I live in a city and cycle everywhere, so I’m not the world’s best driver. Visiting a farm in Winlaton required more driving in one day than I was comfortable with, so I decided to stay the night in neighbouring Lake Boga. Boy am I glad I did! My husband joined me at the last minute for a fun mini-cation in a part of Victoria we never imagined we’d visit.
Driving from Melbourne, Kerang presented the perfect lunch stop opportunity. Atkinson Park provided a large lake and shaded tables for our picnic lunch. The nearby playground entertained us with its flying fox and the library’s gallery space offered an exhibition of contemporary weaving.
After our farm visit, we drove over to Lake Boga caravan park, our rest stop for the night. The owner was relaxed and friendly, and the lush grass of the camping area inviting. We strolled over to the bottle shop for a bottle of wine, and sat by Lake Boga. We relaxed with books and wine glasses in hand all afternoon, bliss!
I’d remembered to bring my binoculars and checked out the pelicans on the lake in detail. It’s the first time I’ve seen a flock feeding together. They glided over the water in the same direction. In sync, they bowed their heads into the water and partially raised their wings. Having trailed their beaks for a short while, they lifted their heads again and continued to glide on. It was an amazing piece of choreography.
We had dinner at the pub, then walked along the lake to get to the Lake Boga Observatory. Several visitors were peering into telescopes by the time we arrived. It was a friendly, casual affair. The two guides showed us some of their favourite features, and took on board audience requests. Mars and Saturn were visible while we were there. We checked out the jewel box and got introduced to Antares. Later on, we headed inside for a presentation which zoomed in on galaxies. It gave me a better appreciation of the depth of the universe. Pretty cool stuff.
We set our alarms for 4am as we crawled into the tent for bed that night. Obedient to the signal, we got up and lay on the shores of Lake Boga in our sleeping bags to watch a meteor shower overhead in skies much clearer than you ever get in Melbourne.
The biggest tourist draw card at Lake Boga is the Flying Boat museum. Lake Boga was the site of a secret repair facility in World War II. Flying boats served in the Indian and Pacific oceans and Asia. They were large and slow, but could travel incredible distances. How else would you get a plane from Singapore back to Lake Boga with only one refueling stop?!
The highlight of the museum is an authentic Catalina Flying Boat, set up as it would have been in WWII. Around it are displays of memorabilia. One story recorded a time when the bottom of a Catalina was bombed, injuring the pilots. With the wind whistling around them, one of the pilots made a disparaging comment about “this Japanese air-con”! They managed the long haul back from Asia to Lake Boga. But flying boats usually land on water, and this Catalina had a massive hole in its belly. The pilots angled the vessel so that the tail hit the water first and the nose came down just as they reached the lake shore. Incredible stuff.
The memorabilia also told human stories of the repair base. It must have had a massive impact on this quiet agricultural community. There were mens and womens quarters, and regular dances for entertainment.
Driving home, we noticed the sign for the Reedy Lakes wetlands and turned off to check them out. The Kerang lakes are the traditional lands of the Wadiwadi, Wembawemba and Barababaraba. There were two walks from the car park; the one around the lake was more intact than the bushland one. It was a beautiful short walk between sun drenched River Red Gums. The perfect end to a lovely holiday.
*This article was edited because I found extra photos and information from the trip, particularly about our visit to the Reedy Lakes wetlands.