The Magic of Lake Argyle Kununurra will stay with you forever

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If you’re visiting the Kimberley region of Western Australia and wondering what to do, then a visit to Lake Argyle Kununurra is a destination not to be skipped.

This is the largest lake in Western Australia and the second largest freshwater lake in Australia.

Aerial view of Lake Argyle, The Kimberley at sunset
Credit: Tourism WA

It’s remote, wild and beautiful. With no cell service or internet, you can simply unplug and unwind, and let the magic of the lake stay with you forever.

But visiting this lake is not just a matter of turning up. If you’re thinking of visiting Lake Argyle, then keep reading to learn about our experience on a sunset tour of the lake.

About Lake Argyle

A body of water

Lake Argyle is a man-made freshwater lake created by the damming of the Ord River Dam for an irrigation scheme. Visit here to get an understanding of the amount of water that falls in the Top End of Australia.

It blows my mind after growing up in an area of Australia that is on constant water restrictions.

Every second, water equivalent to what the whole of Australia uses in a day is passed through the turbines that power the electricity in the mighty Ord River area.

Holy hell.

So bloody impressive.

So was the landscape.

Is Lake Argyle Worth It?

Swimmer at infinity pool looking at view of Lake Argyle, East Kimberley
Credit: Tourism WA

Only hours before arriving in Lake Argyle, I was ready to quit traveling. The challenges of the road were getting on top of me.

But, this was the interruption to show me why it was worth sticking it out.

We had never heard of Lake Argyle, until our Facebook community started whispering reasons why we should go.

What? Where is this place?

As soon as I saw photos, I knew I HAVE to go here.

Lake Argyle is still something of a hidden gem in Australia and that’s why anyone thinking of visiting should add it to their bucket list.

It may be man-made, but the size and beauty of this immense freshwater lake are mind-blowing, and for that reason, I do think Lake Argyle is worth visiting.

What is special about Lake Argyle?

waves in a lake made by a boat

Lake Argyle is still a hidden gem in Australia. It’s one of the largest man-made lakes in the southern hemisphere. Not only that, but the lake is home to 70+ islands.

I thought it would be a day trip, but it became clear that this was a place you could easily spend more time in, letting the power of nature and the beauty of the lake soak you up.

Everything about the lake just oozes an air of calmness.

We were devastated that, upon driving to Lake Argyle from the Northern Territory, we heard there was no internet connection at the lake. Which is also part of its charm as it allows you to disconnect and switch off.

Unfortunately, huge deadlines meant we could not go without being offline for such an extended period of time, so we had to divert and stay at Kununurra. The challenges of our travel blog business.

About the Sunset Cruise with Lake Argyle Tours

Aerial View of Lake Argyle Cruises, near Kununurra
Credit: Tourism Australia

Lake Argyle Tours and Boat Cruises have been taking tourists out onto the since the Dam was first filled in in 1973.

Their experienced boat captains know these waters like no one else, as well as the old landscape, environment and history of the area.

The sunset cruise with Lake Argyle tours is a bucket list experience. We’d never heard of Lake Argyle until a passing traveller told us it was their favourite place on their whole Australian road trip.

But, after a hot day at our caravan park in Kununurra we decided to drive out for a dip in their infinity pool – noted as one of the best in Australia.

Just so you know, this pool is at the caravan sites, not a luxury resort, so it’s accessible to everyone.

We arrived hungry, and stopped for some lunch at the cafe attached to the caravan park, opting to wait to look at the pool.

But, just as we were about to go to the pool, a spot had opened up and we were asked to join the sunset cruise, with only two minutes to get on the departing bus.

We totally missed the infinity pool.

But we were gifted with something so much more amazing instead. This one random afternoon turned into a memory that we’ll talk about for the rest of our lives.

Our Experience Visiting Lake Argyle

people swimming in lake argyle

We climbed aboard a purpose-built vessel called the “Kimberley Durack” which allows you to glide across the waters without disturbing the wildlife.

After two hours of cruising past the Bay of Islands, and miles of water and cliffs our tour guide Josh rolled out a map to show how much of the lake we had covered.

He had warned us, that at this time of the year, at the end of the dry season, it was low and only the size of 11 Sydney Harbours.

I thought we must have covered almost all of that on the cruise, but the map showed us we had only touched just under a third! Wowee.

We’d just jumped into the middle of Lake Argyle, the largest artificial lake in Australia by volume. The sun was setting and I was feeling a little euphoric.

Our tour guide, Josh was tossing out beers and passing glasses of wine to us all as we floated, enjoying the refreshing swim – even at 25 degrees the water was cool to the 35 degree baking hot Eastern Kimberley day.

craig and kalyra swimming in lake argyle

“Are there crocodiles in here?” Savannah inquisitively asked after a few strokes of treading water.

I was holding on to her, our legs wrapped around a noodle to help us stay afloat. Freshwater doesn’t have the buoyancy of salt water.

Especially when deep water is below you and you’re relying on floating pretty heavily.

“Yes there are crocs in here.”

She looked at me like I was mad. The months of my lectures about never going near the river’s edge because of saltwater crocodiles had obviously sunken in.

“Will they bite my toes?”

I chuckled. “Not these ones darling. There are only freshwater crocs in Lake Argyle and they won’t come near you. Mummy will always keep you safe and will let you know if you can swim or not, so always listen to me first. Freshwater crocodiles are gentle and scared of you.”

“Oh okay.”

So we kept swimming. She smiled and laughed and just let her normal fear of the water melt away.

makepeace family swimming in a lake

The sun was going down behind the red sandstone escarpment and we were swimming in a pool of water that is home to over 25,000 freshwater crocodiles.

caroline looking at lake argyle sunset
orange sunset over lake argyle

I think swimming in Lake Argyle at sunset was one of the most liberating and coolest moments of my life. It was certainly one of the highlights of our trip around Australia.

And here I was experiencing the breathtaking views with my two daughters whilst taking in the amazing marine environment.

I wish I had binoculars, so I could get a better up-close look at the birdlife and wildlife that call its shores home.

It’s not just freshwater crocodiles you need to watch out for, there are also rock wallabies, kangaroos and other native Aussie wildlife that frequent the shores here.

mountain next to a lake

I was wowed.

Not just by the tour and the incredible sunset experience, but by water – the immensity and intensity of it.

lake argyle

I had such a feeling of peace and a returning to home.

Craig and I lived in the other end of the Kimberley region in 2004 working on a Paspaley pearl farm.

The magic of this region runs so strong in my veins. It’s a place where there is no right or wrong, no striving or competition, no cares or problems, it’s just a sense of being in the right place.

The landscape here is over 600 million years old. That is perfection and I welcome the privilege of being a part of it. It makes me feel safe because no matter the impermanence of my own life, I can turn to those golden mountains and understand strength and power.

When you’re here in this perfect isolation you never have to fear or dread that the world will give you anything but perfection.

The light dimmed as we cruised back to the jetty and the sunset and ripple effects of the water put on an amazing show.

Total magic.

blood orange Sunset on Lake Argyle

FAQs About Visiting Lake Argyle

Here’s what people usually ask us about visiting Lake Argyle…

When is the best time to visit Lake Argle?

The best time of year to see Lake Argyle is during the dry season in June to August, but to avoid the crowds, try visiting in late April and May, or September, to avoid the crowds.

How much is it to go to Lake Argyle?

You can visit Lake Argyle yourself without a tour by visiting Lake Argyle Resort on the shores of the lake. You don’t have to stay at the resort to visit the lake, but you will need to pay $12 AUD per day to use its facilities.

What is the main use of Lake Argyle?

The lake is used as a source of irrigation for the surrounding plains.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Lake Argyle

water in a desert

I just hope that you don’t have to plan your trip around internet connection. If you have that freedom then please stay just a little while longer at Lake Argyle.

Go swim with crocodiles, soak up that infinity pool and the magic of this special part of a special region of the world.

You might just not want to leave.

Check rates and availability here for a stay at Lake Argyle Resort – the front row seat to Outback paradise.

P.S.  DON’T EVER swim where SALTWATER crocodiles are! Click here to read more about dangerous animals in Australia.

More Western Australia Travel Tips

If you’re planning to visit other parts of Western Aus, here are some other helpful guides…

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