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This stretch of your route takes you across the state border and into Victoria. You’ll pass through great expanses of beautiful national parks, pristine coastal environments featuring massive sand dunes and some of the longest beaches in the world, crossing over beautiful rivers and lagoons before arriving at the Gippsland Lakes, the largest inland waterway in the country.
East of the highway, half an hour south of Eden, you’ll find Wonboyn Lake, a very special place that will enamour you with its crystal blue waters, spectacular scenery and succulent oysters and mussels.Your gateway into Victoria is through the beautifully impressive Croajingolong National Park, classified by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve, that stretches from the foothills of the Great Dividing Range to the ocean. Under its massive canopies is a diverse and pristine range of ecosystems and unique flora and wildlife, all wrapped in magnificent scenery. Along the dramatic, rocky coastline, forming the very edge of this mighty continent, are dozens of secluded sandy beaches.
The first township you come to on the coast is Mallacoota, one of the most isolated towns in Victoria. Surrounded by the magnificent wilderness of national parks and nature reserves, its peaceful beauty and mild climate makes it a popular year-round coastal destination. The nearby waterways of Top Lake, Bottom Lake, their many inlets, surrounding cliff faces and the coast’s sandy beaches all provide brilliant places to explore, sail around, fish or just soak up the tranquil beauty of the big sky sunsets.To enjoy some quality time exploring the many stunning natural attributes of Croajingolong, Lind and Coopracambra National Parks, stay in Cann River, which is central to all of them. From here you can easily access the massive sand dunes and secluded beaches at Point Hicks, visit the historic lighthouse, canoe the rivers, fish off the beach, snorkel, or go birdwatching. The secluded estuary of Wingan Inlet is also popular with campers and is ideal for small boats, kayaks and canoes.
Next stop is Marlo, a quiet holiday village where you can enjoy some luck fishing from the beach. You can stay in a cabin or in your own tent at the Cape Conran Coastal Park, from where you’ll enjoy exploring its sandy beaches and rock pools or taking in the view from cliff top lookouts. While there you can use the self-guided Cape Conran Nature Trail and the magnificent Dock Inlet and Pearl Point day walks that take you through the coastal heathlands. Along the way you can look out for dolphins and seals playing in the ocean.
At Nowa Nowa take time to go inland to see the amazing Buchan Caves Reserve. There are daily tours of these spectacular, 400 million year old limestone formations. Royal Cave features calcite-rimmed pools and Fairy Cave features elaborate stalactites and stalagmites. Both caves are dramatically lit, have safe walkways and are at a constant temperature of 17 degrees. If you prefer an above ground adventure you can go river rafting or on a horse ride across the Snowy River high country.Lakes Entrance is where the great Gippsland Lakes pour into the ocean. The five main lakes and four rivers have created the largest inland waterway system in the Southern Hemisphere. This massive convergence of fresh and sea waters is a perfect breeding ground and home to a fantastic range of marine life, which has made this place the fishing capital of Victoria. Being sheltered from the rough southerly ocean swells by the magnifi cent crescent of Ninety Mile Beach, the Gippsland Lakes are an ideal location for all forms of water based fun and sport, and exceptional fishing.
West of the Entrance is the picturesque holiday village of Metung where you can enjoy an exhilarating sail across the broad blue reaches of Bancroft Bay, then enjoy a meal with a water view at one of the fine dining restaurants or local pubs. Afterwards take a stroll through the galleries showing the works of resident artists.Lying within the Gippsland Lakes, Raymond Island and Rotamah Island provide ideal environments for wildlife watching. Raymond Island has a large population of koalas which can be seen easily, perched up in their gum trees. They’re kept company by an abundance of fellow native creatures including kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and lizards.
Just to the west of the lakes is Bairnsdale, a small city and regional capital with wide, tree-lined streets and award-winning gardens. Established as an inland port, Bairnsdale has now spread out along the banks of the Mitchell River. The town’s skyline is dominated by the tower of St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, whose impressive exterior is matched by the extraordinary painted dome and interiors. Eagle Point is also worth a visit to see the remarkable Mitchell River silt jetties that extend eight kilometres out into Lake King.