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Kayaking on Cairn Curran Reservoir

Home > Melbourne > Boating | Caravan Parks | Family | Outdoor | Weekend Escapes
by Andrew Burton (subscribe)
I am a Freelance Writer-Photographer and Novelist. I travel to find inspiration, wherever the distant horizons lead.
Published June 22nd 2015
Kayak, camp or caravan at Cairn Curran; a secluded retreat
Lake Cairn Curran a peaceful kayak venue.
Lake Cairn Curran a peaceful kayak venue.
 
The lake has great rural and bushland scenery.
The lake has great rural and bushland scenery.
Lake Cairn Curran is a water storage on the Loddon River, and it is used to supply water for irrigation and domestic use for the area. It was built between 1947 and 1956. It doubles as a fine recreational lake too, for kayakers, power boats, sail boats, fishing, duck shooters, caravan and campers. It can also be used as a picnic and barbeque venue. There are also great opportunities for a swim at many locations, just stay away from the mud on lake's exposed arms near Joyce's Creek... unless you feel like a mud-pack, water levels are currently low.

Due to a dry spring, summer and autumn, it dropped to 34 percent capacity and is climbing again, currently at 36 percent. Being a larger lake, there is more than enough area for a great paddle, powered craft will have trouble in some areas. The lake has good access with 4 boat ramps for easy entry; these are located at the sailing club, Whitlocks Road, and Picnic Point, all from the northern end. The fourth boat ramp is accessed from Welshman's Reef Caravan Park south of Maldon, close to Newstead. Refer to the map. The lake presents a fine outlook, with a mix of bushland and farmland on all sides. It is so tranquil on a still day.
 
The lake has abundant birdlife.
The lake has abundant birdlife.
 
Cairn Curran is a good sized lake.
Cairn Curran is a good sized lake.
I just love the sculptured forms that dead trees present and the reflections on the lake surface on a perfect day. There are plenty of bird varieties that make their home there, and these include, black swans, hawks, kites, egrets, galahs, darters, cormorants, and terns. Watching wetland birds fly close by, or take off en-mass is a sheer delight, and they all add a great deal of interest, particularly if you share a love of nature.

The best place to stay and admire the lake environment is Welshman's Reef Caravan Park. Situated on the lake's shore, it has been a long running facility with powered and un-powered sites. The helpful caretaker onsite is Mark, and he says the park is a great family place and is dog friendly too. However they do charge $5 for using the boat ramp, but it all goes back into the park's facilities and maintenance. They have just upgraded their water tanks and fire fighting equipment.

The park encourages usage of the many supplied fire places or 'byo', a tin or drum for a make-shift fire place. Excepting fire-ban periods, you can sit around a campfire as the stars come out. The park backs onto bushland and the peaceful setting will make for a relaxing stay.
 
Welsman's Reef Caravan Park on the shores of Lake Cairn Curran.
Welsman's Reef Caravan Park, a quiet family retreat.
 
Cairn Curran's levels dropped to 34% and winter rains are refilling the lake slowly.
Cairn Curran's levels dropped to 34% and winter rains are refilling the lake slowly.
The park has a large playground, barbeque and picnic area too, so the kids can run around and burn off all their energy, while mum and dad cook up a feast. It is easy to see some people have been coming back year after year, and adding to their caravan setup until some of them appear more like cabins, with a caravan inside. Currently they do not have a website, but the park is on Facebook.

The boat ramp has a good sized car park and can accommodate plenty of trailers and boats. The park itself is well designed and parking vans and campers would not be an issue.

There is another Caravan Park on the Loddon River beyond the dam wall, but that does not provide direct lake access or the shoreline views that you find here. Picnic areas around the dam wall have shelters and electric barbeques, amenities and picnic tables. You have great choices for an enjoyable visit. The Sailing Club welcomes new members and that could be another interesting past time. They are located near the dam wall picnic areas.

A local was exchanging kayak experiences and told me how he jammed his boat on one of the old bridge pylons when the water just covered them (see the mud pan photo below-right). I guess it highlights the fact we should never assume anything is perfectly safe, it does not matter how tranquil it looks.
Mud pans on arms of the lake due to low levels.
Mud pans on arms of the lake due to low levels.
Although we can never eliminate danger, we can take precautions to reduce the risk. Don't forget the chill factor at this time of year and one good gust of wind, or even clipping an underwater log and you will be' in the drink'. The wind can be icy, and if you are wet, your energy loss can be rapid and hypothermia can set in quickly. Wear a kayaking wetsuit and see specialists for the correct type. Wear kayak boots and gloves too.

Checking weather and tide conditions is also a must. A strong head wind when you are tired on the ocean could be the difference between you making it back or drifting out to see. A strong side wind on a lake can produce waves that will flip you over in a second. A tidal current in a narrow channel, such as we have around Phillip Island and Western Port Bay maybe more than you can paddle against. Know your limits and learn all about where you want to paddle...study hard and be safe. A peaceful sunny day on a lake is easy, but never be complacent.
 
A well appointed playground with plenty of room for the kids to run around.
A well appointed playground with plenty of room for the kids to run around.
 
Being close to Maldon, there is also plenty of other attractions and things to do. See previous articles for all information and forms of accommodation. Major supermarkets and service stations are close at hand in Castlemaine and Maryborough, and both towns are about 15 minutes away. Alternatively, find out everything about the local area by following the link.
 
Welshman's Reef Caravan Park's boat ramp.
Welshman's Reef Caravan Park's boat ramp.
 
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Why? It is another great kayak venue.
When: All year round.
Phone: 03 5476 2378 or 0473 983 452
Where: Cairn Curran is best accessed from Maldon; head south for Welshman's Reef Caravan Park and north for the sailing club boat ramp and picnic grounds.
Cost: Unpowered sites are $25 per night and powered sites are $30 per night, for 2 people, and add $15 per person over 16 years of age.
Your Comment
Sounds like a perfect getaway with family for the school hols!
by Katy Holliday (score: 3|1133) 1456 days ago
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