Re-visit 9: Gippsland Lakes, Southern Victoria

These re-visits remind me how many great places in Australia I have been privileged to visit. The Gippslands Lakes, down around Paynesville and Metung, were fantastic.

If there was any doubt you should always have your camera, even if you are just going for a wee/jimmy riddle behind a bush, this is it. There are dolphins here which are unique to this spot and only found here (sic). They are the Burranan Dolphins, with quite unusual faces with the “nose” coming over the mouth. I was in fact just idly waiting for the return ferry from Raymond Island, but with my camera in case there was a UFO or similar, and, sure enough, there was similar. Dolphins.

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Tattooists are doing well in the dolphin world, although it must be hard to keep them still, and finish the work before the water washes it away; and one wonders what channel they get that has the Roadrunner:IMG_2939

One quite remarkable experience was to  witness a Pelican nursery at close range. A frequent advantage of travelling in off or shoulder peak times is that you end up being the only person on a tour. Sure, you sometimes  have to pay extra, but the value is in being quiet and flexible.

So I ended up the only person, well, fortunately except for the expert skipper, on a trip out on the Gippsland Lakes.

Late in the afternoon we drifted quietly to a safe legal distance from a breeding colony.

The breeding males were certainly apparent, with the blood enfused beak standing out:


There seemed to be lots of lost car key issues: they must be in here somewhere:

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It was astonishing to watch the dynamics. Some parents stayed at home and looked after the kiddies.

And there were flying classes graded to the skill level.

Some kids just flew from one end of the island t’other. Others flew for a few hundred metres;

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and in one of my favourite photographs, the older kids arrived back at sunset after a long day’s adventure.

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As always with coastal lakes, the magnificent White-bellied Sea-eagle was a star. Such clean colours in the adults, effortless gliding, and all-round majesty.

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Mind you, in terms of majesty there is always the serious contender, the Wedgie:

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White-faced herons (really should be white-faced egrets) are required by GHQ to have a presence at every water hole. I am sure each bird gets some sort of GPS location order to ensure they are so dispersed.

Royal Spoonbills are common enough, but nowhere near as well organised as the White-faced Herons.

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One of the great mysteries was the whereabouts of this sea snake. I didn’t see it at the time, but it is evident from my photos that something, or some bird, has moved it:IMG_2878 (3)IMG_2876 (2)IMG_2872 (2)

Raymond Island was a very short cable ferry trip off the mainland, and the star inhabitants on the Island are the Koalas, always hard to spot:

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Lots of other birds were about, given the mix of salt and fresh water, and the forests, so we had Little Pied Cormorants and Crested Terns:

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Pacific Gulls were plentiful, with their pronounced beak, here fascinated by the same feature as the Little Pied Cormorant:

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And every Black Swan is a White Swan wanting to get out. If you watch them flying, you will see the white swan under the black sun guard adaptation:

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There were also a few random locals, like the Grey Butcherbird:

Butcherbird, Grey ssp leucopterus

and the first time spotting of the White-eared Honeyeater:

Honeyeater, White-eared

Being close to the sea, the lakes also have some classic inhabitants:

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Another great day.

Michael Monaghan

RE-visited May 2020

2 thoughts on “Re-visit 9: Gippsland Lakes, Southern Victoria

  1. Hi Michael. Such great photos. You may not remember but my parents love in east Gippsland between Bairnsdale and Paynesville. Fabulous beautiful area. I can’t wait to get down there to see my mum and dad. Hope you’re well. I retired from the ATO just before Easter. Love Alison xx


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