Destination: Mallacoota, VIC

By: John Willis, Photography by: John Willis & Supplied

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  • Trade-A-Boat

Located in the far south-eastern corner of Victoria, Mallacoota is a coastal wilderness haven – and a boating and fishing utopia!

Mallacoota -Victoria

Mallacoota is a popular nature-based holiday destination almost half way between Melbourne and Sydney.

Situated on the southern side of the NSW/Vic border, Mallacoota is nestled deep into the eastern end of the magnificent Croajingolong National Park (NP). Croajingolong abounds in tall, heavily forested mountain ranges and tumbling streams that feed remote sweetwater estuaries with their resulting abundance of flora and fauna.

Croajingolong NP, with the adjoining Nadgee Nature Reserve in New South Wales, forms one of only 12 UNESCO World Biosphere areas in Australia. It is home to an impressive biodiversity, including almost 1000 native plant and 315 animal species. The diverse coastal landscapes feature rocky outcrops, large stretches of sandy beaches, coastal dunes and freshwater rivers, making the park a popular destination for hiking and walking, swimming, diving, snorkelling and sea kayaking.


People -fishing -in -Mallacoota -Victoria -2

The township of Mallacoota is nestled at the bottom of the lower lake just as it turns into a large expanse of tidal flats including the "Goodwin Sands", and out through a treacherous sandbar entrance that has been the undoing of many seafaring adventurers. Boating and fishing has always been vital to Mallacoota which hosts one of the largest abalone fleets in the country. These hardened seafarers either ran the bar or tractor-launched their powerful trailer boats at the local Bastion Point headland in a small but exposed north-facing cove.

Edencraft -233-Formula -Abalone -boat -at -Mallacoota

The proposal for a safe harbour and launching ramp divided the township for many years, with the eventual construction being successfully completed only a few years ago. The modern two-lane ramp is protected from major ocean swell to the west, however it is a bit of a tight launch and difficult to see approaching sets and boats from the take off point, so take care. It is also quite a small harbour area with little room to manoeuvre, particularly when influenced by incoming swell.

Offshore, it’s only a 13km run out to the historical Gabo Island and its famous lighthouse built from the local red granite in 1858-62. Gabo Island is the marker for the turning point for shipping running down the east coast of Australia, and turning westward into the rigours of the infamous Bass Strait.

Mallacoota has always been popular with recreational offshore fishermen and divers but its real potential is currently being awakened since the improved access. There is myriad bottom residents, including the popular gummy shark and flathead, plus a seemingly expanding population of pelagics including yellowtail kingfish, tuna and a variety of sharks. Only recently we have seen an amazing run of striped marlin, with multiple hookups aplenty, plus some great success in the developing swordfish exploration.

There is a vast selection of surf and rock fishing locations for the land-based angler, with target species including Australian salmon, tailor, whiting, luderick, drummer, gummys and the prized mulloway. Yet the major recreational fishing effort is based in the extensive lakes system with magnificent tree-lined shores rolling down to greet the tannin-stained waters. You can fish right in the township down at the main wharf, along the entire lakeside rim including the piers, moorings and ramps; plus there have been a number of dedicated fishing platforms constructed from the Recreational Fishing Grants Program.

Mallacoota -lakes -Victoria -Australia

It’s worth dropping a line virtually anywhere lakeside. All of the waters are designated recreational fishing only zones, removing all commercial effort back in 2003. Fifteen years of recovery have been good to the lakes system, with species such as bream, mullet, tailor, trevally, mulloway, whiting, luderick, estuary perch and some crocodile-sized flathead all on offer. But this doesn’t mean they will just sacrifice themselves, you still have to work for them. After all it is called fishing, not catching.

Man -with -tailor -fish

Live baiting with poddy mullet, sand and beach worm, or bass yabbies is very popular for the larger flathead and mulloway yet lure fishing with soft plastics and a broad range of hard and soft, deep-diving and stick baits are all successful, particularly for the bream, flathead, tailor and perch. Don’t despair if you are a general bait soaker as you are still in strong contention for a prized catch, with most species attracted to prawn, shell, sand or beach worm or even the humble whitebait, pilchard or pipi.

Kid -with -fish -on -a -boat

There are literally miles and miles of sheltered waterways, backwaters, drop offs, rocky headlands, sandy beaches, coves and inlets to explore, and don’t forget the water toys for kids large and small. There are numerous lakeside access points deep in the forest, and some with picnic facilities, barbecues and their own piers and landings. Watch out for the local goanna population, particularly the big one at Cape Horn, it tends to get a bit demanding if you don't share your sausages!


Boats -at -Karbeethong -Mallacoota

There are terrific launching facilities servicing Mallacoota’s thriving boating community including two well-designed dual-lane boat ramps in the township and another at nearby Karbeethong, virtually a suburb of the main town. There is further access with a public ramp at the beautiful upstream hamlet of Gypsy Point, and all are quite suitable for even the largest of trailer boats. There are a few private facilities including the Wallagaraugh River Retreat set high into the bream, bass, perch and flathead fishery up high in the Wallagaraugh River.

Man -on -a -boat

Mallacoota’s inlets, lakes and rivers are a terrific cruising and watersports location with many secluded coves for overnighting plus plenty of jetties for temporary visits including Cemetery Bight Jetty, Kingfish Point Jetty, The Narrows Jetty, South West Arm Jetty, Goanna Bay Jetty, Allan Head Jetty, Captain Creek Jetty, Cape Horn Jetty, Genoa River Jetty and Gravelly Point Jetty. Boat hire is available for those unfortunates that find themselves raftless who still want to explore the lake.


The lakes offer such a wide variety of options. Kayaking is very popular and a destination for the Hobie Fishing Competition Series. There are bushwalks galore for all levels, including beach and forest adventures. For the more serious adventurer there is the Wilderness Coast Walk that extends 100km from the eastern shores of Sydenham Inlet in Croajingolong NP, to Wonboyn in the Nadgee Nature Reserve, NSW.

People -fishing -in -Mallacoota -Victoria

There is plenty of flora and fauna with kangaroo’s wallabies, wombats and lyrebirds galore, plus the wildflowers and extensive birdlife attract many visitors. There is whale watching from the local headlands, or maybe take a visit to nearby Eden and its terrific whale museum.

For the beachgoer there are sheltered swimming beaches throughout the lakes system, however the local surf beaches are truly a treat.


Man -on -a -boat -in -Mallacoota -Victoria

It's little wonder that Mallacoota is such a favoured holiday destination for CBD dwellers from Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, and indeed from a high percentage of all holidaymakers and nomads. It is a wonderful place providing opportunity for a diverse range of interest groups; however the boating and fishing opportunities are boundless and all backed up by an attractive level of facilities, accommodation and services.

Check out the full feature in issue #501 of Trade-A-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest boating news, reviews and travel inspiration. 


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