Lake Argyle is one of my favourite spots near Kununurra in North Western Australia. I had been longing for years to see this pristine Outback region of Australia and could spend some time in the Kimberley Region. I did explore by air and land the town, the Purnululu National Park, and its surroundings.
Can you see the small islands on the lake?
Lake Argyle is known for its beautiful geological formations and emerald green waters. The myriad of islands you see were formerly hills that formed when Lake Argyle in 1970 was filled with water, to create the second largest freshwater reservoir of Australia. Here below I take you through the vast, fascinating human-made Lake Argyle.
How to get to Lake Argyle
From the town centre of Kununurra, it’s only a 70 km scenic drive that takes you through varied landscape contours. The best way to get to lake Argyle is with a rental car. If you plan to hire a car to be sure you drive at day time and book your accommodation for the night.
It is not allowed to drive at night in the Outback with a rental car. At peak season, however, some tour companies can organise the pick up of visitors from Kununurra to Lake Argyle and the return drive too. Another option is to go first on a scenic flight over Lake Argyle. This will allow you to see much of the surrounding areas including the Bungle Bungle Ranges.
The unique natural habitat of the lake
Lake Argyle is not only a unique water ecosystem in the world supplying water to Kununurra and its farms, but it is also home to a spectacular array of wildlife and Australian native birds. With over 26 species of fish, the largest concentration of freshwater crocodiles to be found in Australia and a variety of water birds, as well as a large population of marsupials living on the island, Lake Argyle has become a paradise for nature lovers. Here are a few photos I took while visiting.
How to explore Lake Argyle from Kununurra
There are different types of day tours you can do. From day cruises, followed by a visit to the Homestead Durach and Lake Argyle Village, to luxury Sunset Cruises. Sunset cruises on Lake Argyle start around 2.30pm till dusk, and it includes cruising along one side of a lake, spotting waterbirds and marsupials, as well as learning about the fascinating history and development of this astounding human-made water system which is Lake Argyle.
Lake Argyle Sunset Cruise Tour
A Lake Argyle boat cruise is the best way to view the lake and spot wildlife, watch birds and at the same time enjoy the richness of colours and light reflection at sunset. From Lake Village, a short bus drive takes you to the lake pier where all boats set off for a lake cruise or a fishing tour.
I took this photo from the lookout in the village. From the boards displayed you can get information about the history, the realisation of the water irrigation system. The weather on that day, end of May, was perfect: sunny, blue sky and the right temperature, around 28°C.
This is the best part of the cruise, as said, Lake Argyle is home to an array of wildlife counting various marsupials. Our first encounter: Cute Rock Wallabies close to the water edge.
From this first stop, we cruised along the calm waters of the lake to reach a small island where we could spot lovely water birds and a majestic sea eagle on its massive nest.
Lake Argyle has the largest concentration of freshwater crocodiles, and it’s not unusual to spot many crocodiles on its banks, especially in May-June when they start digging their nests on the islands.
A few facts about Lake Argyle
The boat cruise was very informative too. From the tour guide, we learnt about the history of early pioneers and the importance of the ambitious irrigation system projects that made life possible on the East Kimberley Region.
Lake Argyle was completed in 1970 at the cost of 22 Mio AUD. It encompasses a whole area of about 1200square kilometres. Over the years further developments of the initial irrigation system saw the realisation of the Ord River Dam and the Kununurra Dam, as long as the recent installation of the Hydropower Station.
This increased the water capacity to almost 18times the size of Sydney Harbour as well as supporting the area with renewable energy. The water capacity also increases during the wet season, when the lake is in flood. Moreover, there is an additional project that started in 2009 with the goal of achieving a further expansion of the farming area from 12,500hectares to 14,500hectares.
It was truly fascinating to learn about the history of the remote Kimberley Region. Pioneering Family Durach started in 1879 the cattle station settlement by crossing the country from south to north-west for over 6000km, searching for new fertile land.
The journeys with cattle took up to 4 years! Kimberley Durach and more pioneer families set the path for the transformation of the rugged, harsh Kimberley Region into rich pastures and a thriving agricultural area.
Swimming & Drinking Champagne at Lake Argyle
As a light breeze set in and sunset colours brushed the hills, it was the right time to swim in the calm waters. What’s better than a fresh dip and a glass of champagne? A delightful break for socialising and taking pictures of the gorgeous sunset over the lake.
What do you think of these beautiful sunset colours over Lake Argyle?
This was one of the best boat cruises I have ever had in Australia. I enjoyed it very much and also hope you liked this virtual tour over the lake too and felt inspired to visit Lake Argyle soon.
If you are keen to learn more of what the fantastic Kimberley has to offer you can check out:
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last update August 2019
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