Lake Argyle, Australia
Understand why Lake Argyle exists before joining a small group package tour for mature and senior travellers of Western Australia's Kimberley region in the preferred dry season. Limited to 12 travellers for your peace of mind we learn about the landscapes and the aboriginal stories often via the rock art in far North.
24 Apr 20 · 4 mins read
Lake Argyle, Australia
An immense man-made reservoir in the remote East Kimberley, Australia, Lake Argyle has transformed the surrounding landscape, creating a beautiful marine environment and refuge for local fauna.
The traditional Aboriginal owners of the lands around what is now Lake Argyle are the Miriwoong Gajerrong peoples, who called the Ord River Goonoonoorrang. European settlers first came to the region in the late 19th century, following an 1879 report by Alexander Forrest, claiming that he had found over 10 million hectares of fertile land around the Ord River, near the Northern Territory border. Cattlemen and graziers from the east trekked to the new region, establishing the cattle empires of the Kimberley.
The land proved to be harsher than in Forrest’s report. While in the wet season, the lower reaches of the Ord River supported fertile lands, in the dry, the river would reduce to a series of waterholes. Without some way to harness the waters of the wet season, there was no way that the region could support an agricultural industry.
In 1959, the Australian Government gave permission and a grant to dam the Ord River. The Ord River Irrigation Scheme, led by the Western Australia government, began work soon after. A spot on the river, about 80 km from the Kimberley coast, was chosen to be flooded. The project saw the region transformed, as the town of Kununurra was established as a residence and service centre for the thousands of workers who contributed to the project. Controversially, the local Miriwoong Aboriginal people were not consulted about the project.
The Ord River Dam (or Lake Argyle) was completed in 1972. It is the second-largest man-made reservoir (by volume) in Australia, after Lake Gordon in Tasmania, and holds 32 million cubic metres of water (about twenty times the size of Sydney Harbour!).
In 1996, Lake Argyle became a source of hydroelectricity for the Kimberley region, a clean and renewable source of energy.
Since the completion of the project, Lake Argyle has developed an incredible and intricate eco-system. The Ord River pools had been home to small populations of freshwater crocodiles (or as the locals call them, ‘freshies’). Since the development of Lake Argyle, this has risen to a population of over 35, 000 freshwater crocodiles. While freshies are mostly harmless, occasionally a rather more fearsome saltwater crocodile (or ‘saltie’) can be found lurking! The lake is also home to several forms of fish – including barramundi, southern saratoga, archer fish, forktail cat fish, mouth almighty, long tom, bony bream and sleepy cod.
The Lake Argyle region, including surrounding mudflats and grasslands, has been declared by BirdLife International as an ‘Important Bird Area’. It is home to over 240 species of birds – almost 1/3 of Australia’s known species. Birds found in the region include magpie geese, Australian bustards, wandering whistling-ducks, Australian pelicans, black swans, egrets, and wedge-tailed eagles.
An easy day tour at about 40 minutes drive from Kununurra, Lake Argyle can be explored via lake cruise, scenic flight, or walking trail.
If you’re interested in learning more about the fascinating Kimberley region, why not join one of our Kimberley outback tours? Odyssey Traveller’s tour of the Kimberley begins in the Indian Ocean town of Broome, before winding up the beautiful (Timor Sea) Kimberley coast to Cape Leveque and the Dampier Peninsula, home to several Aboriginal communities and pearling towns. We then head inland on the infamous Gibb River Road, visiting Windjana Gorge National Park, Tunnel Creek National Park, Galvans Gorge and Bell Gorge. We make a side trip to the remote Mitchell Plateau, home to Mitchell Falls, one of the area’s most spectacular waterfalls.
Back on the Gibb River Road, we spend the night in El Questro, a former cattle station converted into a wilderness park centred around Emma Gorge, Chamberlain Gorge, and the Pentecost River. El Questro offers a variety of accommodation, from tented cabins to luxury suites in the old El Questro homestead. Finally, we head to Purnululu National Park, where we see the Bungle Bungles, Echidna Chasm, Cathedral Gorge, and the Piccaninny Creek Lookout, before heading back to the west Kimberley.
What sets an Odyssey Tour apart is that we don’t just jump from tourist site to tourist site, but take the time to uncover the hidden histories and quirkly local culture of our destination. On our Kimberley tour we delve into the history of the area at the towns of Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing (on the Fitzroy River). We have the privilege of viewing Aboriginal rock art believed to be among the oldest works of art in the world. We also learn about the tragic impacts of colonisation at the Boab Prison Tree.
Our tour ends in Broome, giving you the opportunity to explore Cable Beach, Roebuck Bay and Gantheaume Point, and delve into the fascinating history of this pearling town before you get back to daily life, wherever that might be.
Odyssey Traveller has been serving world travellers since 1983. Our tours are designed especially for mature and senior travellers. We move in small groups, and are led by tour guides chosen especially for their local knowledge. Contact us to find our more information about our tour of the Kimberley, or our Australia outback tours.
Articles about the Kimberley and Australia published by Odyssey Traveller:
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to the Kimberley:
Aboriginal Rock Art in the Kimberley, Australia
The Kimberley is explored on a small group tour for mature and senior travelers, couples or singles. Both Aboriginal community is studied and an appreciation of the wet and dry seasons. This guide on the Kimberley assists the traveler as you start from Broome and travel round via Halls creek and Purnunulu national park over some 17 days in a group of up to 12 people.
Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
To enter Arnhem land a permit is required for visitors. Explore and learn about the Aboriginal community in Arnhem land as part of a small group package tour that includes Darwin and the Kakadu. These are small group tours of upto 12 like minded mature and senior travellers, couples or solo travellers interested in exploring as they tour.
Aboriginal history and culture of Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
For those seek to learn as they travel then the history of the Aboriginal journey and timelines that unfold as a discovery in Australia seek to fascinate the mature and senior traveller on a small group package tour for couples and singles. From Darwin, this tour also visits Arnhem land as well as Kakadu, during the dry season.
Natural landscapes of Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Article about a unique RAMSAR landscape and UNESCO world heritage site explored and part of a small group tour for mature and senior travellers couples and singles based in Darwin. Landscape, wildlife, and aboriginal history and settlement plus African mystery are part of this and other articles on Kakadu.
Purnululu National Park, Australia
The Australian Outback: A Definitive Guide
Explore learn and consider what is the outback in this article. For mature and senior travelers considering joining a small group package tours into the outback to see, learn and explore about this unique place, not only the landscape but the Aboriginal approach to living. On each of the tours for couples and the single traveler you learn something different but fascinating, from Outback Queensland, the Flinders, Broken Hill and the Kimberley and the wildflowers all contribute to this question, what is the outback?
The Kimberley: A Definitive Guide
This article supports the small group package tours for mature and senior travellers, couples and solo travellers to Western Australia's Kimberley region. Learn about the wet and dry seasons and the fascinating Aboriginal history as well as the Bungle Bungles, Lake Argyle, Halls creek and resort of Broome.
Uncovering the ancient history of Aboriginal Australia
Wet and dry seasons in the Kimberley, Australia
Learn about the wet and dry season in the Kimberley to support your understanding of the Aboriginal communities lifestyle as you explore on a small group package tour for mature and senior travelers exploring as a couple or solo traveller. Read our peace of mind statement for post covid-19 travel.