The scenery is now changing on this Big Loop around Australia and the road to Lake Argyle turns off the highway and winds through the stunning Carr Boyd ranges. At every turn there is an amazing view and the colours of the soil together with the golden grasses and deep green of the thick shrubs would make an artist’s eyes water.
We crossed several water courses and finally came to the historic Argyle Downs Homestead. The home of the Durack family, this house was removed stone by stone when the property was flooded as part of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme and the formation of Lake Argyle. Now it has been rebuilt and and become a museum which serves as a reminder of the huge contribution that the family made in the pastoral industry of the North West.
Lake Argyle is Australia’s largest freshwater lake with a surface area of over 1000 sq. km and has a shoreline of 900kms. It is now home to around 26 species of native fish, 30,000 freshwater crocodiles and three varieties of freshwater tortoise. Hard to imagine that is was all once pastoral land which was home to native people, pastoralists and wildlife.
We stayed at the Lake Argyle Resort which has a beautiful infinity pool with views across the ranges and over the valley.
In the evenings the setting sun gives a golden glow to the landscape visible from every part of the property.
A great way to learn about Lake Argyle and the huge project undertaken some fifty years ago is to take a sunset cruise. We set off with an introductory talk and an explanation about the building of the dam wall which, in itself, was an amazing feat.
Then it was a calm cruise across the massive lake watching for wildlife and, of course, the crocodiles! A sheen across the water and in the trees at one particular spot revealed the story of the Golden Orb spider. This spider never leaves the web and spins a web made of silk like thread which is extremely strong and has been made into a silk fabric. Scientists are now working on making a synthetic prototype which may be used in the future.
We spotted a variety of water birds waiting for their prey and did a spot of fish feeding
The lake throws incredible reflections during the afternoon and today, being so calm, was the perfect example of this.
Our Guide and Skipper, Tracy, then gave a history of the area and the massive project which also resulted in several little islands being formed. She took us to “The Bay of Islands” and nudged the boat up onto the shore. Several little Walleroos came to investigate knowing that this was “feeding time”.
Then we spied a freshwater crocodile – these have longer more pointed snouts than their fearsome saltwater cousins and said to be shy of humans. Nevertheless, I don’t think I would like to get tangled up with one.
Having said that, Tracy motored to a bay she takes people swimming at and encouraged us all to take a dip. Crocodiles or not, we jumped in and felt the beautifully soft water cool us down very quickly.
The sun began to set and it was a magical time of day. With champagne or beer in hand it was the end of a day on Lake Argyle.