Extraordinary East Gippsland

The Australian state of Victoria is renowned for being compact, by Australian standards, but for being fortunate enough to have areas of great natural beauty in relative close proximity to its capital city, Melbourne.

One of those places which offers peaceful solitude within just a few hours of the bustling Melbourne metropolis is East Gippsland, which is located in the northeast if Victoria, close to the border with New South Wales.

This area allows the casual visitor a choice between rugged alpine country in the fabled Snowy Mountains region or stunning beaches, bays, rivers and lakes which lie further east near the coast.

Bairnsdale is the largest town in the area, and it is a good place from which to begin exploring. Situated on the Mitchell River, which flows into Lake King, Bairnsdale is an attractive regional centre which has wide streets filled with historic buildings, yet containing all the modern conveniences we expect to enjoy in contemporary Australia.

This thriving centre is the beginning, or end, depending on which direction you travel, of the Great Alpine Road, which takes you from the coast to Victoria’s High Country at Omeo, just 122 kilometres away. In winter, you can base yourself at Omeo to enjoy the skiing, and in summer camping and fishing is all the go. The Great Alpine Road is open all year round, but if you find a car too boring the cycling and horse riding may be more your style.

If hugging the coastline is more your thing, then you are spoilt for choice in East Gippsland as the Gippsland Lakes and rivers comprise Australia’s largest inland permanent network of lakes, marshes and lagoons.

The town of Metung is situated on the shores of Lake King and Bancroft Bay. It is home to many artisans who find inspiration from the great natural beauty, and it is also home to flocks of pelicans and other water birds which are attracted by the abundant marine life. One of the best ways to explore this area is by boat, and you can pilot your own vessel or join an organised cruise or fishing charter to catch your own food in the pristine waters.

One of the most popular holiday towns in East Gippsland is Lakes Entrance, which is not only an important fishing port, but offers visitors a good choice between swimming in the calm waters of the lakes or braving the surf along the coastal beaches.

Lakes Entrance is easy to explore by boat or bike, but it is also flat enough for walking to be a breeze here; and with a good footbridge linking the town with the main beach, you soon relax enough to amble along at your own pace, putting the bustle of city life well behind you.

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