Round Australia Road Trip #5
Lake Argyle, just over the border in Western Australia, is large. At 100% capacity, it holds 11 000 billion litres of water, 21 times more than Sydney Harbour. It is the largest man made lake in the Southern Hemisphere and the eighth largest lake in the world.
The lake was created by damming the Ord River and harnessing the massive volume of water that flows during the wet season. The dam wall, constructed of earth and rock, was completed in 1972, ensuring a regulated water supply to the Ord River Irrigation Scheme all year round. A hydroelectric power station at the base of the dam wall generates enough power to service Lake Argyle village, the towns of Kununurra and Wyndham and the Argyle Diamond Mine.
As well as providing life-giving water and clean energy, the lake is the perfect location for leisure activities. We went cruising on a sleek orange catamaran, Kimberley Durack, named after the man whose vision led to the creation of Lake Argyle.
Because of its size the lake is classed as an inland sea and at times the shores were distant smudges on the horizon. We sailed from one calm bay to the next around islands that were once mountain tops.
We saw freshwater crocodiles sunning themselves in the late afternoon sunlight, seven-spotted archer fish in the shallows and rock wallabies grazing on the shore.
In late September the water in the lake is a comfortable 26 degrees, and with beverages, cheese and crackers within easy reach, a swim was a highlight of our cruise.
As the sun went down on the western side of Lake Argyle, the colours were deepened by smoke from bushfires in the hills,
while on the eastern shore, a full moon rose over the mountains of the East Kimberleys. This beautiful landscape is larger than life!