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Published December 23rd 2022
Experience wild swimming in a freshwater lake
K'gari, also known as Fraser Island, is one of Australia's World Heritage Listed natural wonders. It holds the honour of being the largest sand island in the world and is home to diverse landscapes such as beaches, sand cliffs, creeks and rainforest. But did you know that K'gari also boasts over one hundred freshwater lakes and lagoons?
Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie) and Lake Wabby are two of the most popular lakes on the island and are definitely worth a visit. But if you prefer to stay away from the tourist buses and experience a more peaceful slice of K'gari, I would recommend a visit to Ocean Lake.
Ocean Lake is located on the north-eastern side of the island. It is approximately 7.5 kilometres north of Waddy Point. The lake is located behind the sand dunes and is an easy one kilometre drive inland from the beach.
The first thing we noticed on arrival was an uncrowded car park with no tourist buses in sight. In fact, there were only two other vehicles present and they were actually leaving, so we had the good fortune to have the lake to ourselves. Winning!
Adjacent to the car park is a couple of picnic tables and a sign with information about the lake and its environment. There are also toilet facilities provided. There is one small entry point into the lake amongst the paperbark trees.
You will find the entry point to the lake amongst the paperbark trees
Ocean Lake is a freshwater lake. It is classified as a "window lake" because it is formed by a depression that exposes part of the regional water table. This type of lake is usually found close to the coast in dune depressions where the water table is higher than the ground surface level.
The water may not look too inviting at first, as the colour is stained an orangey-brown from the tannin in the surrounding foliage, however, once you are in you don't even notice it. The entry point is shallow and gets deeper the further you swim out.
The lake is quite large - around 15 square kilometres - and is connected to the ocean by Orange Creek which is located around 2 kilometres north of the lake turnoff. It would be a great place to launch a kayak or stand up paddleboard to explore more of the lake. While we mostly stayed close to the entry point, we did venture over to the beautiful purple lilies for a closer look.
We couldn't resist a closer look at the purple lilite
The water is cool and refreshing and it is a beautiful place to swim, especially on a hot day. We also took some floats to better enjoy the serenity and the views. For the adventurous, there are a number of rope swings hanging from the paperbark trees along the water's edge, providing fun for both little and big kids alike, and some free entertainment for the spectators.
Will you be a rope swing participant or spectator?
According to the information sign, wildlife at the lake includes frogs, fish, waterbirds, funnelweb spiders, prawns, freshwater turtles, leeches and eels, however we didn't notice any wildlife while we were there. Neither did we come across any wongari (dingoes) at the lake, however, they were plentiful along the beach. It is important to always be dingo-safe while visiting K'gari by never feeding wongari, by always staying within arms reach of children, by securing all rubbish, fish and bait and never taking food to the lakeshores.
There is a bushwalk, called the Cyprus Circuit, which takes you on a 1km circuit and includes a lookout over the lake and up towards Sandy Cape. However this walk does not take you around the perimeter of the lake.
Visitors are asked to refrain from using sunscreen or insect repellent before swimming in the lake. This is to protect the natural habitat by not contaminating the water. You must also take all rubbish and food scraps with you when you leave.
Access to Ocean Lake is via the beach. Ocean Lake is signposted in the sand dunes. The drive from the beach to the lake is approximately one kilometre on a sandy track.
We enjoyed our visit to Ocean Lake so much that we returned for another swim the following day.