivers. Being a born and bred Gippsland girl many of my childhood memories include day trips to Lakes Entrance, summer days along the Ninety Mile Beach at Seaspray and boat trips at Metung.
Four hours from Melbourne, the beach can be reached from the South Gippsland highway from the towns of Lakes Entrance, Loch Sport, Seaspray and Woodside Beach. Paradise Beach, Golden Beach and Seaspray are names that hint at the beauty of the area with picturesque caravan parks and free camping spots that dot the coast and entice the visitor to visit in every season.
Tip: use Campermate’s maps to filter and find campsites and road trip essentials in Gippsland and beyond.
A cruisy time at Lakes Entrance
Lakes Entrance is the gateway to the largest inland network of waterways in Australia. Fed by five major rivers the lakes area covers about 400km2. As you enter the town from the Melbourne side, the views of the lakes and Bass Strait are truly breathtaking. There are lookouts where you can pull over and view the awesome scenes of the lakes and the man-made access to Bass Strait.
In town there’s plenty of family-friendly activities including mini-golf, the Griffiths Shell Museum, with its colossal range of shells, and the walking bridge that leads to the Ninety Mile Beach. Across the other side of the bridge are paddle boats, canoes, aqua bikes and catamarans for hire. Perhaps the best way to experience the beauty of the lakes is on one of the many cruises available.
There are tours to Wyanga Park Vineyard (the oldest commercial vineyard in Gippsland), two-hour scenic cruises, lunch cruses to nearby Metung and eco cruises aboard the history passenger ferry. The Lonsdale offers brilliant commentaries and the best home-made scones on board. Back on dry land the Fisherman’s Co-op on Bullock Island offers succulent fresh seafood.
Water views at the Lake Tyers Water Wheel and Tavern
Barely ten minutes away is Lake Tyers, the small coastal hamlet and sleepy neighbour to Lakes Entrance. The Water Wheel Tavern is the hub of town, boasting spectacular water views, both from inside and outside on its expansive deck. There’s a great ambience, excellent food and views to die for. Seasonal changes see amazing cycles and the lakes range from calm sandy mudflats and wetlands to the raging torrent of the estuary break out. It’s clear, from past visits there, that this place is both an oasis for travellers and a local favourite for many.
They come in their droves, many of them utilising the services of the tavern’s courtesy bus. For campers, there’s an area out the back and, with free power and water this has got to be one of the best finds in East Gippsland.
Part owner of the tavern is Kevin Campbell who’s a chef by trade. Growing up in nearby Bairnsdale with a love of the sea it’s perhaps understandable he’d end up in a tavern at Lake Tyers. Eight years ago, Kevin bought the tavern, which included the tiny caravan park out the back, and in 2019 he decided to remove the small cabins and convert the space to a free camp area. Across the road there’s the Lake Tyers Caravan Park with views of the lakes and ocean.
Barely five hundred metres away, the spectacular Ninety Mile Beach beckons fishermen and sun lovers.
Paynesville is relaxed, friendly and has plenty to keep the water lover happy. With its location in the middle of the Gippsland lakes, surrounded on three sides by Lake King and Lake Victoria, it’s little wonder Paynesville is known as the boating capital of Victoria.
It’s a place to explore the lakes, adventure to Raymond Island and enjoy the easy access to Lake King and Lake Victoria in the heart of the Gippsland Lakes. Close by is Eagle Point and the famous Mitchell River Silt Jetties. If you’re into boating history check out the Paynesville Maritime Boating Museum.
There are plenty of dining options. Enjoy excellent pub grub and specials at the Paynesville Hotel. For great coffee and all-day breakfasts head to Fig Café and the Wine Bar is perfect for a pre-dinner drink. Along the esplanade there’s Pier 70 with prime waterfront views and across the road sits the award-winning Sardine Eatery and Bar. This one hatted restaurant is one of the top eateries in Gippsland and I can personally testify that every meal is a work of art with our entire meal a gastronomic delight. Make sure you book to reserve a table.
Raymond Island Wildlife Walk
Raymond Island is a short ferry ride from Paynesville, a ferry which runs all day, every day. Leave your car and jump on board, there’s no cost for pedestrians and cyclists and within five minutes you’ll cross the 700 metre McMillan Straight and be on the island. Raymond Island is 6km long by 2km wide, and its biggest attraction is the resident furry koala population. There’s a playground and barbeque facilities close to the ferry landing where you can enjoy a picnic lunch before or after wandering along the well-marked koala trail.
Keep your eyes peeled for lots of wildlife encounters along the way, there are koalas tucked away in many branches and trees and are usually more active early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Still, it’s not unusual to see them munching or curled up, even near the base of trees. Echidnas, rosellas and roos can all be spotted around the island. For those who want to linger there’s beaches and places to swim on the southern side of the island, as well as spots to throw in a line or simply enjoy relaxing on the foreshore.
Meandering into Metung
It would be a shame not to detour into the very pretty village of Metung, a gorgeous spot, either for a coffee break, a short stay or for a few days. Enjoy a meal right on the water at Bankcroft Bay at the Metung Hotel, a historic gem that’s been renovated beautifully with a large front deck and excellent bistro. Next door at the Metung Village Store, you can stock up on East Gippsland’s wines and produce before continuing your delicious exploration of the Gippsland’s lakes.
From June 19 to July 11 the East Gippsland Winter Festival will celebrate all things art, food, music, beer and wine and showcase the region as not just a summer destination but a region for all seasons. The festival will showcase the villages through a series of pop-up events, cultural activities, workshops and an exciting program of events that will stretch right through the region from Bairnsdale to Omeo to Lakes Entrance to Mallacoota.
Here’s a few suggestions for places to stay while exploring the Gippsland region. Tap the below links from your mobile device to see details and read reviews in the CamperMate app.