We recently spend a few days at Lake Awoonga out of Gladstone when travelling between the Wide Bay and Capricorn Coast and were super impressed with what we found here. It’s an absolute dream for nature lovers, birders, boaties, SUPs, Kayakers, fishermen or those just looking for a lakefront retreat to chill out for a few days.
Lake Awoonga was created in the early 1950s when a 12-metre concrete dam was built in the Boyne River, it was extended to its current capacity in the mid-1980s covering 16,700 acres. It’s located just 30 minutes from Gladstone or a 20-minute drive from Tannum Sands. It’s an easy 8 km detour inland from the Bruce Highway (Pacific Coast Way) on a sealed road with only gentle slopes, there’s no difficulty getting out here either towing or with a motorhome.
You will want to be stocked for your trip though, as only ice and bait are available at the camp office and the kiosk down in the recreational park was still closed in October 2021 with no signs of imminent reopening.
Lake Awoonga Caravan Park
The Lake Awoonga Caravan Park is located on the hill above the recreational area and lake offering some great views from many of the campsites and picnic tables dotted around. It’s around a 500-metre walk down to the recreation area at the bottom which is beautifully presented and maintained with picnic gazebos, wood-fired BBQ’s, toilet facilities and a kiosk that is open seasonally.
It can feel like a bit of a push back up the hill again if you walk down but it’s only 500 metres and that elevation provides some wonderful cooling breezes up in the caravan park that are really appreciated particularly in the summer months.
The campsite is well supplied with an amenities block comprising showers, toilets and a coin-operated laundry. There are 2 camp kitchen facilities and communal fire pits for guest use.
If you’re travelling self-contained there is a dump point but it’s back up by the road so it is a bit of a walk from the end sites with your cassette and you’ll need to detour to grab the key from the office on the way.
We had site 36 right on the tree line overlooking the lake and had pretty-face (whiptail) wallabies wandering around grazing in view of our breakfast table each morning. There are also a lot of birds and other wildlife around you can spot right from your campsite.
Lake Awoonga Recreational Area
The recreation area is kept immaculate and the facilities here are extensive. You’ll also likely see a diversity of wildlife in the area which is why domestic pets aren’t allowed. Signs on the boom gate at the entrance state vehicle access is between 7 am and 8 pm but the pedestrian gate didn’t appear to lock.
Around the lake’s edge shady pagodas and picnic tabes have been placed at various elevations to enjoy the breeze and view, there is BBQ’s adjacent to all of them with a choice of electric or wood-fired and chopped wood provided in bins nearby.
There are toilet facilities, a children’s play area and easy access to the water for swimming and launching light watercraft such as kayaks and SUPs. There are also walking tracks leading out from here around the edge of the lake in both directions.
The gardens in the area are beautifully presented including a manmade waterfall outside the kiosk area although the kiosk was closed when we visited and we understand it has been since early 2020.
Walking tracks at Lake Awoonga
You can follow wide red dirt and gravel walking tracks in either direction from the recreational area. To the right leads around under the campground and through to Ironbark Gully Park which is roughly a 4 km return walk.
At Ironbark Gully you’ll find even more covered picnic gazebos, BBQs with a supply of firewood provided, toilet facilities and a large children’s play park. From the parking area here you look across at the boat ramp and can continue around the lake edge to reach it.
If you head off to the left from the main recreational area you’ll pass more gazebos and picnic areas then follow the track around to the lookout for the dam wall and spillway.
Birds and wildlife in the area
There’s an exceptional variety of birds and wildlife around the campsite and lake. The whiptail or pretty-face wallabies are very common and do well on the sloped ground easily making their way up to the campground and down to the edge of the lake.
You may also see lizards, frogs, turtles, platypus, echidnas, butterflies, and koalas. We heard a lot of bat and sugar-glider activity in the trees above us at night and regretted not having a red filter with us for spotlighting.
Over 220 bird species have been identified around the lake including some endangered species such as the red goshawk and the southern squatter pigeon. We watched a family of tawny frogmouths just down the hill from our campsite and pheasant coucal, channel-billed cuckoo, red-backed fairywrens, striated pardalote and red-tailed black cockatoo were other frequent sightings for us.
Boaties and fishing on the lake
The boat ramp is 2 km by road beyond the turnoff for the campground and recreational area. They were some large sport boats being launched for water-skiing while we were there but for kayaks, SUPs or other light craft there’s an easy launch area you can put in from at the main recreational area, there’s no need to go out to the ramp.
As a catchment lake, it is generally pretty deep, up to 40 metres when it’s full but depth varies and as it’s a bit down at the moment after some low water years be aware of submerged hazards.
Fish have been stocked in the lake since the 1980s but not all species did well and now the Gladstone Area Water Board focus is mainly barramundi due to its high survival rate but they also hatch mangrove jack and sea mullet for release here. Other catches noted by fishermen in the area are Channel catfish, Black bream, Blue catfish and Jewfish.
Lake Awoonga isn’t currently on the Queensland Government list that requires a Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) to fish the lake but you can check the current status on the linked website.
It’s also the perfect spot for both kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding down at the water’s edge. The local hire business closed in 2020/21 and we’re still hoping someone will pick up the opportunity but if you have your own I’d definitely pack them.
Looking for some other great recreational lakes around Queensland? You might be interested in these:
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