Since leaving the Gibb River Road we spent a few days in and around Kununurra re-stocking and visiting some local tourist attractions. We umm-ed and arrrr-ed about whether we should head back down the Great Northern Highway to the Bungle Bungles, or head towards Darwin. After speaking to some other people in the caravan park and looking at similar type of rock formations in the small but very pretty Mirima National Park right in Kununurra, we decided to give the Bungle Bungles a miss and headed out to Lake Argyle Dam for some further R’n’R.
Lake Argyle Tourist Resort is a nice little ‘resort’ sitting close to the Dam wall. Its ‘Infinity Pool’ is a magnet to everyone who visits here. It’s in a fantastic location with a spectacular view of the lake and surrounds. We lazed around for a few days, swam in the pool, washed the Kimberley dust of the 4WD, watched the wedding of the caravan park boss’s daughter and booked in for a lake sunset cruise on Mother’s Day. Susan visited the old Durack Homestead from the Argyle Downs station. It had been re-located to higher ground when the dam was built as it was going to be under 20m of water when the dam filled. As it was, they only got time to move the Homestead building, with all the other out buildings and infrastructure left behind because water level rose so quickly!
The sunset cruise on the lake has been another memorable highlight of our trip. I don’t think we could have had the weather any better. It was about 32 degC, no wind, just perfect, and the pictures show it. When we moved into to some of the sheltered bays, the water was so still that the reflections produced nearly mirror images. The ‘skipper’ was excellent and very informative, also lives in Queensland during the wet season, and Charlotte being the only child on board, made sure she got to ‘skipper’ the boat for a while, which made her trip. We spotted and got close to a couple of crocodiles, fed some fish while having afternoon tea, cruised some secluded bays, fed some trapped Euro’s on one of the islands, and finally went swimming in the 30 degC water while the sun set with drinks and nibbles to boot. Just perfect!
Lake Argyle is absolutely massive. It is 74kms long and 40 kms wide, currently holding about 19 Sydney harbours worth of water at the moment. When at capacity it can hold over twice this amount and keep the irrigation scheme going for about 5 to 6 years without rain. During the big wet of 2010/11 the water was rushing 9m over the spillway! The Kununurra Diversion dam was built first in the 1950’s I think 40 kms down the Ord river, to divert water into the irrigation channels through Kununurra’s flood plains. Stage one of the Argyle dam was built in the early 60’s as back-up storage dam for the Kununurra Diversion dam. Stage 2 added 6m to the dam wall to increase head pressure for a hydroelectric generation plant. This was completed in the late 60’s. The hydroelectric plant was primarily built for the Argyle Diamond mine operation, but supplies power to Kununurra and Wyndham as well.
Ord River Gorge and Dam Wall
Did you know … #10?
A pioneer family member, Kimberley Durack, was the visionary of Lake Argyle in the 1940’s on the family station ‘Argyle Downs’ (now mostly under water).