Croajingolong National Park
Croajingolong National Park sweeps along the far south-east corner of Victoria for 100 kilometres. This is one of the state’s largest parks, outstanding for its stunning wilderness coastline and a wealth of ﬂora and fauna that has earned it a prestigious UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve listing. For those wanting to get a little off the beaten track, Croajingolong is the perfect retreat.
Offering a landscape of majestic forests, salt-pruned heathland, delicate wildﬂowers in spring and summer and both cool and warm temperate rainforest, this is a remarkably diverse environment. Towering sand dunes back magniﬁcent beaches with rocky headlands and bulbous granite outcrops. Plant and animal life ﬂourish. The park is a precious conservation area, but it is also a marvellous place to explore the waterways by canoe, to swim in the still rivers, ﬁsh from the sandy shores and walk through rugged bushland to expansive beaches and peaceful coves.
At the time of writing, roads and tracks throughout Croajingolong National Park had been damaged due to flooding and fallen trees, making them dangerous or inaccessible; contact Parks Victoria for more information.
From Melbourne via Princes Hwy then turn off to Mallacoota from Genoa, or other access roads between Cann River and NSW border; roads to Wingan Inlet, Mueller Inlet and Shipwreck Creek are unsealed; roads may be closed after heavy rain
Summer for watersports, swimming, beach walks
450 km east of Melbourne; 6 km from Mallacoota; 100 km south-east of Orbost; 500 km south of Sydney (NSW)
- PV 13 1963
- PV Mallacoota (03) 5161 9500
Permit needed for Wilderness Coast Walk; contact PV Mallacoota (03) 5161 9500
87 500 ha
Cann River (03) 5158 6351
Mallacoota (03) 5158 0219
Featured Activities in the National Park
Head for Mount Everard Lookout for 360-degree views of the shimmering ocean and magniﬁcent countryside
Walk from secluded Wingan Inlet to the placid waters of Elusive Lake
Climb the spiral staircase to the top of historic Point Hicks Lighthouse
Paddle a canoe on the clear waters of Mallacoota Lakes
Take your binoculars for some serious birdwatching
- Back to nature, Croajingolong National Park, Back to nature
- Croajingolong National Park, Eco-friendly activity
- Croajingolong National Park, Kayaking, Kayaking
- Croajingolong National Park, Recreational Wildlife-watching, Recreational Wildlife-watching
A look at the past
As Captain Cook’s Endeavour approached the continent in 1770, Point Hicks was the ﬁrst point sighted. A distinctive red granite lighthouse was built on tiny Gabo Island in 1862 and another at Point Hicks in 1890; today, visitors can tour these heritage buildings. Sealing ﬂourished brieﬂy along the coast but by the 1820s the seals had been almost wiped out. Pastoralists took up property in the district, but land around Mallacoota and Wingan Inlet was set aside in 1909 as a reserve, safeguarding the important ecosystems from destruction.
When Cook sailed past in 1770, the Bidwell people occupied this stretch of coastline. They netted for bream and collected shellﬁsh and crustaceans, and shell middens around Mallacoota date from around 2500 years ago. The park name is derived from ‘Krauatungalung’, the name of the tribe whose clans spread over the whole East Gippsland area. Descendants of the original inhabitants retain links with the district and the park.
One of the park’s most distinctive features is its wilderness coast, with inlets, estuaries and the sprawling landlocked lakes around Mallacoota. Dense coastal heathland and forest cover the terrain, with pockets of rainforest.
More than 1000 native plant species have been recorded, including rare ferns, 90 different orchids and numerous threatened species. Impressive old-growth forests contain huge ﬂowering bloodwood and giant honey-myrtle. In spring and early summer wildﬂowers bring a brilliant ﬂash of colour to the normally sombre green hues.
The Gippsland waratah, with its spidery red blooms (October to December), is a native of the region. It grows alongside creeks, in wet eucalypt forest and cool rainforest. It is often present as an understorey plant in wet sclerophyll forest but also appears as a mature rainforest tree.
Croajingolong is a haven for wildlife, with as many as 52 mammal and 26 reptile species recorded. In particular, the many hollow-bearing trees provide a refuge for signiﬁcant numbers of possums, yellow-bellied gliders and bats. Goannas and eastern water dragons sun themselves on warm stones along the edge of streams, and eastern grey kangaroos and wallabies can often be sighted. Offshore, fur-seals and dolphins are often cavorting in the water, and whales pass this way on their migratory journey north between May and July.
Birdlife is proliﬁc with more than 300 species inhabiting the park. Eagles and falcons swoop above the coastal heathlands; lorikeets and cockatoos feed in the woodlands and forest; the threatened ground parrot forages in the heath; and 40 species of migratory seabirds and waders ﬂock to the wetlands.
Walking, ﬁshing, watersports and wildlife-watching are the prime activities, with local operators running some excellent guided activities.
Launching ramps for boats are located at Bemm River, Tamboon Inlet, Mallacoota and Gipsy Point. Much of the boating takes place around the Mallacoota Lakes, with its 320 kilometres of shoreline. Boat hire, and ﬁshing and cruise trips can be organised at Mallacoota.
Croajingolong is a delight for bushwalkers of all grades. Around Wingan Inlet, head to Elusive Lake (6 km, 2 hours return) through banksia woodland, dotted with wildﬂowers in spring. Wingan River Rapids walk (5 km, 2½ hours return) winds through fern gullies to the river, then upstream to cascading rapids; in summer, deep fresh water pools offer cool relief. Wingan Inlet Nature Trail (3 km return, 1 hour) follows the boardwalk through banksia and coast wattle, then sand dunes, to the beach. There are lovely views and great birdwatching (especially black swans, pelicans and wading birds). Shipwreck Creek to Sale Creek walk (6 km, 2 hours return) leads through coastal vegetation to the beach and rock pools to explore. The walk to Genoa Peak, which is 490 metres above sea level (4 km, 2 hours return) leaves from the carpark west of Genoa and is worth it for sensational views. It is a moderate ascent, but the last section is a steep climb up steel ladders. On all the walks, always carry drinking water. Collect detailed walking notes from Parks Victoria.
For those seeking a more challenging wilderness experience, the Wilderness Coast Walk (100 km) threads its way from Sydenham Inlet to Wonboyn in the Nadgee Nature Reserve in New South Wales. It passes through unspoiled countryside and pristine beaches, with remote campsites along the way. A permit is required (see Fact File).
Canoeing and sea-kayaking
The park’s rivers and inlets provide some of the best calm-water canoeing in Australia, while sea-kayaking lets you cruise the coast, and possibly glimpse seals and dolphins up close.
There is surf-ﬁshing, and boat ﬁshing in the rivers and estuaries, with estuary perch, black bream, sea mullet, whiting and tailor the likely catches for anglers.
Just 500 metres offshore from the park, on windswept Gabo Island, stands the 47-metre-high lighthouse erected in 1862. Short-tailed shearwaters and little penguins nest in huge numbers on the island. Visitors can stay in the assistant lighthouse keeper’s residence, or tour the lighthouse. Access is by boat or light plane from Mallacoota and bookings must be made well ahead; contact Parks Victoria at Mallacoota (03) 5158 6351. Two lighthouse keeper’s cottages at Point Hicks also offer accommodation and there are daily tours of the imposing lighthouse; contact Parks Victoria (03) 5158 4268.
The rivers and inlets provide the safest venues for swimming. Beaches are beautiful but the coast is remote and there can be strong currents.
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