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Setting sail at Gippsland Lakes

Travel Tales embarks on a family sailing adventure in Victoria.

Learning my sea terms I quickly test myself. Helm, port, stern, jib, bow…

The sound of the sails gently flapping in the wind, the water splashing against the bow as we leap over white caps, sun on the back, wind in the hair, salty lips. The true adventure has begun.

My daughter squeals with excitement as she watches Dad tacking away, pulling the jib and hoisting the main sail.

There's nothing like it.

It was the beginning of our first sailing adventure on the Gippsland Lakes, Victoria, and we were all full of excitement, trepidation and nervous energy. Taking a three-year-old on a yacht, sleeping on board for the week, navigating the waters on our own and being our very own skippers – this was going to be quite the adventure!

The Gippsland Lakes are the largest navigable inland waterway in Australia, comprising 400 square kilometres. It truly is a boating paradise where you can choose between numerous bays and inlets, try a spot of fishing, swimming, stroll along the sand dunes, or sit on the deck and watch the most extraordinary sunsets. There are also several towns in Gippsland to explore from your yacht, including Metung, Paynesville and Raymond Island (to name a few). You can even catch a glimpse of some amazing wildlife along the way including dolphins, kangaroos, marine and birdlife.

“There's nothing like it.”

With only a short 3.5-hour drive from Melbourne, we arrived in the beautiful seaside village of Metung, Victoria and met the owners of the chartered yacht company – Riviera Nautic.

After checking the jetty map and locating our yacht – the almighty ‘Catalina 28’ – my husband broke out in a huge grin. Seeing this immaculate, luxurious yacht tied up to the Metung jetty in all its glory provided us both with a huge sense of escapism. It was a stunning vessel and soon we would hoist the main sail and be on our own little family adventure!

Loading our bags on board it was clearly apparent that we had yet again over packed and underestimated the amount of stuff we had with us. So, here’s a tip for those of you heading on a private chartered yacht… space means everything!

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Next was the sleeping arrangements which provided many a giggle. “Which cupboard am I sleeping in?” asked our three-year-old girl, Daisy. She wasn’t wrong, it was certainly very cosy on board, but nevertheless, this was all part of the adventure, I reminded myself.

It’s a whole new world when you are sailing. Imagine being surrounded by nothing but national parks and farmland and exploring the tranquil rivers, deserted beaches and peaceful coves as you experience jaw-dropping, bright orange sunsets, glorious stars like you’ve never witnessed before and many awe-inspiring magical moments along the way.

Sailing is a hands-on activity that the whole family can join in, including the kids. Wearing a life jacket on board, Daisy loved helping us steer the yacht and drop the anchor at all of our favourite mooring spots, including Bancroft Bay, Duck Arm and Barrier Landing.

You are not required to have a boating licence or previous experience to hire a yacht, cruiser or day boat from Riviera Nautic. The friendly owners, Cam and Sascha, provide you with an introduction to sailing by taking you out on the yacht to learn the ropes (no pun intended) and to go through all the procedures. They are also available 24/7 on the onboard radio or mobile if you need any assistance so this helps to make you feel safe. The best news is the Gippsland Lakes are ideal for beginners as they are a soft bottom lake, there are no tides or reefs and there is a large choice of sheltered moorings.

Another highlight was watching Daisy’s face as we would radio in each afternoon with where we intended to anchor overnight. “Roger, copy that, over and out!”

Falling asleep each night I’ll never forget the feeling of gently swaying, peeping out the cabin porthole at the magical stars above, feeling a gentle breeze overhead and knowing that my little family were all on the adventure of a lifetime!

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TOP TIPS

1. Don’t overpack. Ensure you have comfy, casual clothes that can be layered as one minute the sun will be beaming down on you and the next it will be cloudy.

2. Don’t forget the Aeroguard and sunscreen! Two most used items on board.

3. Don’t forget good coffee as they have a gas stove on board, so BYO percolator.

4. Shoes! You only need to bring one pair of thongs to wear on shore as most of the time you’ll live barefoot on board.

5. Rain jacket and sunhat.

6. Games and books (there is no TV or Wi-Fi).

7. Try not to bring too many loose belongings as you will feel cramped on board. Better to bring large soft bags (not suitcases) that fit in all your toiletries, books, games, etc.

8. BYO quality wine, cider and prosecco, as you are on holidays.

Avid travellers, dreamers, idealists, husband and wife, Mum and Dad to Daisy and life enthusiasts… Matt and Meg, are thrilled to share with you their Travel Tales. Stemming from their love of travel and passion for hitting the long open road and embarking on high spirited adventures, they share their mini breaks, weekend getaways, mid-week overnighters, long overseas journey…Matt, Meg and Daisy never tire of exploring new territory, immersing themselves in different cultures and ways of living, meeting locals and other travellers and embracing the great outdoors.

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