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9 Best Lakes in South East Queensland

Home > Brisbane > Escape the City | Free | Lakes | Lists | Outdoor
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published July 16th 2021
There are many great lakes in South East Queensland
Lakes for swimming, hiking, picnicking, camping, kayaking and water sports across South East Queensland

Lakes are great. You can swim in them, boat on them, catch fish in them, hike around them, and camp or picnic beside them. There are a remarkable number of lakes in the South East Queensland, here are some of the best ones.

There are many beautiful lakes in South East Queensland
There are many beautiful lakes in South East Queensland


Most of the lakes in South East Queensland are dam reservoirs, and are managed by Seqwater, who, often working with the local councils, are seeking new ways to open up many of these reservoirs to the public. It is important to check the rules for each lake to see if things like boating, kayaking, fishing and swimming are permitted. Often, the list of activities is being expanded all the time for each lake.

There are many different activities to enjoy on South East Queensland's Lakes
There are many different activities to enjoy on South East Queensland's Lakes


Many of the lakes border national parks and are home to an abundance of wildlife. It is often important to remember to treat the reserves around the lakes with the same reverence as you would a national park or wildlife reserve.

Lakes have plenty of wildlife
Lakes have plenty of wildlife


Best Suburban Lake: Forest Lake

There are quite a few lakes located in the suburbs, ranging from Varsity Lakes on the Gold Coast or Lake Weyba on the Sunshine Coast. Brisbane itself has a few lakes, with Lake Eden being one of many of the lakes in North Lakes. But the one lake that stands out for me is Forest Lake.

Forest Lake in the Brisbane Suburb of Forest Lake
Forest Lake in the Brisbane Suburb of Forest Lake


This little lake is a lovely little oasis. The walking track goes for 1.7 kms around the lake and is popular for people going for a jog or just a walk. There are also lots of little artworks dotted around or the lake, which makes the walk even more interesting.

One of several artworks in Forest Lake
One of several artworks in Forest Lake


There is also a boat ramp, which means you can put your kayaks or canoes in for a paddle or join the Forest Lake Dragon Boat Club. If you ever wanted to take up dragon boating, they do trials for people wanting to just give it a go.

Dragon boating on Forest Lake
Dragon boating on Forest Lake


Best Brisbane Lake: Lake Enoggera

Brisbane has quite a few lakes just within the Brisbane City Council area, including Lake Manchester and Gold Creek Reservoir, but the one that stands out is Lake Enoggera. Built in1886 to create a reliable water supply for the growing city of Brisbane it is now no longer part of Brisbane's water supply. The area has recently been transformed into a popular recreational destination just on the outskirts of the city.

Kayaking on Lake Enoggera
Kayaking on Lake Enoggera


The key location on the lake is the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre. There is a nice cafe at the centre that overlooks the little zoo there. Also here is Walkabout Creek Adventures from where you can hire kayaks, standup paddleboards, Segways and mountain bikes.

Kangaroos at the Walkabout Creek zoo
Kangaroos at the Walkabout Creek zoo


Along with swimming in the lake or paddling on it, you can also follow the hiking and mountain bike trails that start from Walkabout Creek. My favourite walk goes around the lake, but there are shorter and easier walks for people just looking for a stroll.

Walking along the shore of Enoggera Reservoir
Walking along the shore of Enoggera Reservoir


Best adventure lake: Lake Moogerah

Most lakes in South East Queensland have activities that you can do, but Lake Moogerah is the lake that seems to have it all. For the casual visitor there is a great picnic area on the north side, and for people wanting to stay overnight, there is camping on the southern shore, including sites for tents and caravans, as well as cabins. School and other groups often visit the lake for camps and other adventure activities.

Lake Moogerah Caravan Park
Lake Moogerah Caravan Park


On the lake, you can swim, kayak (with kayaks for hire), fish and it is also a popular destination for waterskiing. There are areas set aside for each activity, so you can fish or swim in peace without worrying about motorboats and water skiers powering through.

Water Skiing at Lake Moogerah
Water Skiing at Lake Moogerah


Off the lake, there are a number of hikes by the lake or nearby. The main walk takes you across the dam wall and up Mt Edwards. Nearby the other Moogerah Peaks includes the lovely Mt Greville, where you hike up and down palm tree-filled gorges, and rock climbers are attracted to Mt French.

Hiking up Mt Edwards at Lake Moogerah
Hiking up Mt Edwards at Lake Moogerah


Best lake for hiking: Wyaralong Dam

There are walks beside or around many of the lakes on this list. Lake Enoggera has one of the best lake circuits in the area, Gold Creek Reservoir is a nice short 5 km walk, and for something longer, you can walk around Lake Manchester. Wivenhoe Dam has some nice trails with lake views, and the Ewen Maddock Dam features both short easy and longer trails But Wyaralong Dam is definitely the one for a good hike.

Image of Wyaralong Dam courtesy of Shiftchange @ Wikimedia
Image of Wyaralong Dam courtesy of Shiftchange @ Wikimedia


For a day hike, you can head up Mt Joyce, or do the 25 km Shoreline Trail, or combine half the Shoreline Trail and Ridgeline Trail for a loop that is around 20 kms. Don't forget, you can do an overnight hike here, staying at the Ngumbi Remote Camping Area.

Image of Wyaralong Dam at night courtesy of Rodney Topor @ Flickr
Image of Wyaralong Dam at night courtesy of Rodney Topor @ Flickr


Best Island Lake: Blue Lagoon

Moreton Bay has a number of islands and a couple of lakes on some of them. The two most visited would be Brown and Blue Lakes on North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah). But the most outstanding lake is Blue Lagoon on Moreton Island (Mulgumpin). I am excluding Fraser Island (K'gari) as strictly speaking it is not in South East Queensland as such

Getting to Blue Lagoon involves a boat to Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) and then a 4 wheel drive to the lagoon on the opposite side of the island. But it is well worth its beautiful clear waters and is a very popular swimming spot with a great campsite nearby.

Best lake for fishing: Lake Somerset

There are a number of lakes in South East Queensland that have been stocked with fish. All stocked lakes require a fishing permit and of course, every fisherman has their favourite fishing spot. But Lake Somerset has been ranked as one of the top 5 fishing spots in Queensland. Some of the fish include Australian Bass, Golden Perch, Silver Perch, Bony Bream, Eel-tailed Catfish, Spangled Perch, Mary River Cod, Snub Nosed Gar, Queensland Lungfish and Saratoga.

Photo of Somerset Dam courtesy of Tatters @ Flickr
Photo of Somerset Dam courtesy of Tatters @ Flickr


You can launch boats from The Spit on the lake and there is another boat ramp near the NRMA Lake Somerset Holiday Park. Of course, you don't have to fish from boats, but you can also cast your line from various places along the shoreline.

Best lake for picnics: Lake Wivenhoe

Other than a body of water, the one thing that is common to every lake I have visited in South East Queensland is picnic facilities. This can be something as simple as a grassy slope on the lake's shore through to extensive picnic facilities. But Lake Wivenhoe stands out for its multiple fantastic lakeside picnic areas.

Wivenhoe Dam Information Centre
Wivenhoe Dam Information Centre


The obvious place to head to is the Lake Wivenhoe Information Centre, which is a pretty nice picnic area, and of course, there is the education information at the centre as well. But the picnic facilities there pale in comparison to the Cormorant Bay Recreational Reserve. Not only are there lots of tables and shelters, but there is also a cafe if you don't want to bring your own picnic. If those places aren't enough, there are also the Logan Inlet Day Use Area, and several others big and small.

Wivenhoe Dam Cormorant Bay Picnic Area
Wivenhoe Dam Cormorant Bay Picnic Area


Best country lake: Ewen Maddock Dam

Most of the lakes I have listed are in the countryside, but I want to mention the Ewen Maddock Dam because it is that perfect local recreational resource. There is nothing fancy about this little lake, but there are easy walks, longer shared used trails, and a sandy beach for swimming.

Lakeside walking at Ewen Maddock Dam
Lakeside walking at Ewen Maddock Dam


Maybe this is not a lake that would be a destination in itself, but it is a great place to visit if you are in the area. Of course, locals love this resource, making it a popular spot, especially in summer.

Swimming at Ewen Maddock Dam
Swimming at Ewen Maddock Dam


World class lake: Lake Cootharaba

The Noosa Everglades is only one of two everglades systems in the world, with Florida's being much more famous and much bigger. If you are looking for a special, let's say, unique, lake experience in the region, the Lake Cootharaba in Noosa has to be it.

Photo of the Noosa Everglades courtesy of Bernard Spragg. NZ @ flickr
Photo of the Noosa Everglades courtesy of Bernard Spragg. NZ @ flickr


You can get easy access to the lake at Boreen Point where you can visit a cafe or the historic wharf, or head up into Great Sandy National Park and visit the Kinaba Information Centre. Tours on the lake include boat tours or you can hire kayaks or canoes. A popular option is to be taken up the river on a boat and then paddle back with the help of the river flow.

Photo of kayaking on Lake Cootharaba courtesy of eGuide Travel @ Flickr
Photo of kayaking on Lake Cootharaba courtesy of eGuide Travel @ Flickr
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Why? You can swim, kayak, canoe, boat, fish, waterski, hike, picnic and camp at various lakes in South East Queensland
Cost: Every lake is free to visit, while some activities have a fee
Your Comment
A terrific list Roy. I like that you have categorised them by activity and I had no idea we had everglades in Australia.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9257) 94 days ago
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