One thing’s for certain about a short break in Lakes Entrance on the South Gippsland coast in south-eastern Victoria: if you love the water, you’re in for a splash-tastic time. Sitting pretty alongside the narrow channel where Australia’s largest network of inland waterways meets Bass Strait, the opportunities to swim, surf, sail, paddle, kayak, fish, and feast on sensational seafood here are almost endless. The Gippsland region as a whole has been hard hit by the devastating start to 2020, but with all major roads now open and a national call to Aussies to ‘holiday here this year’, this shimmering waterworld is once again ready to welcome travellers.
Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Lakes Entrance.
8am: Fuel up with breakfast
You’re in for a quite an active two days, so get in some complex carbs at Funkey Monkey Café, located just off the Esplanade. The granola with blackberry panna cotta, coconut porridge with poached pear, or the potato rosti with fetta and dukkha will see you powered up.
9am: Do the Entrance Walk
Walk down to the Esplanade and over the Cunninghame Arm Footbridge to the start of the five-kilometre Entrance Walk (see, we said you’d be active!). Ask a local for advice on which way to do the circuit (you’ll want the wind at your back), which will take you past the Entrance and along a section of stunning Ninety Mile Beach. Expect to see plenty of wildlife along the way, including seals and even dolphins offshore.
11am: Enjoy the catch of the day
Lakes Entrance is home to one of the country’s largest fishing fleets, and all that fresh sea air and the taste of salt on your lips may have left you ready to dive into an early lunch of fresh fish and chips. Head along the Esplanade to the floating Ferryman’s Seafood Café. Sitting on what was once a car ferry, the upstairs café offers a menu of piscatorial delights, including zesty black mussels, fish tacos, and a sensational seafood platter. Tip: Hold the dessert (you’re going to need some room for later).
1pm: Cruise the lakes
You’ve had tantalising glimpses of the lakes thus far; now it‘s time to become better acquainted with some of the tranquil waterways within easy reach of town. Head along to Cunningham Quay and join Lonsdale Eco Cruises on a fabulous three-hour afternoon lakes cruise. Pass the Entrance, Rigbys Island, Flannagan Island and the village of Metung. The cruise includes an afternoon tea of freshly baked scones with jam and cream.
5pm: Try a small batch brew
Time for a cleansing afternoon ale at Lakes Entrance’s first brewhouse. Red Bluff Brewers is located about ten minutes’ drive from town and worth the journey to try their range of handcrafted ales in the retro-styled pop up taproom. Try limited edition small-batch brews like the Cow-A-Bunga Milk Stout, or Pear and Rhubarb Sour.
7pm: Dine out in style
Freshen up and step out for dinner at one or the region’s must-try eateries. Albert & Co features a Hamptons-inspired decor, a menu of succulent seafood and meaty mains, and a killer cocktail list. Don’t overdo it. You have an early start!
7am: Fly and glide
The lakes look amazing from the water, but they’re even more stunning from the air. Get the best of both worlds on the Lakes Entrance Helicopters and Venture Out Australia early morning ‘HeliSUP’ tour. You’ll enjoy a scenic flight over the lake system, a landing on Ninety Mile Beach, and a guided stand-up-paddle-board glide back through the Entrance to town. No experience standing upright on a board is necessary.
10am: Get a great coffee
After that early start (not to mention the upper body work out), you’re probably in need of breakfast and a good strong brew. Head to Bloody Good Coffee on the Esplanade and get yourself caffeinated. Stat!
12pm: Step back in time
Do some figurative digging into the past at the Lakes Entrance Regional Historical Society museum in Marine Parade (located just behind the Visitor Information Centre). The museum is open Tuesday mornings and Saturday afternoons, or by appointment (so you’ll probably need to prearrange your visit). The collection includes photos, manuscripts and maps, and provides a fascinating insight into the original construction of the Entrance.
3pm: Admire an ocean of seashells
Also at the western end of town is the Griffiths Sea Shell Museum and aquarium which houses a vast array of marine specimens. See corals, clams, crabs, rare fish, sets of seriously scary shark teeth, and of course, plenty of shells. The gift shop will deck you and your home out in a variety of seaside-inspired jewellery and homewares.
5pm: Do drinks and dinner on the deck
Wrap up your short break with drinks and a relaxed bite to eat at the Waterwheel Beach Tavern (known locally as ‘the Tav’) at beautiful Lake Tyers Beach. Just 15 minutes’ drive from Lakes Entrance, the Tav’s expansive deck takes full advantage of the amazing natural setting. The menu is temptingly diverse, but do not go past the ‘flatty tacos’ (crammed with crumbed Lakes Entrance flathead).
Need a place to stay?
Comfort Inn & Suites Emmanuel boasts a lakefront position in the heart of Lakes Entrance. The hotel is also within easy walking distance of cafes and restaurants and makes the perfect base for exploring everything the Lakes region has to offer.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.