The 10 most incredible lake experiences in Australia

Australia loves its oceans. Whether it's whale-watching cruises, surf beaches or snorkelling on the Reef, some of the country's top experiences are out at sea. But turn your attention inland, and you can still take to the water. Australia's lakes provide a wealth of activities, adventures and oddities to throw yourself into.

Capital cruises

Where? Lake Burley Griffin, ACT

Lake Burley Griffin may be entirely artificial, but it doesn't half have a lot piled up around its edges. That makes it ideal for sight-seeing cruises. Lake Burley Griffin Cruises does this in a relatively environmentally friendly way, using electric boats to glide around the lake's most appealing spots. If you want to do it the posh way, you can take the two hour morning tea cruise departing from outside the Governor-General's residence. See lakecruises.com.au

Houseboating

Where? Lake Eildon, Victoria

Murrindindi Shire Houseboat cruising on Lake Eildon, Murrindindi Shire. Photo credit:Visit Victoria and Robert Blackburn

Houseboat cruising on Lake Eildon. Photo: Robert Blackburn

Houseboating is the equivalent of campervanning, but on the water. And, at Lake Eildon around two hours north-east of Melbourne, you don't need a boating licence to pootle around the lake in a houseboat. Hence it's very popular. The boats come with amenities such as burner stoves, gas-heated showers, outdoor dining furniture and TVs. Waters Edge Houseboat Hire is amongst several companies offering houseboat rentals. See houseboathireeildon.com.au

Barramundi fishing

Where? Lake Tinaroo, Queensland

In the Atherton Tableland, around an hour's drive from Cairns, Lake Tinaroo is notorious for its seriously huge barramundi. For an angler, therefore, this freshwater lake with over 200 kilometres of shoreline is pretty much heaven. Tinaroo Barra Sport Fishing runs fishing charter trips out on the lake, with the best catches usually found around sunrise and sunset. See tinaroobarra.com

Airboating

Where? Sweets Lagoon, Northern Territory

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Crocodile-spotting cruises in northern Australia are ten a penny. But Outback Floatplanes does things rather differently. Kicking off with a floatplane flight from Darwin, the tour lands on a special pontoon in Sweets Lagoon. From there, there's a switch of transport. A conventional wetlands cruise allows visitors to spot crocs and buffalo, but then comes the airboat ride, which is much faster and noisier, while allowing for some stunt turns. See outbackfloatplanes.com.au

Jetboating

Where? Lake Macquarie, New South Wales

Motor boats moored on a jetty on Lake Macquarie, Australia at sunset str4-lakemacquarie - Lake Macquarie?- Sheriden Rhodes Credit: iStock

Sunset on Lake Macquarie, Australia. Photo: iStock

Let's not pretend that jetboating is about seeing the beautiful natural environs of a lake in any detail. It's all about going really fast, splashing lots of water around and getting that lurching feeling from twists and turns. Jetbuzz on Lake Macquarie just south of Newcastle fulfils those requirements admirably, in a machine that pumps out 1200 litres of water every second and reaches speeds of 42 knots. See jetbuzz.com.au

Kayaking

Where? Lake Pedder, Tasmania

Lake Pedder was a unique glacial lake nine square kilometres in area with a beach of pink quartz sand three kilometres long and nearly one kilometre wide. The core and focal point of southwest Tasmania, Pedder was declared the Lake Pedder National Park in 1955, and incorporated into a new, and larger South West National Park in 1968. Lake Pedder was flooded in 1972 for a hydro-electric power scheme. The lake was placed within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in 1982. sunmay14covershort - best short breaks - Ute Junker Title: Lake Pedder with Mount Solitary in the background Mandatory credit: Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman

Lake Pedder, a unique glacial lake with a beach of pink quartz sand. Photo: Tourism Australia/Graham Freeman

Whisper it, but New Zealand has far better lake kayaking adventures than Australia. An honourable exception is Lake Pedder in the wild south-west of Tasmania. The lure here is the surrounding mountains. The water may have a brownish tinge to it, but it's the twinkling quartzite beaches and the end of the road wilderness feeling that make kayaking on Lake Pedder special. Tassie Bound runs day tours. See tassiebound.com.au

Swimming

Where? Lake McKenzie, Queensland

***Photo credit: Darren Jew / Tourism and Events Queensland***Please Archive

Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island

***Photos may be re-used for positive promotional travel stories relating to Queensland and Fraser Island. Must credit  Darren Jew / Tourism and Events Queensland

Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island, Queensland. Photo: Darren Jew

Plenty of Australian lakes are a decent bet for a swim, but those on Fraser Island are a level or two above. That's largely due to the pristine water quality, with the white silica sand at the bottom acting as a purifier for the rain water. It's so fresh and clean that you can drink the water of Lake McKenzie as you're swimming along. See visitfrasercoast.com

Scenic flights

Where? Lake Eyre, South Australia

Kati Thanda ? Lake Eyre in flood, 2018. The South Australian Outback has been transformed into a spectacular, colourful desert oasis with new wildlife and flora spanning 144 x 77 kilometres. The Lake only sees water every 3-10 years and only completely floods three times every 160 years. When the lake?s water level is low, its glittering crystalised surface stretches as far as the eye can see. When it floods, waterbirds descend in their thousands, fish converge in channels and wildflowers blanket floodplains. As water begins to evaporate, the lake takes-on a spectacular pink hue caused by a pigment found within a specific type of salt-loving algae.? South Australian Tourism.

Lake Eyre in flood: The lake sees water every three to 10 years and only completely floods three times every 160 years. Photo: Lachlan Swan

The world's largest salt lake covers vast expanses of the South Australian outback, and periodically springs into life, with floods filling it with water, and plant life booming. At other times, Lake Eyre is a spectacularly stark emptiness, with the shimmering salt pans giving it an otherworldly dazzle. It's best seen from the air – and Wrightsair offers scenic flights from William Creek. See wrightsair.com.au

Photography

Where? Pink Lake, Western Australia

There are a few lakes in Australia competing to be regarded as the pinkest. But the Pink Lake (or Hutt Lagoon) near Port Gregory is arguably the most reliable. Head to the viewing platforms in the middle of a cloud-free day, for the best chance of seeing it at its pinkest. That's when the algae blooms, causing the pink colour. Shine Aviation runs scenic flights over the lake from Geraldton. See shineaviation.com.au

Historic lake bed drives

Where? Lake Mungo, New South Wales

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Unique erosion formations at the

Unique erosion formations at the "Walls of China" site in the ancient shore dune of Lake Mungo in outback New South Wales, Australia. Photo: iStock

There's very little chance of seeing water in Lake Mungo. It dried up centuries ago. But being able to drive across the parched, emu-sprinkled lake bed is pretty cool. Especially when you can then walk a little further to the Walls of China viewing area, with the multicoloured striped sands. But Mungo is all about the heritage – the oldest Aboriginal skeletons were found here, changing perceptions of how long Indigenous people have been in Australia. Mungo Guided Tours runs day trips from Mildura. See mungoguidedtours.com

The writer has been a guest of Tourism Australia and the state tourism authorities.

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