A Weekender's Guide to the Gippsland Lakes for Water Lovers
October 19, 2017
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Just a three-hour drive from Melbourne is a region so picture-perfect you'll find it hard to believe you're still in Victoria and not in some fictional fantasy land. Welcome to Gippsland — home to vast lakes, the world's third longest beach and a host of seaside towns and lakeside villages. It's been described as a water lover's paradise and with more water-based activities than you could poke an oar at, it's a pretty apt depiction.
Whether it's a wintry getaway with beach views and seafood galore or two days of fun in the sun, you can easily fill a weekend in Gippsland no matter the time of year. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the picturesque area.
EAT AND DRINK
To begin your day, Metung has some of the best offerings around. Stop by Effloresce Flowers and Cafe for a coffee paired with a freshly baked scone, cake or slice. The tiny space is part-cafe, part-florist, so you can even pick up a bouquet on your way out. Across the road is Nautica Restaurant serving some of the best seafood around. Enjoy a leisurely brunch on the boardwalk or indulge in a lunchtime feast of fresh scallops as you look out over the sandy peninsula. If you're lucky, you might even spot a dolphin. The restaurant also stocks beers from local brewery Sailor's Grave, a perfect pair with the fare.
If you're after a different view of the water, head over to Paynesville for a meal at Pier 70 overlooking Raymond Island. Nab a seat on the sunny deck and dig into a selection of modern Australian dishes. With seafood straight from the surrounding water, we'd recommend opting for something freshly caught like the gummy bouillabaisse with clams, mussels, potato, tomato, snow peas, radish and sesame seeds. The seafood is equally as fresh and delicious in nearby Lakes Entrance at Ferryman's Seafood Cafe, an ex-Raymond Island car ferry. The restaurant floats in Victoria's largest fishing port so you'll definitely have the best produce around. With a menu that's almost exclusively seafood paired with some of the best local beer, wine and cider around, you can't go wrong.
When evening comes, look to a bistro meal with a beer on the deck of the Metung Hotel. The iconic pub offers views of the bay and is the perfect spot to satisfy your classic fish and chip cravings as you watch the sun set over the water. A little further up the Ninety Mile Beach you'll find the recently redeveloped Seaspray Surf Life Saving Club also offering pub grub and views overlooking the world's third longest stretch of beach.
If you find that you can't choose between beach and lake, you can have the best of both worlds at the Lake Tyers Waterwheel Beach Tavern. Overlooking both Lake Tyers and the iconic beach, the tavern offers contemporary bistro dining and a spacious bar where you can grab a beer or two to enjoy on the deck.
Gippsland Lakes offers the perfect occasion to finally learn to surf. The Surf Shack in Lakes Entrance offers two-hour surf and stand up paddleboard (SUP) lessons from $50. And on top of being a water lover's paradise, Gippsland is also excellent for the nature lovers and adventurers among us. Home to an array of exotic flora and fauna, Ninety Mile Beach is a great spot for whale, dolphin, seal and even cuttlefish-spotting as you walk along the sand. You also may spot some weird and wonderful sponges and soft coral. If you want to get up close and personal with the marine life, Metung is your town. Hire a sea kayak and start paddling; you may even pick up some dolphin friends along the ride.
If you prefer your wildlife land-based, you can also jump on the free ferry from Paynesville to the tiny Raymond Island, home to Victoria's largest koala population. Wander the island's Koala Trail on foot or by bike as you count the snoozing creatures in the treetops. Head back over to the mainland, and take a drive out to the Mitchell River Silt Jetties, a series of landforms that reach far into the water. To soak up the natural beauty, the jetties are best experienced by bike or on foot.
There are countless other activities to fill your days — hire a boat and cruise off into the lakes or simply drop a line into the ocean at Golden Beach. Afterwards, jump back in the car and head along Shoreland Drive until you reach the Trinculo Shipwreck only six kilometres away. The shipwreck is a short walk through sandy bushland with a view that's well worth it. If the sea feels like your second home (and you're into extreme kitch) you can also stop by the Griffiths Sea Shell Museum, which more than 90,000 shells and sea creatures call home. Don't miss the special coral reef room displaying hundreds of corals under special lighting.
If it's a back to basics getaway you're after, consider staying at Shoreline Drive on the Ninety Mile Beach. Just a hop, skip and a jump from the seaside village of Seaspray, this campground boasts 65 pitches right on the beach. It fills up in summer and bookings aren't available, but if you miss out you can always try one of the other 20 free camping areas along the stretch.
Not interested in rugged living? Just down the road is the Seaspray Caravan Park, which offers a selection of camping options (featuring flushable toilets). The park offers stays in retro timber camping pods located close to a camp kitchen and camping amenities. You'll still need to pack for a camping trip but your dwellings will be a little more permanent and (equally as Instagrammable).
If you really want to get back to nature though, book a room at Jetty Road Retreat, situated between Lakes Entrance and Metung. A little off the beaten track, these four two-bedroom self-contained units offer stunning lake views, a private jetty and an open fire pit. This tranquil retreat allows you to truly disconnect from the digital world.
A little closer to civilisation, but equally as self-contained, is Captain's Cove Resort in Paynesville, which offers 18 bright and beautiful apartments overlooking the water. Nestled between lush gardens and the water, Captain's Cove puts you right in the centre of activity. Another option is the breathtaking McMillans of Metung, which combines the luxury of a resort with all the comforts of home. Select either a cottage or spa villa and soak up views of the perfectly manicured lawns and the nearby lakes. With a day spa, outdoor pool and full tennis court, you'll find it hard to venture outside the resort at all.
Images: Visit Victoria.
Discover more of Gippsland here.
Published on October 19, 2017 by Ashleigh Whitehill