Sunday, 24 July 2011

Lake Argyle

Deciding which cruise to take for the Lake Argyle experience was difficult due to the many companies & cruise types on the menu. Most didn't go onto the lake at all or just  into the closer bays near the dam wall only.
A 1/2 day cruise, including sunset swim & drinks seemed like a great choice.

Lake Argyle is 75 kms from Kununurra & is the largest man made lake in Oz. The lake was created when an impermeable earthed dam wall was built across the Ord River.
Thousands of hectares of cattle farming land was swamped by filling the area.
Argyle Downs was the main cattle station, bought from the Durack family who had originally set up home in the area in the late 1800's after droving 3000 head of cattle from western Qld.  Cattle yards, sheds & other buildings are still under the 23 mtr deep water. The original homestead was pulled apart - brick by brick &  re built not far from the  Lake Argyle entry road.

It is designed to hold 10.7 million mega litres. In comparison to Sydney Harbour it is 23 times larger in volume & can be up to 63 times larger in flood conditions. 

It took 3 dry seasons to build the dam wall. It could only be built during the dry season due to the volume of water going down the Ord River each wet season.

Approaching the Lake was also exciting - mt ranges in the distance & around you. This is part of the Carr Boyd range  that encloses the lake with out any other structure other than the dam wall.


This is a man made spillway & creek, created to the side of the lake, by blasting a 2.2 km channel through rock bed that was too hard to dig with conventional machinery.

The approximate length of the lake in non flood times is 72 kms.
The dam wall is built of clay, gravel & rock.
This is part of the the Ord Hydro Power Station, providing power to Kununurra, Wyndham & the Argyle Diamond Mine
The Ord river below the dam wall with the hydro power station

Cruise time on Lake Argyle & the views every where were magnificent

The dam wall from the water level. The 2 - 3 mtr band at the base of the wall is the stain from 2011 flood season. I think that's the highest it's ever been since the Lake was built.



Hundreds of islands were created with the flooding of low grazing areas, leaving the peaks of the hills sticking out. Some rock wallabies are found on many of the rocky islands. There are reportedly 20,000 fresh water crocs around Lake Argyle. 1 salt water croc at the other end where there's sand & softer soil. They don't like the rocky islands.

Exhilarating & beautiful


The only other vessel out on the lake that arvo looked lonely
Afternoon reflections

We fossicked for Amethyst rock on this island. We were meant to be on an island with Zebra rock, but that island was still under water  :(

The shutter on the camera just kept on clicking away!!!










We stopped for a sunset swim, for those game enough to get into the chilly water. Champagne, wine & beer was served with some dip & chips.

Rod was the 1st in the water. Mandatory refreshment as well :)


Had to blend my bubbly with some orange juice.

The pic looks grainy & in black & white - but it's night time & the tour leader knew just where this Jabiru was with it's nest.



To finish off the day - a full moon. What more could we want.

We covered 2/3 of the length of the 77km long lake. We saw many fresh water crocs, stopped & fed a  few rock wallabies, bird life to view through the provided binoculars, feed bread to some fresh water fish, found a few amethyst stones / chips, enjoyed a magical afternoon sunset & generally had a great afternoon of cruising.











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