Lakes Entrance (Vic) to Eden (NSW) – Day 17 of Road Trip March 2020

Sunday 22nd March 2020

Driving distance approximately  255klm /  160mi

See the source image

Lakes Entrance is yet another pretty coastal town. This one is distinguished by its long, straight stretch called “Ninety Mile Beach“, and behind that is a long channel called “Cunninghame Arm“, and then more internal waterways lead to the Gippsland Lakes system.

Lakes Entrance Map - Hotels Accommodation Victoria

We began our morning with a walk along The Esplanade, the main street running parallel to Cunninghame Arm Inlet. Marinas and foreshore on one side, shops, restaurants and accommodation on the other. All down its length the RSL (Returned and Services League) has installed wooden sculptures “honouring the memory of First World War dead and injured”.

It took a bit of digging, but I found the artist, John Brady, is a Gippsland local who is handy with a chainsaw. As a result of winning the English Open Chainsaw Carving competition in 2005, his sculpture of Don Bradman now stands at an English cricket ground – but I couldn’t find out which one.

The six Lakes Entrance sculptures are carved from the trunks of the original Cypress trees that were planted as an Avenue of Honour to the fallen WW1 servicemen. By 1998, the trees were becoming a safety hazard. Now they continue the commemoration, albeit in an altered form.

The sculptures represent a WW1 soldier, Edith Cavell, Simpson & his donkey, Simpson (?) helping a wounded soldier, a merchant seaman, and a family waiting for their father.

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We turned our attention to the marina. Lakes Entrance lays claim to having the largest fishing fleet in Victoria. A small portion of the catch finds its way to direct sales. Lots of recreational fishers, charters, and other boats also call this marina home. The floating seafood restaurant in our photo had already decided to close.

Opportunistic cormorants wait in hope . . .

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Lakes Entrance Marina Views Coastguard

You want to hope you never need these guys

Retracing our path along The Esplanade, we came to a footbridge which crosses Cunninghame Arm, and links the town centre with the beach. Various walks on this narrow land peninsula lead along scenic coastline and bush, and up to Flagstaff Lookout for a view over the man-made entrance into the Gippsland Lakes. (The green bit in the above map is the peninsular, and the gap is the entrance).

On the beach side of the footbridge is the Surf Club and a kiosk and several directional signs for the walks. At first we didn’t venture any further than for a look at the beach, which is still being patrolled, I guess until after the Easter holidays (remembering it’s autumn here). As the Surf Lifesaving site advises “The most important flags on the beach are the red and yellow flags. These show the supervised area of the beach and that a lifesaving service is operating. If there are no red and yellow flags, you should not go swimming.” For many years Bill was a volunteer lifesaver. In the days when they wore a little red and yellow skull cap, a pair of “budgie smugglers” and nothing else. He is paying now for all that sun exposure.

Beach Flags at Lakes Entrance

Everyone dressed for the beach in autumn clothes 🙂

The black and white flags are a signal for the surfers. They must stay outside where they are placed. The interim zone between red/yellow and black/white is the “safety” zone.

As well as the watchtower, lifesavers set up on the beach, ready to swing into action . . .

Lifesavers on the beach

surf watchtower

I was not the first to wander past the choppy waters of Bass Strait today.

choppy waters at Lakes Entrance

The concept of social distancing had only been announced about thirty hours before. I got into conversation with three Melbourne ladies who’d come for a weekend visit. We had no trouble standing in a square at the recommended distance. Bill, on the other hand, was talking to a local man in his mid-eighties. Every day he sits in a sunny spot at the beach as a short break from caring for his wife. He’s seen a lot of life. At the end of the chat, he wanted to shake our hands. He was a bit taken aback that I declined. It was all pretty new back then.

We didn’t intend to do one of the longer walks, but we did take a little bush track that led from the surf club to the shore of Cunninghame Arm. It must have been low-tide, as we were able to pick our way along to the base of the footbridge. It was a different world on this side of the peninsula. I think the wading birds are some type of Oystercatcher.

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Being in a fishing hot-spot, we’d asked the local his recommendation for fish and chips and he sent us to a take-away called Fish-a-Fare. I can’t remember the last time I had fried fish this good! I couldn’t decide between whiting and gummy (shark), so we bought a piece of each and they were both delicious. The fish was extremely fresh, and the batter was spot on. I don’t usually write about what we eat – so you know this was exceptional.

We ate outside at a park bench, under the watchful eye of a few seagulls, but they didn’t bother us. Back in the car, settling into the passenger seat, dodging handbag, maps and other clutter on the floor, I couldn’t find my mobile phone. Bill was about to drive off – ‘cos you just know what the inside of a lady’s handbag looks like, when I had a “premonition”, which turned out correct. I’d thrown it into the garbage bin along with all the lunch wrappings. I needed Bill’s longer arms to get it back out again.

It was time to head on to Eden, our destination for the night. Back at the fish and chip shop, we’d accepted a packet of breakfast muesli as a freebie. It was part of a stack that were unused donations from the recent bushfires and nearing use-by date. In the previous post I wrote about the evacuation of Mallacoota, (which you can find on the above map), but it’s a lot to take in that this entire coastline from Lakes Entrance, to Eden, and then for town after town north was on fire.

Now, driving north, there were reminders everywhere we looked of how fierce these fires were. Long stretches of bushland completely burnt out, exposing the blackened trunks of the tall eucalyptus trees. It was so weird to be able to see the topography of the land, its rise and fall, and space between the trees. Until being exposed like this, I wouldn’t even have thought the trees grew straight. Usually everything is a tangle. Regularly along the route, road gangs were cuttings the trees closest to the road. Probably because their weakened structure was liable to collapse without warning.

Burnt forest on the way to Eden

Burnt trunks

Despite the devastation, regrowth was everywhere.

regrowth palms

regrowth trees

Seeing the multi-branched trees looming up ahead, tree after tree, each branch covered in new green shoots, was another weird sight. They almost looked like they were dressed for Christmas. Hope this gives you some idea.


Crossing the border into New South Wales, we began to see many logging trucks. The woodchip mill at Eden is a vital employer in this small town of 3000. It, too, was a victim of the bushfires, and is slowly re-building. “Axeman’s Track” must have caught my eye for me to take a photo of the SatNav map.

Axeman's Track

We chose a motel in the centre of town, owner operated. Her ‘house had been totally destroyed in the fires’, she told me. She, her mother and grandmother were living in the on-site flat, another family member in one of the motel rooms. This is only one of many such personal stories.

After our big lunch, we settled on some “nibblies” from the local supermarket for dinner, so we were in front of the TV when our Prime Minister came on. It’s like a “State of the Nation” talk. The same limits on gatherings  (500 outside / 100 inside), and schools will stay open, but as of tomorrow, many businesses are to close, such as cinemas, gyms, and sporting venues. Pubs and clubs are included. Our son, who works in hospitality, had been expecting this. His partner had already been stood down the day before, next it will be him.

The PM can make these announcements, but, just as in the USA, it is up to the individual state exactly what they will implement. Yet, earlier in the broadcast was the news that South Australia, after recording its 100th case of corona virus – an increase of 33 from the previous day – will close its borders from 4:00pm on Tuesday. Western Australia will do likewise.

“It’s all getting a bit grim,” as my dear old auntie would have said. We had intended to stay two nights at my cousin’s retreat, Lyrebird Lodge, and another two nights loitering in various bush-fire affected towns, doing our bit for their economic recovery. But the situation is becoming too uncertain. We’ve gone past the point of feeling safer travelling than back at home, even though we live in a community of 250 frequent travellers, with an attached aged-care section.

I feel bad about calling our visit off, as my cousin and his partner have spent the day preparing for our arrival, but I’d feel worse if we brought anything into their idyllic hideaway in the foothills of Gulaga (Mount Dromedary). We are all disappointed, but we have made our decision. We’ll allow ourselves a visit to the Maritime Museum in Eden, and then, although it will be another long drive, it is time to go home.

Lyrebird Lodge June 2011

Lyrebird Lodge, near Tilba, NSW


27 thoughts on “Lakes Entrance (Vic) to Eden (NSW) – Day 17 of Road Trip March 2020

  1. Pingback: Lakes Entrance (Vic) to Eden (NSW) – Day 17 of Road Trip March 2020 – Nomadic lifestyle

  2. Lyrebird Lodge looks idyllic. Glad to hear you’re a fan of fish and chips like us. Never heard of gummy – is it actually shark? We have cod and haddock here at chip shops but I recall having snapper when we were in Australia. Lucky you remembered about your phone before you’d driven miles away, hope it wasn’t damaged! What an exciting life you lead ! Take care, Marion

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I wouldn’t call my life exciting, but I try to live it to the full, and am very content with it.
      I am familiar with your cod and haddock (although not much of a fan of smoked versions). Yes, gummy is one variety of shark in our waters – not harmful to humans (rather the other way around) – but it’s the first time I’d seen it sold by that name. Flake and hake are often used in battered fish and they are also shark. White, soft flesh; and the gummy was particularly tasty.
      We had snapper the other night. Pan-fried in butter. Better that way than in batter and fried. But fried whiting and flathead are yummy.
      I think I had some divine guidance about the phone!
      Hope you are keeping well and not missing your continental jaunts too much.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am enjoying reading about your trip, Gwendoline. The cypress carvings are a nice way of keeping the memories going in a new form, even though the trees themselves were at an end.

    I too, feel sad for the elderly man who was not able to shake hands. Things are what they are, though, and this will pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah that was a mixed read – so sad about the elderly chap and the not shaking hands rule and then the optimistic regeneration of the trees – and then the disappointment of letting down your cousin, but I think everybody would agree you made the right call there. And, how considerate and responsible to self isolate for 14 days on your return home. As I write Australia is still definitely one of the ‘successes’ (if you can call it that) at coping with this pandemic. Fingers crossed that it stays that way – we are expecting the announcement later today that we will be in lockdown for a further three weeks, at least. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I heard your three-week announcement this morning. I’m a bit surprised, perhaps it was a comment to mollify the masses. We are yet to get to winter, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking some form of heavy restriction will go on until at least the end of June – which is the end of our financial year, so may be some kind of a decision marker in the economy versus health debate.
      By the way, I’m having a ball at home. I always knew I was an introvert at heart 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never made the transition from film to digital. With my film camera, I was very in tune with the shutter, and often got fabulous photos – especially of animals. I kind of lost interest when we went digital.
      So now I just happy snap and hope for the best.


  5. Another great trip. Sorry to read about Bill’s sun damage. I hope you are both now reasonably safe. I just spent quite a while trying to discover where the Bradman carving is. I should have known that if you couldn’t find it I wouldn’t have much chance. The nearest I got was a reference to ‘one of England’s ovals’, but you probably got that far, too. Maybe the lower case refers to cricket grounds in general – not the Kennington (Now Kia) Oval.

    Liked by 1 person

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