Kevtoberfest #20 Gippsland Lakes
There’s a lot of water at Lakes Entrance. The name of the town in Victoria’s East Gippsland region gives a clue to its watery surroundings – it’s located at the entrance to the Gippsland Lakes. A group of inland waterways covering an area of 600 square kilometres, the lakes are separated from the Southern Ocean by the scrub-covered dunes of Ninety Mile Beach. A man-made channel built in the 1880s connects them with the ocean.
To gain an understanding of the expanse of lakes and ocean, they are best seen first from above. Lookouts along the Princes Highway are perfect vantage points, with sweeping views of the town, waterways and shipping channel. On a clear day, offshore platforms in the oil and gas fields of Bass Strait are visible on the horizon.
Views of the lakes from ground level are just as impressive. At Lake King the calm water is crystal clear, and the opposite shore is a distant smudge between water and sky.
With all this water comes much aquatic activity, both of the human and natural kind. Sailing boats and motorboats make the most of the protected waters inside the dunes.
Fishing boats are moored in the marina after a night’s work at sea.
A model of the paddle steamer Charles Edward stands on the shore of Lake King, a reminder of a time when a day’s journey around the coast brought passengers from Melbourne to East Gippsland in search of gold.
Black swans and pelicans are common and, at the Metung Hotel, they compete for attention at feeding time.
Seagulls gather in the hope of snatching a treat from an unwary tourist’s fish and chips lunch, while rainbow lorikeets are content to feed from grevilleas growing near the water’s edge. Cormorants keep watch in the shallows.
The serenity of the lakes is in complete contrast to the ocean side of the dunes where the Southern Ocean pounds the beaches. At Eastern Beach on the northern end of Ninety Mile Beach the scenery is glorious but the water is deceptive. On windy days, rips and large waves can make swimming dangerous.
It’s best to enjoy the water views from the safety of dry land!