AROUND THE GIPPSLAND LAKES
As a network of marshes, lakes and lagoons throughout the east Gippsland region of Victoria, the Gippsland Lakes are part of Australia’s largest and most visually stunning waterways.
Over 400 square km of waterways make up the region, consisting of clear lakes, fast flowing rivers and ever-popular beaches. Separating the lakes from the ocean are the coastal dunes known as Ninety Mile Beach, though the actual distance is just over 151km (94 miles). In the middle of this extensive system of waterways lies small towns like Paynesville, well known by locals and tourists alike for being the boating capital of Victoria.
The three largest lakes that truly define the area are Lake Wellington, Lake King and Lake Victoria. Several of the most prominent rivers that feed into this water system include the Avon, Latrobe, Thomson, Mitchell, Tambo and Nicholson. An enormous amount of wildlife call these coastal wetlands home, including Burrunum Dolphins, which are unique to the area, both freshwater and saltwater fish and plenty of shorebirds.
Formation and History of the Gippsland Lakes
The Gippsland Lakes were formed in the region through two main natural processes. First, sediments from the river deltas were deposited in the region from the rivers flowing into the ocean, building up the landmass into the world’s largest silt deposits that form enormous jetties which go on for kilometers. Second, the sea current in the Bass Strait cuts off the river deltas from the sea, preventing the sediment from slowly washing back into the rest of the ocean.
Throughout the Gippsland Lakes, water is constantly fighting a battle to make its way into the ocean. The region goes through cycles where water is blocked off until it rises above the levels of the tallest barriers and then breaks through to rejoin the ocean. Once the water levels drop back to sea level, it takes several years for a new channel to form to the same breaking point as the previous one. Oftentimes, these new channels occur in entirely different spots throughout each cycle.
A wall was built in 1889 to stabilize the water level near the Lakes Entrance so that the harbor could be stable enough for commercial fishing boats to come in and out. This entrance is still used today, though it needs to be dredged often to prevent it from filling up with sediment like other parts of the Gippsland Lakes.
Tourists flock every year to the Gippsland Lakes in order to take advantage of the region’s ample opportunities for recreational boating and fishing. Others come to enjoy the quaint towns along the coast, relax on the beaches or enjoy the sight of Burrunum Dolphins jumping and playing around. No matter what your interests are, you’ll be sure to find plenty of ways to enjoy your time at the Gippsland Lakes.
Below are some of the attractions in the area that tourists come to enjoy.
There are plenty of places for tourists to visit along the Gippsland Lakes. With a population of 4,500, Lake Entrance is one of the largest towns along the coast and is filled with resorts, restaurants and gorgeous natural scenery. Metung, a small village along the tip of the Gippsland Lakes peninsula, is another popular tourist destination that is well known for its many art galleries. Paynesville also remains a popular tourist destination, and thousands of people annually flock to Raymond Island to enjoy the sight of the local koala population.
By far, the most popular activity in the Gippsland Lakes is taking a boat out on the water. It doesn’t matter if you prefer cruises, speed boats, jet skis, sailboats or even paddle boards; there are plenty of opportunities for getting right in the action and enjoying the hundreds of kilometers of waterways to explore. The tourist towns along the coastline are also happy to assist you in renting the vessel of your choice in order to help you enjoy the water in your preferred way.
There is an enormous diversity of brine, salt and fresh water in the lakes and beaches around Gippsland Lakes, making it an incredibly diverse place to fish (so long as you stay out of the protected waters!). Dedicated fishermen are likely to haul in some premium flathead, luderick, trevally, mullet and bream.
Formed by the Mitchell River, the Gippsland Silt jetties are a unique geological feature and are the largest extension of silt jetties in the world. You can drive along the edge of the jetties out to Lake King, though the best photo opportunities are at the lookout at Eagle Point Bluff.
Much of the Gippsland Lakes region is protected, including the Lakes National Park and the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Work. Both areas have plenty of opportunities for camping and hiking, and are refuges for hundreds of local plant and animal species, including a number of native orchids.
Many regions of the Gippsland Lakes are designated as protected spaces for wildlife, including Rotamah Island, which is home to kangaroos and wallabies and can only be reached by boat. In the water itself are thriving populations of bottlenose and Burrunan dolphins, and the shorelines provide habitat space for over 20,000 waterbirds, including migratory ones from far away places like Siberia and Alaska.
For the true water lover, the Gippsland Lakes hold tremendous appeal. Whether you like to boat, sail, kayak, bird watch, fish or just stand on shore next to the water, you’ll be sure to find the Gippsland Lakes System to be your ultimate water playground in Victoria.