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Melbourne to Lakes Entrance
4 hours / 318 kms Driving to Lakes Entrance via Gippsland is an easy journey with some nice towns along the way.
It would be easy to include a visit to Dargo in the Victorian High Country and maybe do some camping or drive down to one of our favourite places, Wilsons Promontory and stay a few days either on the way on on the return trip.
The Inland Lakes and waterways of this part of Victoria have been family destinations for generations of Aussies. What is there not to love about the place? Long golden beaches, fabulous fishing in the lakes and rivers, boating holidays and beautiful bushland.
A huge variety of accommodation options can be found or travellers can free camp in some areas nearby (use the WikiCampsAU app).
Find the best deals for accommodation in Lakes Entrance with Hotels Combined
Raymond Island and Koala Spotting
On the way to the Lakes, or the return, definitely, make enough time to visit Raymond Island. A little ferry runs back and forth from the gorgeous little village of Paynesville. Either take your car or simply go across and do a walking tour or ride bikes.
It is a short drive from the highway to reach this area and yet it has such a different feel. Plenty of cafes and restaurants, boat cruises and places to moor for those people with boats.
The island is just 6 km by 2 km in size with a population of around 500. Holiday homes can be rented and a Koala Walk arts from where the ferry comes in. The trail is well marked and signage along the way gives an insight into the history of the koalas and the island itself.
In the 1920’s koalas were almost wiped out in Victoria due to logging and land clearing. Some were relocated to islands where they have increased in numbers and are now a tourist attraction. Purchase the little $2 information book on arrival as it has some super stories and photos of the koala population and management.
Read a great article about visiting Raymond and seeing the koalas by Bec from Wyld Family Travel.
Raymond Island Ferry
The little ferry is free for foot passengers and a nominal charge for taking a vehicle across. It only takes a few minutes to reach the other side. Check the latest prices and timetables here.
Unless staying on the Island, there is really no need to take a car over, hop on the ferry and walk…
Lakes Entrance to McKillops Bridge – 2 hours 15 minutes/ 137 kms
This drive is definitely at the top of the list of most dangerous public roads in Australia. If not at the very top. It is an incredible drive on an unmade public road (C611) through some of the best mountain scenery in the state. Sealed for some of the way until getting beyond Buchan (famous for the Buchan Caves) and then heading along the most hair-raising section down into the valley and across the famous McKillops Bridge which spans the Snowy River.
Originally constructed in 1931/32 and thought to be indestructible, the bridge was washed away after unusually heavy rains, just 11 days prior to the official opening in January 1934. The steel framework was a twisted pile of metal in the river below, work quickly began to reconstruct the bridge and the pylons were raised a further 5 metres. So far so good… the bridge still spans the mighty Snowy River.
There is some free camping nearby and easy access to the river is from the northern side of the bridge. Canoe and rafting trips are a popular activity as well as fishing. What did we do there?… we just swam in the Snowy River, taking in the beauty of the area and the amazing sight of the 255-metre long bridge.
Travel Times along McKillops Bridge Road
The round trip from Lakes Entrance to McKillops Bridge and then back via Orbost is nearly 6 hours and just over 341 kms. It is definitely worth breaking up the journey with a stop in Buchan or camping in the Snowy River National Park.
- Much of the road has very steep drop-offs to one side and rock face to the other.
- Some sections are single lane with a few passing places and blind corners.
- It can be very dangerous, do not drive in winter or when there has been/or is going to be heavy rains.
- Do not take trailers or caravans, not even motorhomes as you may need to reverse up if meeting another vehicle coming the other way.
Accommodation in Buchan
Buchan is a good base to stay if planning to drive this way as it is a long, winding drive from Lakes Entrance.
Heading along the most dangerous section of the McKillops Road, I was only slightly apprehensive, with our teenage daughter for company, looking down into the valley with no safety barrier beside the narrow road. The ‘what-if’ thoughts started, even though I have driven Europe in Winter and also solo through Central America, this is the only road that gave me a momentary shiver down the spine. It was only a brief moment though as the drive was so breathtaking with mountain scenery and wildlife.
After reaching the bridge, our 13-year-old daughter asked when we’d be getting to the scary section! She was on the side where the road dropped away and thought nothing of it.
Heed the warnings stated above and any signs along the way if you plan to explore this area. It can be done in a 2-wheel drive car as it is a public road.
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