PAGE 86 I LAKES COAST VISITOR GUIDE *+%! & *+%! "&% (#,# ( % +*# &$ + . & *) &( #( & # % '+#( #, & ( +-+(. CRUISES ON THE GIPPSLAND LAKES The Gippsland Lakes constitute the largest navigable inland waterway in Australia, so it’s no surprise that boaters flock from all over the world to experience this natural wonder. If you and your family or friends have a love of anything aquatic then the vast Gippsland Lakes is the place to visit. The major bodies of water - Lakes Wellington, Victoria and King - cover 320 kilometres of shoreline and encompass 340 square kilometres. Holiday beside the water, or on it, with a vast array of options, for all budgets and desires. Caravan parks, motels, excellent B&B, yachts and cruisers for hire, there’s something for everyone; this area caters for all budgets. You’ll find many peaceful waterside parks for taking the kids to play, for picnics, or dropping a line from the jetty. From the gateway of Bairnsdale you can head to Paynesville, Metung, Lakes Entrance and beyond. Bring your boat or hire one as there many boat ramps catering for all size boats, mooring facilities, bait shops and boating services at the ready. Exploring all the inlets, rivers, arms and lakes of this incredible system needs to be done at a leisurely pace to truly appreciate the natural beauty. Imagine anchoring overnight at Barrier Landing or Bunga Arm where you’ll be lulled to sleep with the crashing of the surf just over the dunes and waking up in the tranquil water in this little slice of Fill your ‘sails’ with clean Gippsland air paradise. Or anchor for lunch or a peaceful night in one of the many inlets such as Boxes Creek, Newlands Arm or Duck Arm. Drop a line and catch a fish for lunch or drop yourself into the water for an invigorating dip. As you the explore the many islands in the Gippsland Lakes National Park. You will see kangaroos and native birds and on Raymond Island off Paynesville, a special treat are the easily accessible koalas. Fishing on the lakes and from their shores brings anglers to the region again and again. Try any spot on the public jetties, foreshore or out in a boat to catch a flathead, garfish, tailor (skipjack), mullet, luderick or bream. The rivers feeding this vast lakes system also offer ideal fishing spots that are easy to access and safe. Chat to a local for some tips. Water skiing and jet skiing are popular on this great expanse of water (but make sure you respect the laws and stay safe). Perhaps the best way to discover the wonders of the Gippsland Lakes is on the water, whether you bring your own boat, hire one or take a chartered cruise run by local operators. DOLPHIN ENCOUNTERS Be accompanied by a pod of Burrunan dolphins as you ply your way through the waters of Lake Victoria and Lake King. Take care when handling any vessel on the water, especially boats and jet skis, as you may inadvertently injure marine life or dolphins. In fact there are strict regulations around interaction between people and the Burrunan dolphins in these Lakes. If you are on a boat you must not go within 100 metres of the dolphins. On a jet ski you must not go within 300 metres. Even with unpowered vessels like kayaks and stand-up paddleboards let the dolphins come to you, do not go towards them. Coming too close or changing direction to cut in front of the dolphins or into the pod can impact significantly on the dolphins’ wellbeing including interrupting their sonar communications and hunting. Be on the look out and be excited to see these wonderful animals, but respect their home. Finally, if you have a fish finder or other sonar device, please turn it off when you are around the dolphins.