by Peter Jung •
There are plenty of reasons to spend time in Eildon. The lake is of course the main drawcard for anglers, water skiers and a huge flotilla of pleasure craft. This huge body of water is recognised as the second most used waterway behind Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. It is one of the few places I know that even with a gaggle of boats on the water, your can find yourself a secluded spot somewhere and feel like the only person on the lake.
There is plenty more to do and see in the area: wineries, bush walks, camping and even the snowfields. From an angling perspective there are a number of iconic Victorian rivers that hold trout and of course our native Australian species, if the lake isn’t your thing. The ideal base to explore Eildon is the Eildon Pondage Holiday Park.
As the name suggests the park is set on 30 acres of the shoreline of the Eildon Pondage. Park manager Ray Bright took over running the Holiday Park with his wife about 18 months ago and is loving the challenge of making it even more visitor-friendly and getting to know the intricacies of the area. Ray said the history of the location and the opportunities that lay ahead are a huge driving force for them as they continue to evolve the park.
Cabins and Villas
A large proportion of the park has permanent sites that sporadically come up for sale. It is fun to walk around and check them out. In many cases people have put plenty of effort into making their little piece of the park their home away from home.
Outside of the permanent sites there are 18 cabins and villas available that hold from 4-7 people depending on the style that you decide on. There are newer luxury villas, demountable cabins and the original cottage that was used when they were building the dam wall. I have had two four-night visits, staying in the cottage and one of the demountable units. Both were clean and comfortable and the cottage was perfect for a family or larger group of anglers. The cabin was spot on for a couple of anglers with a boat looking to hit the lake.
For this humble author, there is nothing better than having a comfortable bed, a hot shower and somewhere to look forward to chilling out at the end of a long day. The cabins and villas definitely offer this as well as cooking facilities, a fridge and areas to enjoy a cold one and the views that the park offers.
There are 40 powered sites scattered throughout the park that are ideal for either a camper or caravan. Ray was busy through the winter months last year increasing the number of sites including some that have magnificent views of the Pondage and the dam wall behind. These sites also offer plenty of shade, with larger drive-through sites mixed amongst them.
There is an impressively large grassed area available for camping. It has 150 unpowered sites within the area, with a couple taking pride of place right on the Pondage. Ray took us through the area and explained that they have had large groups use the entire area. There are a number of covered common areas/camp kitchens that service the camping area as well as two toilet and shower blocks. In total there are three toilet and shower blocks and three common areas through the park. It was easy to imagine this area buzzing with activity during busy times; it would be a great sight to see.
As much as water activities will be a major component of any stay in Eildon, weather and a need for variety are always factors (keeping the kids entertained as well). The park itself has plenty of activities to keep everyone active. The activities include a kid’s playground, large chess board, jumping pillow, mini golf, a tennis and basketball court and another winter project of Ray’s – a swimming pool. Ray said it was fantastic to see the pool being enjoyed during the summer holidays; it made all the hard work during last winter worthwhile.
During the holiday periods they also have outdoor movies and the highlight is the bird feeding. There is always an abundance of sulphur-crested cockatoos around, but the king parrots are everybody’s favourite. Ray said that they will come and land on your hand. They really interact with the people staying in the park, instantly putting smiles on faces.
Ray said he was acutely aware of the family component of the park and is looking forward to making further improvements during the upcoming cooler period.
Eildon Pondage is a unique fishery. Victorian Fisheries has a great initiative of stocking it just prior to each school holiday period with yearling fish from the local Snobs Creek Hatchery. A number of the hatchery brood stock are also released periodically into the Pondage, so there is a very good chance that you will have some success fishing it.
The park has pondage frontage the entire length of the park and access is exclusive to people staying on the property. When the water in the Pondage is up the entire foreshore is fishable and as the water level drops a few areas become less fishy, but there are still plenty of spots to choose from. If you are unsure Ray is always happy offer some assistance.
If the taxidermy fish behind the office counter and the fishing happy snaps on the wall are anything to go by, you may never have to leave the park.
Boat Parking and Security
The holiday park has a dedicated boat storage area as well plenty of parking for trailers and boats around the various accommodation sites. Ray explained to us that if people have storage requirements, they can just contact him prior to their visit and he is happy to assist wherever possible.
Boom gates are in place with a key code for people entering and leaving the park for added security.
Everything is nearby
The proximity of all the services and attractions is another absolute positive of the park. Eildon township is a minute down the road. Fuel, groceries and other essentials are available and Gary at Eildon Bait and Tackle is a great source of information on where the fish are biting. You can also grab fresh baits and pick up a few lures while you are there.
I know coffee is a big part of my morning and the Eildon Bakery Café makes a mean coffee with a smile. It is also a great place to treat yourself to a morning off from cooking breakfast. I highly recommend their bacon and eggs.
If you need to launch a boat the Alliance Boat Ramp is five minutes away or you have the Lake Eildon Marina or Jerusalem Creek ramps not too far beyond that.
Other things that are worth exploring are the Snobs Creek Falls. They are only a 15-minute drive away and a short walk and an unexpected highlight to find in the area. There is also a lovely drive that winds its way from Eildon through to the Fraser Park.
On the fishing side of things, if the lake and Pondage are being unkind, check out the Eildon Trout Farm. They have several ponds stocked with fish that you can catch and purchase as well as some other local produce. It is a great outing for the whole family. The smoked trout there is one of my favourite things.
One thing I didn’t realise, which Ray pointed out to us, is that the Victorian alpine region is only an hour or so away – definitely within day trip range and something many visitors do during the winter months.
Check it out for yourself
Lake Eildon should be on any angler’s bucket list of locations to go and fish. It is almost the southern angler’s ideal freshwater mixed fishery. Brown and rainbow trout as well as golden perch and Murray cod are all available in good numbers. Add to that the many family activities also available and you have plenty of reasons to go and check it out.
Eildon Pondage Caravan Park is in an ideal location to provide a home base to explore the area and offers plenty of activities and things to do, other than relaxing of course.
You can contact the park on 1800 651 691 or check out their website at www.eildonpondage.com for more information. I know I’m looking forward to my next stay.