Gippsland Lakes cruises

You’re on a real research expedition, chugging along the water in a small cruiser. Everyone is supplied  with binoculars and a booklet with coloured photos of birds to identify and count. There’s a squeal of  glee as a line of seabirds comes into sight, perched on a rock wall. Your kids eagerly riffle though their  booklets and start to count. In this cruise packed full of excitement and educational opportunities, they  identify more than a dozen birds, learn how to tell the difference between gastropod and bivalve  shells, spot seahorses and help in a research project to find out the best salinity levels to sustain seahorses.

Price range

VARIOUS PRICES

Contact details

Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park; 1800 637 060

Don't Miss

■ The iron hull of the sailing ship Trinculo, wrecked here in 1879, still visible in the sand west of  Delray Beach.

■ Rotamah Island, home to many native waterbirds and wildlife. Kids have fun watching from bird hides.
 
Raymond Island.

Fabulous Facts

The Gipplsand Lakes have the largest concentration of migratory waders in East Gippsland. If you  don’t do the research cruise, bring a bird identification book and see how many birds you can spot.  One of the endangered birds you might see is the little tern which migrates to Rigby Island and Ninety  Mile Beach in September to breed. If you walk on the beach during October, be careful not to step  on their well-camouflaged eggs and nests. The eggs are light brownish grey, with brown and purple  splotches, and the nests are just shallow scrapes in the shell grit.

Insider Tips

■ Gippsland Lakes is the largest expanse of inland waterways in the Southern Hemisphere. It is made  up of Lake Wellington, McLennans Strait, Lake Victoria and Lake King, and joins the waters of Bass  Strait through a man made entrance at Lakes Entrance.

■ The research expeditions are on the Lakes Explorer, (03) 5155 5027 or 0458 511 438; www.lakes-explorer.com.au. They depart Wednesday–Sunday and last about two hours, including island stops. You can take home the bird identification booklets as souvenirs. The minimum age is 4 years.
 
■ Other, less interactive, cruises are offered on the Stormbird, www.lakesentrance.com/cruises/peels-stormbird-cruise.html
 
■ You can hire your own boat to explore the lakes from Bulls Cruisers, 54 Slip Road, Paynesville, (03) 5156 1200; www.bullscruisers.com.au. All the way round you will find islands, villages, parks  and marinas where you can pull up your boat and explore. You can fish in the lakes and keep an eye  out for dolphins and pelicans.
 
■ The lakes are bordered by The Lakes National Park and Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, where  you can camp or go for walks. You can download information brochures from the Parks Victoria  website.
 
■ There are safe swimming sites along the sheltered shores of Bunga Arm.

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