Gippsland Lakes, Victoria, ACT and NSW

Tour departs: 14 February 2018
Tour length: 15 Days


We first offered the tour in 2017 and are repeating the tour in 2018, albeit with a few refinements and this time operating in the reverse direction. The tour follows along the same lines as our ever popular Great Murray River Run tour. This year, we start the tour in Sydney and then travel out to the beautiful Blue Mountains region before travelling to the nation’s capital, Canberra. Then its via the Snowy Mountains town of Cooma to coastal Merimbula and Lakes Entrance. Here, we again team up with Jock and his crew to cruise the lakes and rivers of the East Gippsland region which extends from Lakes Entrance to Sale and is the largest inland waterway system in Australia. Accommodated ashore by night and cruising by day, we are able to experience the fascinating and diverse wetland scenery and birdlife of the area from the water. At the conclusion of the cruise, we travel on to Melbourne before returning home. An easy paced close-to-home tour limited to just 26 people.



  • Sydney including the “long lunch” harbour cruise
  • The breath-taking Blue Mountains region for 2 nights
  • Canberra for 2 nights
  • Cooma, gateway to the Snowy Mountains and coastal Merimbula
  • Melbourne including the Dandenong Ranges



We spend 4 full days cruising the lakes and rivers of this well known Victorian tourist and boating destination aboard “Spirit II”. The toilet-equipped vessel with comfortable saloon accommodation as well as outdoor viewing offers a unique opportunity to experience the fascinating and diverse wetland scenery and birdlife of the area from the water.  Overnight accommodation is at comfortable motor inns.



Wednesday 14 February

Home – Sydney

Today we join flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to Sydney. On arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a 2-night stay.

Thursday 15 February

Sydney (B,L)

Today, we enjoy a relaxing luncheon cruise on Sydney Harbour. Sit back and enjoy a buffet lunch as we cruise past the iconic sites including Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. An informative commentary is provided as the various landmarks are pointed out. Enjoy a sumptuous buffet lunch with something for everyone’s tastes.


Friday 16 February

Sydney  – Blue Mountains(B,D)

This morning, we leave Sydney and take the short ride out of the city to Featherdale Wildlife Park, home to one of Australia’s most comprehensive collections of native wildlife including Koala, Wallabies and Kanagaroos, Emus, an amazingly diverse range of birds, 40 species of reptiles in the Reptilian Pavilion and even a salt water crocodile. Thereafter, we continue on to Leura in the heart of the Blue Mountains and our lovely resort hotel for a 2 night stay.

Saturday 17 February

Blue Mountains National Park (B)

This morning we visit Scenic World, renowned for providing the ultimate Blue Mountains adventure –  from native birdlife and fresh air, to breathtaking views of the World Heritage-listed region including the Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls and Jamison Valley. You can journey on the world’s steepest incline railway, glide between clifftops on the glass-floored Skyway suspended 270 metres in the air, descend into the ancient Jamison Valley by Cableway, explore Jurassic rainforest along all or part of the 2.4 kilometres walkway – the longest boardwalk in the Southern Hemisphere.


Sunday 18 February

Blue Mountains – Jenolan – Canberra (B,D)

Our first stop this morning is the Jenolan Caves, the largest and most famous cave system in Australia. Set in the Blue Mountains National Park, the Jenolan Caves are a national treasure of awe-inspiring beauty and scale. Our visit includes a tour of the Imperial Cave where you can experience crystal formations, fossils and an underground river.

This afternoon, a beautiful picturesque drive takes us via Goulburn and Taralga long the Tablelands Way to the capital city, Canberra for a 2 night stay.

Monday 19 February

Canberra (B)

This morning, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Canberra. We see the important monuments and buildings such as the National Library, High Court, Carillon Bell Tower, the Captain Cook Memorial, and The Lodge, official residence of the Australian Prime Minister. Guided tours are included of Parliament House with its innovative buildings and rooftop gardens, and also the Australian War Memorial. There is free time this afternoon for independent sightseeing or just relaxing – maybe visit the National Museum and/or the National Portrait Gallery.

Tuesday 20 February

Canberra to Merimbula (B,D)

This morning, it’s a short drive to Cooma, known as the Gateway to the Snowy Mountains, a convenient base for visitors in both summer and winter alike. We visit the Snowy Hydro Visitor Centre, a state-of-the-art facility that showcases the amazing story of the Snowy Mountain Scheme from the early days of construction to the role it plays today in the continuing development and growth of Australia. On to Bega, an historic town surrounded by rich dairy country with a long history of cheese-making. And our last leg of the day’s drive is to the seaside town of Merimbula, the jewel of the Sapphire Coast, for an overnight stay.

Wednesday 21 Ferbruary

Merimbula – Lakes Entrance (B,D)

Lets start the day with a stroll along beautiful Pembula Beach, a 6km stretch of beautiful white sand before we continue a short distance on to Eden where the sapphire-blue waters of Twofold Bay and the secluded coastal wilderness charms visitors. There, we visit the Eden Killer Whale Museum that showcases Eden’s fascinating whaling history. We then continue on through state forests and through the small towns of Genoa, Wingan River and Cann River to Orbst, a service centre for the surrounding cattle and rich agriculture district. Our destination is Lakes Entrance for an overnight stay before commencing the cruise tomorrow.

Thursday 22 February

Cruising Gippsland Lakes & Rivers Region (B,L,D)

We meet up with our cruise crew this morning as we depart Lakes Entrance and cruise along the southern end of Rigby Island via the Hopetoun channel, and then pass beside Fraser Island through the Rigby Channel. Proceeding west, we travel by Nungurner and enter Bancroft Bay where we take a short cruise up Chinaman’s Creek before arriving in the holiday town of Metung. This is a very attractive area with many boats moored and we go ashore and enjoy lunch at the local “pub”.  Our afternoon cruise will cover many highlights including crossing over Lake King and a cruise up the Mitchell River.  We also view the longest silt “jetties” in the world that separate Jones Bay from Lake King.  As we approach the city of Bairnsdale, the Mitchell River banks become very attractive and are dotted with large homes and private jetties. A coach will be waiting at the town wharf to transfer us to Paynesville where we will be based for 3 nights.

Friday 23 February

Cruising Gippsland Lakes & Rivers Region (B,L,D)

We transfer by coach back to the wharf for a day cruising this section of the “lakes”.  We return down the Mitchell River and across Jones Bay to the Nicholson River where we travel upstream a few kilometres to the small town of the same name with lunch at the local “pub”. The Princes Highway blocks our path here. After lunch, we return to Lake King and proceed up our third river for the day – the Tambo.  The exact source of the name Tambo is unknown but thought to be aboriginal and connected to fish and we can navigate the river as far as Johnsonville.  Then it’s back across Lake King, this time directly to Paynesville to view the canal development in the area before “docking” right in front of our motel.

Saturday 24 February

Cruising Gippsland Lakes & Rivers Region (B,L,D)

We start another day packed with highlights and cruise through the short McMilllan Strait with views of both Paynesville and Raymond Island.  As we pass by Montague Point, we enter our second major lake – Lake Victoria.   We head south towards Bass Strait, although we are protected by the Ninety-Mile Beach and remain securely in the “lake system”.  We travel through the Grange Channel by Barton Island and into the Bunga Arm, a long waterway that runs between the Boole Poole Peninsula and the sandhills of the beach.  At Steamer Landing, we walk ashore to view Ninety-Mile Beach and Bass Strait.  The Pelican Rookery on Crescent Island is visible as we cruise to Point Wilson and Sperm Whale Head, then across Lake Victoria to Wattle Bay where a bbq lunch will be served. During the afternoon, we head west along Lake Victoria to Loch Sport, situated right in the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park. We take time to go ashore before continuing along Lake Victoria to its western end at Holland’s Landing.  The coach will be waiting to transfer us back to our accommodation at Paynesville.

Sunday 25 February

Cruising Gippsland Lakes & Rivers Region (B,L,D)

After breakfast, we return by coach to our boat at Holland’s Landing.  It is here that we leave Lake Victoria and travel through McLennans Strait, a narrow channel that takes us into our third and final lake – Lake Wellington. We travel over the large expanse of this lake and enter the Avon River which we can navigate ten kilometres upstream before returning to Lake Wellington and entering the Perry River, a popular bird watching area. Lunch today is a picnic on board after which we cross to Lakes Wellington’s western shore for the last time and enter the La Trobe River. We pass the Dowd Morass State Game Reserve and after nearly thirty kilometres of river travel arrive at the historic Swing Bridge.  This is the oldest surviving swing bridge in Australia (1883) and today it will be opened for our boat.  The bridge is at the junction of the La Trobe and Thomson Rivers and we travel along the Thomson before reaching the old inland port of Sale. On arrival, we transfer the short distance to our motel for an overnight stay.

Monday 26 February

Sale to Melbourne (B)

After breakfast we farewell our boat crew and join our coach for the journey through to Melbournen. Sit back and relax and enjoy the journey through rural Victoria. Our destination is the Dandenong Ranges, southeast of Melbourne, with its secret fern glades, towering forests and eclectic villages. We arrive at the town of Gembrook where the historic “Puffing Billy” railway awaits us. The narrow gauge steam railway dates back to 1900 but the line was closed in 1953 due to major slip. It was reopened in 1965 and extended over the next 30 years. Sit back and enjoy this piece of history and some wonderful scenery during our 25km journey. At the conclusion of this journey, we rejoin our coach for the final run into Melbourne where we stay for 2 nights.

Tuesday 27  February

Melbourne (B,D)

You may have been to Melbourne before but just sit back this morning and enjoy a leisurely sightseeing tour . See Fitzroy Gardens and Captain Cook’s Cottage, Parliament House, Queen Victoria Market, Botanic Gardens, Port Phillip Bay, the Yarra River and the Shrine of Remembrance.  This afternoon is free for last minute sightseeing or shopping and this evening, the last night of the tour, we enjoy a final dinner together.

Wednesday 28 February

Melbourne – Home (B)

Time to say our farewells as we are transferred to Melbourne Airport in time to join flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch








The Grace Hotel, Sydney

Superbly set in a 1920s Neo-Gothic building with an art deco interior, this traditional hotel is a short walk from Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Darling Harbour.

The Grace is listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register with the following statement of significance:

The Grace Building is historically significant because of its associations with the retail boom of the 1920s. It epitomises the optimism and dynamism of that period as well as the subsequent economic collapse and Great Depression. It is also associated with the World War II presence of United States military forces in Australia and with General Douglas MacArthur in particular. It is architecturally significant because it is Sydney’s finest example of the skyscraper gothic style which illustrates the American influence on Australian commercial architecture and is a distinctive landmark in the city. It was one of the most significant works of Morrow and Gordon, a leading architectural firm of that period. The Grace Building is technically significant because of the unusual reinforced concrete slab and beam construction and the glazed architectural terra cotta cladding.

Featuring free Wi-Fi, the bright, casual rooms also include flat-screen TVs, minibars, desks and 24-hour room service.

The hotel offers a relaxed bar and a modern brasserie overlooking the Grace Plaza atrium. Additional amenities include a business centre, and a rooftop recreation centre with a gym, heated indoor lap pool, sauna and steam room.

A historic and luxurious hotel with everything on offer.

Fairmont Resort, Blue Mountains

On the cusp of the dramatic Jamison Valley in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park, located only 90 minutes drive west from Sydney, Fairmont Resort is the pinnacle of upscale accommodation in Leura, one of the most charming upper-mountains villages in Australia.

Embrace unparalleled leisure facilities and conference venues, the award-winning Fairmont Resort is ideal for romantic getaways, family escapes from the city, stunning weddings, iconic dining and cutting-edge business retreats.


Tour Costs

Sharing twin or double accommodation: $7,890
Supplement for single accommodation: $1,670

Costs Include
  • Economy class air travel from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch.
  • Prepaid airport/government security charges/taxes and fuel surcharges (as at 01/09/17).
  • First Class hotel accommodation in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney & comfortable motor inns and country hotels elsewhere
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • First Class air conditioned coach transportation for all touring
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary
  • Baggage handling of one suitcase per person
  • Gratuities and tips to local guides, coach drivers and cruise staff
  • Fully escorted by a Maher Tours Leader.
Costs Exclude
  • Any meals and sightseeing tours not specifically mentioned in the itinerary
  • Travel Insurance (assistance and advice will be offered)
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, room service, drinks, telephone charges etc

“An interesting town and country tour, incorporating Melbourne, Canberra, and Sydney with towns in between which previously had only been names on a map. Nice relaxed pace.

I didn’t know what to expect, but got home feeling satisfied and relaxed – ready to think of the next trip.”
– Robin T

“I found the whole tour well planned for our comfort and pleasure”
– Eileen S

“This tour will suit those who want to experience the rural environment and some of Victoria’s lakes and rivers.”
– Denis M

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