Surrounded by sparkling lakes on Victoria’s south-east coast, Paynesville is a historic fishing and shipbuilding town in the scenic Gippsland region. It was originally named Toonalook, an Aboriginal name meaning “place of fish”, and has transformed from a small 19th-century settlement into a vibrant boating town with plenty of sheltered canal and inlet moorings.
Things to do in Paynesville
You can delve into the local history at Paynesville Maritime Museum, which explores the town’s establishment as a fishing port and its role in supplying fresh fish to Melbourne. Browse the old photographs and artefacts from the steamships that once served the Gippsland Lakes and learn about the recreational boating culture that attracts visitors to the region.
Directly opposite Paynesville is Raymond Island, which is famed for the koalas that were introduced here in 1953. Ride the cable ferry that links to the island to explore the 1.2-kilometre-long Koala Walk, with sightings of kangaroos, echidnas and native birdlife also common. There are plenty of places along the island’s coast where you can cast a fishing line to lure flathead, bream and prawns.
Paynesville also makes an ideal base for exploring Lakes National Park, which encompasses 2,390 hectares along the shores of Lake Victoria and Lake Reeve. Stretch your legs along one of the walking trails that traverse Sperm Whale Head or relax on the sands of Ninety Mile Beach, which is backed by sandy dunes and bird-filled lagoons.
Getting around Paynesville
Paynesville is around 3.5 hours’ drive from Melbourne and Melbourne Airport while Bairnsdale is just 25 minutes away. Regular trains connect from Bairnsdale railway station to the Victorian capital. Having your own vehicle is the best way of visiting Paynesville and exploring the region.