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Brisbane's Lakes

Home > Brisbane > Lists | Escape the City | Food and Wine | Nature | Outdoor | Walks
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published October 6th 2015
Lakes to walk, swim, kayak, fish, barbecue and visit
Brisbane's lakes

Brisbane is the river city, not the lake city, but Brisbane and it nearby areas have numerous lakes that are open for a variety of different activities, including hiking, swimming, kayaking, fishing, barbecuing or just relaxing.

Kayakers at Lake Enoggera
Kayakers at Lake Enoggera


All of the lakes in this list are in Brisbane or the nearby suburbs. Several of these lakes are managed by SEQWater who have taken on the policy of opening up the lakes and dams around Brisbane to more recreational activity. This is changing all the time with new facilities and permitted activities being allowed all the time.

Lake Samsonvale
Lake Samsonvale


Forest Lake

Forest lake is in the suburb of Forest Lake. The lake is still there, but I am not sure what happened to the forest. This amazing suburban lake is a wonderful place to go for a stroll. The lake is home to a variety of wildlife as well as featuring a number of artworks.

Forest Lake
Forest Lake


But there is much more to this lake than that. Often early in the morning or early in the evening, joggers do the 3 km circuit around the lake and others participate in exercise groups or boot camps.

Forest lake has several artworks in the water
Forest lake has several artworks in the water


The lake also has a boat ramp. Some people use the lake as place to try out their new kayaks or practice kayaking techniques. But the main users of the boat ramp are the Forest Lake Dragon Boat club. They are always looking out for new members so check out their open days to have a go at dragon boating.

Dragon boating at Forest Lake
Dragon boating at Forest Lake


Enoggera Reservoir

Here is the lake with a bit of everything. Most people gain access to the lake through the Walkabout Creek Centre where there is a cafe and zoo. There is also now a designated swimming area and a set place to launch for paddle craft. Fishing is allowed, but the dam is not currently stocked with fish, so there is not much point at the moment. When they start to stock the lake with fish you will probably need to buy a permit to fish.

Swimming area at Enoggera Dam
Swimming area at Enoggera Dam


The area is also great for a range of hikes. There are a couple of short marked trails that start off from Walkabout Creek and are suitable for all levels of hikers. The Araucaria circuit goes out along the lake before returning. However the lake backs onto D'Aguilar National park which has an extensive network of fire trails. The fun hike to do is the circuit of the lake. This is about 10 kms but is on unmarked tracks. You can't really get lost as all you need to do is keep the lake on left, but still it is recommended that you take a map with you. You can download free topographic maps from QTopo. You can also do longer hikes across to other lakes such as Gold Creek and Lake Manchester.

Hiking at Enoggera Dam
Hiking at Enoggera Dam


Most of these trails are multi-use trails and so are suitable for mountain bikers. Once again it is possible to cycle around the lake or to other locations. The tracks are pretty steep in sections so it is not a popular mountain biking area.

Kayaking at Lake Enoggera
Kayaking at Lake Enoggera


You can end all your days activities with lunch, coffee and cake at the Green Tree Frog Cafe at Walkabout Creek. This nice little cafe overlooks the zoo and while the food and service is nothing spectacular it is still an amazing place to relax.

The little zoo is a great place for Australian wildlife. Along with kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and numbats, they have a small aviary and a reptile exhibit, aquariums, and of course a couple of platypuses.

The main thing lacking are picnic tables and barbecue areas. You can though still find plenty of shady green areas to spread out a picnic blanket.

Walkabout Creek Zoo
Walkabout Creek Zoo


One of the best things about this lake is that it is easy to access by public transport. Just take the 385 bus out to the The Gap Park'n'Ride and then walk up the road to Walkabout Creek.

Lake Samsonvale

Personally I think the best lake for picnics and barbecues is Lake Samsonvale, up north at Joyner (near Petrie). This lake has three areas with picnic and barbecue facilities. The main one is Bullocky Rest, but there is also Fogan Park and McGavin View.

Lake Samsonvale
Lake Samsonvale


Bullocky Rest is by and far my favourite barbecue area in Brisbane. This is a little green peninsular that juts out into the lake. Being surrounded by water, it stays cool during the hot summer months. Bullocky Rest has lots of electric barbecues and picnic areas. You can drive your car up close to most of them, so it is easy to bring your things down to where you will be cooking.

The view from Bullocky Rest at Lake Samsonvale
The view from Bullocky Rest at Lake Samsonvale


The lake is home to a large amount of bird life. You will see pelicans, cormorants and of course lots of ducks. The lake is also home to a bevy of black swans. The will often come up onto the grass at Bullocky Rest..

Swans at Lake Samsonvale
Swans at Lake Samsonvale


There is also an 8 km hiking track along the lake. There are additional fire trails that I have never explored.

Lake Samsonvale is part of Brisbane's water supply and so access to the lake itself is limited. Swimming is prohibited and using watercraft on the lake is only permitted through the Lake Samsonvale Water Sports Association.

North Lakes

Most people who go to North Lakes will see Lake Eden and then be under the impression that some ambitious real estate developer added the 's' to the end of lakes for marketing purposes. But if you explore North Lakes you will this is really a suburb of many lakes.

Lake Eden is the lake people think about when they think of North Lakes
Lake Eden is the lake people think about when they think of North Lakes


There is several walking and cycling paths that run from Lake Eden all the way up to the North Lakes Environmental Park. The path will take you past lake after lake. Hence the 's' in the name 'North Lakes'.

North lakes has many lakes
North lakes has many lakes


Up at the Environmental park you will find a lovely bushland area with well maintained walking tracks around the edge of some sections of the park, fire trails through others and bush trails elsewhere, and of course lots more lakes.

Woodside Lake
Woodside Lake


The main activities here are walking and cycling. Though some of the lakes up at the Environmental Park have barbecue and picnic areas as well.

North Lakes Environmental Park
North Lakes Environmental Park


Gold Creek Dam

Gold Creek was named out of the false belief that it contained gold. The dam in Upper Brookfield was the second dam built in Brisbane after Enoggera Dam and was innovative at the time for its stepped spillway. Now it is no longer part of Brisbane's water supply but has yet to be fully opened up for recreation.

Gold Creek Reservoir
Gold Creek Reservoir


The main reason to come here is to do the 5 km walk around the lake. This walk is best done in a counterclockwise manner as you go over the steep bits first and have better lake views at the end.

Hikers at Gold Creek Resevoir
Hikers at Gold Creek Resevoir


Once again these are unmarked trails though they are walking tracks rather than fire trails, so they are not suitable for mountain bikes. It is recommended that you take maps with you. Remember QTopo has free downloadable topographic maps.

Gold Creek Reservoir
Gold Creek Reservoir


Another reason to visit Gold Creek is the history. You can walk up onto the dam itself and there are items, like old water filters, on display around the area.

A bit of history at Gold Creek
A bit of history at Gold Creek


Brisbane Botanic Gardens - Mt Coot-tha

When you mention Brisbane Botanic Gardens (or type it into Google) people always think of the City Botanic Gardens (and Google thinks this too). But the Brisbane Botanic Gardens is actually up Mt Coot-tha off Mt Coot-tha road. It is also home to several different lakes.

I love Brisbane Botanic Gardens. The variety in the gardens is fantastic. This includes a Japanese Gardens, Tropical Dome, Australian flowering plant gardens and much much more. It is also home to three lakes.

The lake behind the cafe at Brisbane Botanic Gardens
The lake behind the cafe at Brisbane Botanic Gardens


The loveliest lake is dubbed the Lagoon. This is the lake you see if you go to the Cafe at the gardens. This well designed and maintained lake is a great place for a stroll.

Lake at the back of Brisbane Botanic Gardens
Lake at the back of Brisbane Botanic Gardens


My favourite though lies at the far back of the park, where few people go. This area is exclusively Australian plants, but arranged together to turn the Australian bush into a cultivated garden. There is a lovely lake that is always worth walking around. Because few people bother to walk up the hill and over to this part of the park, it is the quietest part of the park.

Melaleuca wetlands at the Birsbane Botanic Gardens
melaleuca wetlands at the Birsbane Botanic Gardens


Oh, and there is now a new lake built as part of the contract to build the Legacy Way tunnel. This is because the tunnel runs under the edge of the park. While this is a nice children's playground area the lake is not that impressive.

Lake Manchester

Lake Manchester, in the suburb of Lake Manchester is a great place to visit and has a range of recreational activities. The main area of Lake Manchester Road near the dam has picnic tables, electric barbecues and toilets.

Manchester Dam
Manchester Dam


The 21 km path around the lake is multi-use and can be used by hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders. This is a fairly tough walk with a number of steep ridges that you need to ascend. However it is nearly impossible to become lost on this path and there are actual some trail signs to guide you.

Most paths around Lake Manchester are wide fire trails
Most paths around Lake Manchester are wide fire trails


If you are looking for a more relaxed lakeside walk, then walk the track clockwise. This section of the walk is mostly flat and runs beside the lake.

Lakeside paths at Lake Manchester
Lakeside paths at Lake Manchester


Currently paddle craft are not permitted on the lake but, this is only because they haven't built a launching area yet for paddle craft. When it does open, this will be one of the best lakes in the Brisbane area to kayak and boat on, with a large open water area as well as numerous inlets to explore.

Lake Manchester
Lake Manchester


UQ Lakes

The University of Queensland's St Lucia campus is worth visiting for a number of reasons. One is just to walk around the lakes. The best way to get there is by bus, which stops right next to the lakes, though you can also take the river ferry as well.

Fountain at the UQ Lakes
Fountain at the UQ Lakes


While you might be wondering why your tax dollars are being spent on creating lakes for students who should be studying, the lakes are actually part of an environmental sustainability and water conservation project. Though lets face it, they also look very pretty.

UQ Lakes is a lovely place to stroll
UQ Lakes is a lovely place to stroll


I particularly enjoy visiting this area when the Jacarandas are in bloom as the lakes are surrounded by these colourful trees.

Jacarandas at the University of Queensland
Jacarandas at the University of Queensland


The University of Queensland is also home to numerous cafes, a few bars and restaurants. So after a walk around the lakes, enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee with the full knowledge you don't have any assessments due.
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Your Comment
So where can you fish that's allowed and stocked ?
by georginal (score: 0|4) 1018 days ago
Paddle craft ARE permitted on Lake Manchester.....but it is a long portage to get to a launch point!
by siroc (score: 0|4) 1016 days ago
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