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Navigational Information

(Chart Aus357a.Aus182, Gippsland Lakes Boating Guide)

Navigational aids within the Gippsland Regional Ports conform to the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) Buoyage System "A". Starboard-hand (or right side) marks are green, whilst port-hand (or left side) marks are red. Cardinal marks are yellow and black; Special marks are yellow and isolated danger marks black and red. In using the system it is essential to remember that the direction of buoyage is taken from the seaward entrance of these ports. When returning towards the entrance the situation would be reversed.

The waters of Gippsland Lakes are safe and pleasant to navigate but there are areas of shallow water, which may not be identified by navigation aids. For this reason it is advisable to carry a compass, obtain good local knowledge of the Lakes system and avoid navigating at night.

The area is subject to prevailing south-westerly winds in winter and south-easterly winds in summer.


Sea Conditions - Navigation of the ocean entrance to the Lakes system by operators of small boats is dangerous and attention is drawn to the caution notices erected at various points on shore at or near the entrance and at boat ramps in the locality.

Marks Inline Ocean Entrance Bar - Gippsland Ports has established "marks in line" to assist dredging operations and to maintain a consistent dredge line.   clickhere

Dredging Operations - Dredgers are often operating in the area of The Bar, ‘The Narrows”, Reeves Channel, Cunninghame Arm and the eastern end of Hopetoun Channel. Boat operators should exercise care when in these areas.

Ferry - A vehicular ferry operates on underwater cables across McMillan Strait at Paynesville. A flashing light located at each end of the ferry indicates its direction of travel.


Yachtsmen are cautioned about the existence of overhead electric cables across rivers and similar areas and should keep a look out for warning notices on the shore and riverbanks advising of these obstructions and safety heights.

Overhead Cables Clearance
Bullock Island Bridge 8.4m
Lakes Entrance North Arm Bridge 15.2m
Boxes Creek 22.1m
Swan Reach Bridge 15.05m
Nicholson River Bridge 9.8m
Mitchell River (approx. 7km from mouth) 16.2m
Mitchell River (approx. 8km from mouth) 17.5m
Mitchell River (approx. 1 km south of bridge) 15.7m
McMillan Strait (northern end) 22.9m
Picnic Arm (at entrance) 19.5m
Latrobe River (approx. 10 km from mouth) 11.8m
Latrobe River (approx. at swing bridge) 13.6m
Latrobe River (approx. 1km South of Sale) 12.95m

Power Line Clearance Distances are taken at mean tidal level.
Signage on banks/shore in the vicinity show respective heights.
Heights may vary in certain weather conditions (e.g. loss of clearance height during time of floods)
(note that heights taken from signage on site installed by relevant power authority)


Bridge clearance heights are displayed on the shore or banks approaching the majority of bridges located on the lakes or rivers.

Bridge Location Clearance
Paynesville Canal (south) 1.2m
Paynesville Canal (north) 5.0m
North Arm Bridge (Lakes Entrance) 6.5m
Cunninghame Arm Footbridge (Lakes Entrance) 2.8m
Eastern Beach Bridge (Lakes Entrance) 1.0m
Bullock Island Bridge (Lakes Entrance) 1.8m
Tambo River Bridge (Swan Reach) 6.6m
Nicholson River Bridge (Princes Highway) 2.5m
Nicholson River Bridge (Sarsfield) 7.0m
Mitchell River Bridge (Princes Highway) 6.0m
Mitchell River Backwater Bridge (Howitt Ave Eastwood) 2.5m
Mitchell River Backwater Bridge (Howitt Park footbridge) 4.2m
Mitchell River Bridge (Lind bridge) 6.4m
Thompson River Bridge (Swing Bridge) 3.8m
Thompson River Bridge (Longford) 6.8m

Bridge Clearance Distances are taken at the mean tidal level.
Heights may vary in certain weather conditions (e.g. loss of clearance height during time of floods
(note that heights are supplied by Vic Roads and East Gippsland Shire Council)


Entrance and Bar
Lakes Entrance is where the Gippsland Lakes system opens into Bass Strait. The entrance and bar can be extremely dangerous given certain conditions, whilst strong tidal influences are experienced in this area. Mariners are requested to contact the local coastguard on VHF channel 16 prior to passage inwards/outwards across the bar.

Cunninghame Arm
Cunninghame Arm provides access to the CBD of Lakes Entrance and is navigable up to the footbridge. Short-term berthing is available adjacent to public jetties and boardwalks along the foreshore. The channel is well defined and is detailed in the Gippsland Lakes Boating Guide.

North Arm
North Arm channel is well marked with navigation beacons and has an average depth of 2 metres in the lower reaches. The channel is well defined and is detailed in the Gippsland Lakes Boating Guide.

Hopetoun and Rigby Channels
Both channels are navigable and well defined, however larger vessels should take care because of moving shoals.

Reeve Channel to The Narrows
Vessels navigating in Reeve Channel with the tide have “right of way” over vessels stemming the tide. These channels are well defined and are detailed in the Gippsland Lakes Boating Guide.

Bancroft Bay Metung
Bancroft Bay has good water with safe anchorages in Chinaman’s Creek and Boxes Creek.

Lake King
Lake King provides good depth with well-defined navigation beacons. This lake is affected by south west and easterly winds, with sea conditions varying accordingly. Entrances to the Tambo, Nicholson and Mitchell Rivers are navigable and have well defined entrance beacons. The rivers provide safe anchorages. Gergon and Carstairs Banks on the southern side of Campbell Channel require sea room for clear passage. McMillan Strait between Raymond Island and Paynesville provides shelter from prevailing winds.

Lake Victoria
The water depth average is 5 metres throughout its length, however shallowing occurs towards McLennan Strait. South of Raymond Island the Aurora, Steamer and Grange Channels are clearly defined leading to Ocean Grange and Bunga Arm.
In the East, Newlands Arm off McMillan Strait, Duck Arm and Picnic Arm adjacent to Banksia Peninsula provide safe anchorages, whilst Loch Sport, Blonde Bay and Toms Creek provide safe anchorages at the western end of Lake King.

McLennan Strait
McLennan Strait joins Lake Victoria and Lake Wellington and provides safe anchorage and an average depth of 4 metres throughout. The entry and exit to the strait is well defined with minimum depths of approximately 1.8m.

Lake Wellington
Lake Wellington is only recommended for shallow draft vessels due to the limited depth of water. The shallow depth when accompanied with changing weather conditions can change the sea state in a very short time. The passage across the lake is well defined, as is the entrance to the Latrobe River. The Latrobe, Avon and Perry Rivers provide good anchorages.
An air force bombing range is defined in the south western corner of the lake.