When I first heard of The Valley of Lakes, I imagined a hidden valley in a distant far off land, so I was truly surprised to discover it was only an hour's drive west of our home and could barely wait for the school holidays, to pack the car for a new adventure.
We drove through Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious along a road draped with rainforest ferns and palm trees. This part of the drive through D'Aguilar National Park is a destination of its own and we considered ourselves honored to spot a pair of peacocks and some wallabies along the way. Eventually the road drops into the Upper Brisbane Valley and you can catch your first magical glimpse of The Valley of Lakes from Westridge Lookout.
Lake Atkinson, Lake Somerset and Lake Wivenhoe are the main lakes that make up The Valley of Lakes. These lakes are actually all man made and were dammed last century to supply Brisbane's water, hence the proximity to home. The fact that The Valley of Lakes is man made took a fair bit of romance out of it for me, but they are still very beautiful and have now become a haven for birds and native wildlife. Visiting the lakes/dams is a great way to teach children where their water comes from and the unbelievable process it takes to reach their bath tub or kitchen sink.
The main township in The Valley of Lakes is Esk, which is a great place to explore or stock up on picnic supplies. Brisbane Valley Rail Trail also passes through The Valley of Lakes Region, if you feel like experiencing a piece of history while you're there. There are many bed and breakfasts to stay in around Esk and you can definitely camp in designated areas on the shores of each of the lakes.
Of course, the best way to experience the lakes are from the water. Watersports of every kind are very popular at Lake Somerset. The day we visited, many families were whizzing around on their own water skis, jet skis, and kayaks in the water. At "The Spit", there is an allocated swimming zone, two playgrounds and plenty of electric barbecues, in case you want to take a picnic. We had so much fun playing in the cool water, splashing around and enjoying the great outdoors. The Valley of Lakes makes a perfect summer day trip from Brisbane, however, you really need to stay overnight to feel the wonder of the area.