Natural Tasmania: Lakes

Largest lakes (area)

(a) Man-made
(b) Natural lake enlarged by dams

Lake Gordon (a): 271 km2
Lake Pedder( b): 239 km2
Great Lake (b):v 170 km2
Arthurs Lake (b): 64 km2
Lake Sorell (b): 52 km2
Lake Burbury (a): 49 km2
Lake King William (a): 42 km2h
Lake Echo (b): 40 km2
Lake Mackintosh (a): 30 km2
Lake St Clair (b): 30 km2
Lake Pieman (a): 22 km2

The lakes featured are some of the more well known or most visited in Tasmania.

Lake St Clair

Tasmania's most famous lake is a major attraction of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It is the deepest lake in Australia (190 metres) and the headwaters of the Derwent River, upon which the capital city of Tasmania is located. Lake St Clair is believed to have been scooped out during several glaciations over the past two million years. High dolerite cliffs rise sheer from the water and there is a drowned moraine at the southern end. The area around Lake St Clair offers a wealth of walks, ranging from leisurely strolls to overnight bushwalks, as well as beautiful forests to explore. Lake St Clair is also the end point of the famous Overland Track, a long-distance walk which runs from Cradle Mountain in the north to Cynthia Bay on the southern shore of Lake St Clair. There is a regular ferry the length of the lake, used by visitors and by walkers on the Overland Track who like to do a little of their trek by water.

Dove Lake

Dove Lake lies beneath the towering spires of Cradle Mountain in Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park. The lake is easily accessed along the 6km Dove Lake Ciruit Track, which is one of Tasmania's most popular walks. The often-photographed boatshed that stands on the northwestern shores of Lake Dove was built in 1940 by the first Ranger at Cradle Mountain, Lionell Connell. The shed was built largely of King Billy pine. Although some restoration work was completed in 1983, the shed remains substantially unaltered from its original form.

Great Lake

Great Lake, one of literally hundreds of lakes in the Central Highlands, has the distinction of being the highest lake in Australia and, until the HEC drowned Lake Pedder, it was also the largest freshwater lake in the country (22km long). It is a mecca for anglers, the trout fishing in Great Lake itself is excellent (as it is in most of the waters in this central highlands region) it is renowned for its summer ‘hatches’ of Highland Dun mayflies and the fat, speckled brown trout that dine greedily upon them. The Great Lake attracts fly-casting visitors from across the country and around the world.

Lake Pedder

The major feature of the Upper Gordon River Hydro-Electric Scheme, is named after Sir John Pedder, the first Chief Justice of Tasmania. The name of the original lake has been transferred to the new man-made impoundment. Although the new Lake Pedder incorporates the original lake, it does not resemble it in size, appearance or ecology. It consists of a large water catchment contained by three dams - the Serpentine, Scotts Peak and Edgar Dams. The dams were built as part of the Upper Gordon River power development scheme to provide hydro-electricity. These dams were completed in 1972. The new impoundment is joined with Lake Gordon by McPartlan Canal, and together both lakes are the biggest water-storage catchment in Australia. Little Blue Lake

Located on Gladstone Road, between Pioneer and Gladstone in North East Tasmania, Little Blue Lake is a remnant from tin mining in the area. It was once an alluvial tine mine, but has flooded after the mine was abandoned. One of many similar lakes in the area, its pretty blue colour is caused when the white clay, exposed by tin mining operations reflects the clear blue of the sky. The area has an extensive history of tin mining operations. Unfortunately the water is unsafe for drinking and swimming as it is high in aluminium, a mineral leached from the decomposing granite.(its real name) isn't really that little, actually its quite big.

Lake Geeves

Lake Geeves is one of 30 or so lakes nestled high and deep in the heart of south-west Tasmania's World Heritage Area. The lake is quite literally at the foot of Federation Peak - the drop from the top of this rocky crag to the lake below is an awe-inspiring 600 metres; this jagged chunk of solid quartzite is the biggest cliff face in Australia. The photo (right) was not taken from the top of Federation Peak but from about half way down Geeves Gully! While not the highest mountain in Tasmania, Federation Peak is probably Australia's most recognisable and distinctive. The top is only 1300 metres above sea level, but with its sharp spire and 600 metre cliffs, it is the most highly desired summit in Tasmania among climbers. Lake Geeves, like the town of the same name 45 Km south of Hobart, was named after an Englishman, William Geeves who arrived in the colony in 1842, and settled in Geeveston in response to a request from Lady Franklin for somebody to establish a church in the district.

Lake Burbury

Man-made lakes can be as pretty as natural lakes, as Lake Burbury attests. It was created by the Crotty Dam made by Hydro Tasmania inundating the upper King River valley that lies east of the West Coast Range. It's waters feed the John Butters Hydroelectric Power Station. The lake is fed mainly by rivers from the north, including the upper King River, and the Eldon River. It has a surface area of 54 square kilometres. Lake Burbury is popular as a fishing lake, but is susceptible to extreme weather. Travellers pass the lake on the way to the west coast from Hobart.

Lake Oberon

Like Lake Geeves, Lake Oberon is situated high in the West Arthur range in the wilderness area of south-western Tasmania. Many of the mountain lakes in the Arthurs are named after the planets and their satellites, the smaller after the asteroids and peaks after the constellations. For those who brave the elements and trek though the range, these names seem strangely appropriate, given the extra-terrestrial feeling one gets when hiking across the mountain tops of this breathtaking region. Few return believing there is another walk in Australia that can top this one.

The serenity of alpine lakes nestling below some of the most awesome and jagged skyline is a sight one never forgets. Lake Oberon itself seems to capture the mood of the Arthurs, peaceful enough at first, but a storm can be conjured up within hours, and then it becomes a Darth Vader-like gatekeeper for the jagged ridges of Mt Pegasus, Mt Capricorn and Tilted Chasm.

Lake Gordon

Lake Gordon was formed in the late 1960s with the building of the Gordon Dam across the Gordon River. The dam has a length of 192 m (630 ft), and a height of 140 metres, making it the tallest dam in Tasmania and the fifth-tallest in Australia. Water from the dam drops 183 metres underground into its power station, where three turbines of 144 MW generates up to 432 MW of power, covering about 13% of the electricity demand of Tasmania. The first two turbines were commissioned in 1978, before the third was commissioned a decade later in 1988.