The secret is out: Canada's central province of Manitoba is the place to be for Aussie travellers who want to live like a Canadian on their summer holiday. Picture the quintessential lake-life culture, complete with lakeside lodges and lazy days filled with kayaking, swimming, windsurfing and fishing.
Read on for our top five freshwater adventures beckoning this summer.
- Manitoba's remote, wild north is Canada's final frontier. In the midst of roaming bears, moose, caribou and wolves, crystal-clear lakes and pristine forests, lies Gangler's Wilderness Lodge on the shores of Lake Egenolf. Learn about the diverse habitats of the area at this fly-in wilderness lodge, check out an authentic trappers' cabin and take a tour of the glacial 'erratics', huge granite boulders that adorn the landscape.
- Try your hand at catching your own lunch in one of the many lakes in this this prime fishing region. When night falls, turn your eyes skyward for the shimmering, dancing aurora borealis – the perfect end to an unforgettable day.
- Less than 100 kilometres east of Winnipeg is the stunning lakes region of Whiteshell Provincial Park. Check into a hand-crafted, lake-front cabin at Falcon Trails Resort, nestled in a boreal forest on the shores of Falcon and High Lakes, where canoeing, hiking, fishing and biking is high on the agenda.
- Spend days (or weeks) hiking the wilderness trails, explore the numerous glittering lakes throughout Whiteshell, and immerse yourself in the local culture and majestic nature that has inspired so many artists, singers and athletes.
- Take a road trip 200 kilometres north-east of Winnipeg to breathtaking Nopiming Park. The Anishnaabe word 'noopiming' translates to 'entrance to the wilderness', and the moment you dip your paddle into your first lake you'll see why. Nopiming is the crown jewel of paddling in southern Manitoba, and one of the wildest backcountry areas in the province.
- Book a two-night Twin River Travel canoe trip, taking in the Seagrim Lakes chain within the Park. This is the perfect introduction to canoe camping, traversing easy, small lakes and staying at comfortable camp sites. Keep your eyes peeled for the boreal caribou that call this beautiful place home, as well as extraordinary bird life.
- There's no doubt about it, Manitoba has more than its fair share of beaches. Soak up the sun on the shores of one of the world's largest freshwater inland lakes, Lake Winnipeg. Make a bee-line for the east side of the lake, where pristine beaches within a one-hour drive of Winnipeg beckon, and the sparkling water offers itself up for swimming and wind-surfing.
- Grand Beach, next to the historic La Vérendrye Trail, boasts powdery sand and grass-topped dunes that make it one of the top beaches in North America. Keep your camera poised to capture the birds that live in the nearby lagoon. Alternatively, soak up the sun on Patricia Beach, with its natural white sands, a quiet alternative to the busier beaches further north.
- Why settle for a day trip to the beaches of Lake Winnipeg? Stay a while longer, discover the fertile marshlands, teeming with birdlife, that surround the rugged western shorelines of the lake. Spend a few days at Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, home to Gull Harbour Marina and Lighthouse Inn and the high-end Hecla Lakeview Resort, the latter boasting its own waterpark, day spa and golf course.
- Rent a boat to cruise around the Hecla Island, or spend the day kayaking around the breathtaking limestone cliffs. With its pretty beaches, outstanding fishing and endless hiking trails, one thing is certain: you'll never want to leave.
Air Canada has daily direct flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Vancouver, with connecting services to Winnipeg. Alternatively, VIA Rail, the national Canadian rail service runs from Vancouver to Winnipeg. The two-day journey spans British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan before reaching the Manitoba, the heart of Canada.