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  • Aug5

    Cruisin' on Lake Argyle

    August 5, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Today we hung out in Kununurra and surrounds. First up was a quick trip to the local Coles for some urgent chocolate supplies and then we were ready. We went for a trip out to the Ivanhoe Crossing of the Ord River. Usually this is closed but the water was down a bit so 4 wheel drives and buses could get across.

    This section to the river has salt water crocs but that didn’t seem to bother a couple of the local kids who were swimming at the crossing. Even though this is the dry season there is still a lot of water coming through.

    Next we had a quick visit to Kelly’s Knob which gives a good view over the town of Kununurra.

    Our afternoon’s entertainment was a cruise on Lake Argyle. This Lake was formed in the 1960s by the damming of the Ord River and it is massive.

    There are 2 dams on the Ord River. The lower one is called the Diversion Dam as it was built to store water that would be pumped, or diverted, into the main irrigation channel that runs out to the crops. This dam holds back Lake Kununurra and is where we cruised last night. The upper dam is the Lake Argyle Dam which is far and away the bigger of the two. The main dam holds back about 21 Sydney Harbours full of water though at full load it could go to 40 Sydney Harbours. As a comparison, Warragamba Dam in Sydney - one of the largest domestic water storages in the world - holds about 4 Sydney Harbours.

    It was built for the total cost of about $22 million which was very cheap. Most of the material to build the wall - clay, sand, and rock - was all available on site so there was no need to transport anything. The dam wall is quite small at only 300m wide and about 94m tall. Instead of spillways beside the dam there is actually a system of spillways in valleys around the dam so if the dam gets over full the excess water runs down the valleys and rejoins the Ord River downstream.

    The dam as a large population of freshwater crocs and we managed to spot a few of them sunning themselves on the shore. There where also a range of fish species. The captain of the boat gave us all some bread and said to hold it over the side of the boat but not to drop it into the water and after a minute we were getting squirted! The lake is home to the seven spotted archer fish which squirt water at bugs along the water's edge trying to knock them into the water and clearly they have learnt tourist boats offer a good source of food. There are also a couple of species of cat fish but no Barramundi as they require access to salt water in order to breed.

    Our cruise on the lake included some drinks and watching the sunset. A fantastic afternoon.

    Tomorrow it is Purnululu and the Bungles!
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