I'm a freelance writer, living in the Mooloolaba area, and enjoying the chance to promote its attractions.
Published October 3rd 2012
Here's the story of mountain water glory
Baroon Pocket Dam, and its namesake, Lake Baroon, nestle in a secluded valley, 23 kilometres west of Mooloolaba. This easy getaway is an idyllic destination reached by a scenic drive up the Blackall Range escarpment. It's good for picnics, bush-walking, swimming, fishing, and canoeing.
The approach up and along the escarpment ridge gives panoramic views of the coastal plain. Spectacular. Then, on the outskirts of the arts and crafts town of Montville, a turn to the west leads to a tree-lined descent into the hidden valley and cul-de-sac of the dam and lake. There's a sense of the primordial in the descent, particularly when it opens out to reveal the lake's expanses and verdant valley borders.
What to do is a simple matter. Find one of the recreational areas (there are two) with council provided gazebos, gas barbeques, children's playground and amenities, and stake out a picnic space and viewing place. Breathe in the lake's tranquility; listen to the quiet of the trees; take a dip in the clear, fresh water. Be advised though, Baroon has no kiosk. However, the tree-hidden resort 'Secrets on the Lake' welcomes visitors to its in-house cafe which overlooks the lake.
Lake Baroon is the result of man-made flooding of a rural valley in 1988. To provide water supply to the Maroochy area, engineers built a 17 metre high dam wall to constrain Obi-Obi Creek where it exited by a steep gorge of the same name. Stream water 'pocketed' in the valley to form Lake Baroon. Now, the 'pocket' extends to 400 hectares, with an average depth of 15 metres. So much for history.
The lake's shoreline is easily walked, and in Obi-Obi Gorge beyond the dam's spillway, there is rainforest walk track. A two hour round journey has two lookouts into the gorge. Plenty of exercise there. Of course, the lake itself is inviting. Swimming, boating and fishing are allowed within designated areas. The water is mountain cool and clean.
For anglers, Baroon is stocked with various fish species, such as Bass and Mary River Cod. Rod-fishing is allowed from the shore and boat. Watercraft are restricted to paddle, sail or electric motor only. Fishing and electric motors require permits (available on-site). Preserving Baroon's water quality prohibits fossil-fuelled engines.
One other prohibition is 'No camping'. Nonetheless, for the overnighter, there is the immediately adjacent 'Secrets of the Lake' resort - a secluded and unique complex of wooden, tree-house bungalows conjoined by elevated boardwalks. Then, again, a short return towards Montville reveals motels and B&Bs, and Montville's restaurants.
All in all, Baroon Pocket Dam is a little gem of blue hidden in a 'pocket' of green in hinterland highland. Well worth a visit.