Breakfast with a side of Lakes Entrance waterfront action at Albert & Co. Photo: Lauren Anderson
THE ONE BREAKFAST
At Albert & Co your breakfast comes with a side of Lakes Entrance harborside action as the local fishing trawlers and pleasure craft jostle for position just meters from your sunny morning table. The chilli labneh eggs with roast cherry tomatoes, chilli oil and dukkah on Turkish toast is legendary but the Benny with house-smoked salmon and turmeric-infused Hollandaise is great too. This is the one café, but finding the one dish is much harder.
THE ONE FISH AND CHIPS
Just opposite your breakfast is the floating fish palace that is Sodafish. Set in a retro kitschy floating restaurant there is nothing old fashioned about the menu. The top deck offers top-quality local seafood like a blue fin tuna and cured salmon tartare straight out of the ocean you are bobbing around on, but downstairs The Chippery sees chef and owner Nick Mahlook turn out top-notch takeaway. Grab a Lakes Entrance flathead and chips and eat it on the docks next to the fishing fleet.
THE ONE PLACE TO STAY
Sitting right across the road from the fleet of fishing boats, Bellevue on the Lakes offers two- and three-bedroom self-contained apartments with a sea view and plenty of room for families. It is also just a short walk to all of the town’s attractions and has great in-house dining. See bellevuelakes.com.au
THE ONE INDULGENT MEAL
The fish on your plate at Sardine is about as fresh as the ones you can see being filleted by Paynesville locals from the window of this petite dining room on evening at Eagle Point Bay. The titular fish is treated seasonally but might come with smoky garlic aioli, sour onions and a touch of pine nut oil, plated like a Miro painting. Chef Mark Briggs treats the local seafood simply, so school prawns come dressed in a salsa macha and duckfish tartare is tossed in ponzu dressing. The wine list is a who’s who of Gippsland grape growers.
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THE ONE BREWHOUSE
Sailors Grave is working on a brewhouse but for now is only in bottle shops. But, to taste some cracking beer at source, drop in to Red Bluff Brewery, the only brewer in Lakes Entrance. The 3 Lakes tropical ale is a great beer session and you might be able to team it with one of the food trucks that turns up to park next to the forest-cabin chic brewhouse.
THE ONE PUB LUNCH
Smack bang in the middle of lakeside life, the Metung Hotel is the sort of pub you can pull up to in a boat you tie off on the dock and head in for a chat under the great fishing trophies that have been mounted on the wall. Save yourself a deckside table at the bistro and get into local seafood in typically generous pub-sized services.
THE ONE ONE STOP FOODIE SHOP
Gippsland is Victoria’s food bowl with rolling green hills straight off a cheese packet or milk carton. But it also covers a huge chunk of the state. If only some of the region’s best produce was available in one spot… that is the business model of The Farmer and The Cook in Metung. In a tiny shopfront just near the Metung Hotel you can buy local seafood, cured meats, cheeses and olive oils. Better still, have a gourmet hamper curated for you and take it lakeside to enjoy.
THE ONE WAY TO SEE THE LAKES
Peels Cruises is a family affair that has been taking people on lake tours since the roaring ’20s. From the land you truly don’t realize just how big the lake system here is, but from a catamaran you can watch sea eagles dive into the water for lunch, cruise besides pods of dolphins or watch seals play in the wake from the boat. You will see some of the islands in the lake and Peels offers lunch cruises so you won’t go hungry.
THE ONE WALK
On the way home, brave the hike to a hidden billabong at the Den of Nargun, which the Gunaikurnai people believe is home to a kid-snatching rock monster (the Nargun of the title). It is a challenging but beautiful walk in the Mitchell River National Park with rock-top lookouts and waterfalls at certain times of the year. See parks.vic.gov.au.
ONE MORE THING
Photo: Parks Victoria
To add some seaside to your Gippsland Lakes holiday head to Cape Conran. The area got walloped by the bushfires but is now coming back with a vengeance thanks to the care from Parks Victoria. The Banksia Bluff campground has sites right on the beach, each with its own fire pit. Walk through the sprouting banksias to the unspoiled coast and you can look across to Sailors Grave, named after a local shipwreck but also the name of an amazing local brewer that forages for ingredients along this same coastline.
See parks.vic.gov.au, sailorsgravebrewing.com
Paul Chai traveled at his own expense.