Lake Wendouree can only be described as a beautiful expanse of water. It covers a large area and is a focal point for the city. Until recently the lake had dried up but increased rainfall with the addition of recycled water has boosted the lakes level to around half. The council is also improving much of the foreshore making it even better to walk around and enjoy.
Originally a swamp (Black Swamp) providing water to the aborigines and local fauna including kangaroos. Lake Wendouree’s transformation into a lake was gradual following the needs of the white settling community. In the mid 1800s a dam was put across to supply Ballarat with water.
As the township grew so was the need for more water (times never change do they). Underground pipes supplied water to the lake from other water catchments to help supply it’s increased size and during drought of 1869 the depth was increased. The large gums were removed and replaced with English trees supplying the beautiful trees now seen while walking the lake.
Enough of the history. You can still take a ride on a paddlesteamer and trams still go around the lake. A walk around the lake is around 6 kms and the toilets are quite a way apart, so go before you walk. For those who like to run the lake has a running track called the Steve Moneghetti Running Born in Ballarat and still living there, Steve has set the pace around the track for others to aspire to (6 km lap of the lake in 16 minutes and 10 seconds set in 1992
if you must know). But if you’re like me and prefer a walk, start at the Lake Pavillion or the Boatshed Restaurant so you can finish there for a coffee and treat. You don’t have to kill yourself – just walk from one to the other.
Wendoree Parade, Ballarat VIC 3350 Open on Everyday
Lake Jubilee is a spring fed as well as creek so it always has water even during the driest periods. The lake was originally constructed for the water supply to the goldfields in the 1800s. It is similar in size to Lake Daylesford and just as impressive to view and explore. You can walk around the lake in around 30 minutes.
There are a couple of viewing platforms over the water which you can fish from although my favorite has always been the old train bridge. The bridge is no longer in use commercially but you can walk at a lower level to get across the lake. At this point the water cascade down a small water fall as it heads off to Lake Daylesford.
I haven’t walked around the lake for a while so it may have improved but the path could be very overgrown, muddy and slippery. I always managed to get around but you are very close to the edge so where shoes or boots that offer good grip. If you are willing to give it a try it is well worth the effort.
It is not recommended to swim in the lake because of cold currents and the depth. Many locals and visitors do swim there but be aware that people have drowned so the warnings are not there for no reason. A safer alternative is to hire a canoe or a paddle boat and spend some time on the tranquil water. Don’t take your mobile phone as they are regularly lost and sink to the bottom.
The entrance to the lake is via the caravan park which offers a very inexpensive way to holiday with views over the water. Facilities at the park include toilets, showers, and playground. There is a huge grassed area where you can play with a frisbee or kick a ball. For those with more energy you can hike for kilometres in several different directions. If you walk down the side of the lake it leads to a mineral water pump if you want to give it a try. On the taste test it is one of the better ones.
151 Lake Rd, Daylesford VIC 3460 Open on Everyday
I know it sounds silly but I didn’t know Daylesford had a lake until around my 3rd visit. Getting to a workshop too early another participant suggested a coffee at the lake. “What lake? “ I asked. Next thing I was sitting over the water at the Boathouse drinking coffee watching ducks on the lake with Wombat Forest in the background. Wow!
So if you don’t want to appear like a ninny as I do then check it out on your first visit. This is THE lake that people drive to visit Daylesford for. Accommodation and dining in the town is at a premium if it has lake views and if you look around you can understand why. Photos from the past showed the path around the lake lit at night and I would suggest this be looked at reinstating again.
The first Boathouse Cafe burnt down but a new one has risen from the ashes. Not that you need eat or drink to enjoy the lake – that’s just my way of getting maximum enjoyment from an attraction. If you don’t want to spend at the cafe and are better prepared than I ever am there are many seats around the lake (make sure you bring some bread for the ducks) as well as barbecue areas including one under a chinese pergola.
A walk around the lake takes around 40 minutes, even less if you like to keep your blood pressure high. The track can get a bit bumpy and the elevation steep but most people would get around it comfortably. Although not promoted well the lake extends across the other side of the bridge and is worth a further 10 minute walk. This is where the more expensive accommodation exists and although maybe not intended has a feeling of exclusivity. So make sure you do take it in.
Lake Daylesford started out as a gold mine until the gold ran out and it became a Chinese market selling fresh vegetables to the local market. After some time it was flooded and used for recreation as evidenced by the swimming area and change rooms at the far end. Swimming is no longer recommended due to the depth and cold currents with several fatalities in recent decades. Please take serious note of the signs.
A safer way to enjoy the water is to hire a paddleboat or canoe from the boathouse and stay above the water. Curious note – don’t take your mobile phone out on the water as many,many people have dropped them into the water and watched their demise as the sink into the murky depths. .
Bleaky St, Daylesford VIC 3460 Open on Everyday