We are jetlagged and jaundice – it has been 2 hours without fruit! Gasping we arrive in Lake Argyle. It’s Grand Final Day.
We don’t follow the footy. But we do follow the crowd. Straight to the pub.
We meet up with fellow travellers again Bart and Ange – comparing tans and itineraries as we keep one eye on the footy scores and the other on the range of pale ales at the bar.
This campground gets a big thumbs up from the Squids. And us. Grassy sites. The perfumed waft of bougainvillea and frangipani.
And the pool. The. Pool.
Damn that’s a big in-land sea you have there
Lake Argyle was formed by the damming of the Ord River in 1972. Covering over 1000 square km’s, it’s the largest constructed lake in Australia and classed as an inland sea.
Not content to enjoy the view from the horizon pool, we take advantage of the school holiday Kids Cruise Free offer and step aboard a boat driven by Jack, our laconic tour guide.
Jack keeps the commentary coming, and the soft drinks for the kids. It’s our turn later when it’s nibbles and drinks at sunset!
Lake Argyle is home to over 26 species of native fishes, as well as an estimated 30, 000 Johnston Freshwater Crocodiles, 3 varieties of freshwater tortoises, and on the island banks, Rock wallabies, and Euros (Wallaroos) as well as countless birdlife.
It’s a designated RAMSAR wetland of International Significance.
The lake was filled as part of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme in 1974 and forms as a strange reservoir for the for the Ord irrigation area.
But the whole time we are floating out here on this impressive water I can’t help but think … All this for melons? What the hell else are they growing?
I do discover later in Kununura that ORIA (the Ord River Irrigation Area) is also responsible for producing chia, sandlewood, kidney beans, zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins, corn, paw paw, citrus, mangoes, chickpeas, green beans, cut flowers and turf and hybrid seed production like sorghum, maize and sunflowers.
We motor on. Jack, pulls down a chart, using his teacher pointer to demonstrate how far we have – or haven’t come.
“Jesus” remarks a 10yo
“Exactly the response I was looking for,” remarks Jack.
We have our own religious experience just minutes later when Jack kills the motor and we leap from the roof of our boat into the still waters of Lake Argyle.
If one were to paint this country in its true colours, I doubt it would ever be believed. It would be said at least the artist exaggerated greatly, for never have I seen such richness and variety of hue as in the ranges.”
– An extract from the novel Kings in Grass Castles, by Dame Mary Durack.*
This is possibly the most surreal travel experience of our travels, floating at sunset in a body of water 19 times the size of Sydney Harbour.
There’s not a single bit of evidence of human impact on the landscape surrounding us, but the irony is that we are bobbing in a man-made lake.
It is a sunset we will never forget.
A sensational cruise with much laughter and learning, croc eggs, wallaroos, bird spotting and leaping of the roof of the boat in the middle of a vast water wilderness, with the impressive Carr-Boyd Ranges in the distance!! But I still think it’s a conspiracy of sorts – all that water!
* We check out the Durack Homestead the next day, now called the Argyll Homestead Museum. The 1880’s former home of the Durack family, who were a prominent pastoral family, was moved in the 1970’s from Argyle Downs Station to allow for construction of Lake Argyle.