Formed by volcanic action thousands of years ago they are forest-fringed, cool-watered oasis’ for the enthusiastic adventurer and Sunday-drive traveller alike in Crater Lakes National Park.
Both lakes are maars – volcanic craters formed by a massive explosion from the superheating of groundwater. The lakes are clear and often bright blue/green in colour because they are only filled by rainwater; no streams or creeks run in to them.
Lake Eacham is the more bumptious of the two. Lots of people swim here and the lake frontage near the car park has easy access to the water, a big swathe of grass for sun bathing or a kick round and tables for picnicking. A pontoon is provided for swimmers. There’s a perimeter walk of 3km round the foreshore, which will take an hour or so but just take a short stroll down the path and you’ll see fish and maybe turtles in the clear water. There’s also a 1.4 km children’s walk with playful activities on the way.
If you want to get out further on the 65-metre-deep lake pack a kayak or a paddle board. No motorised craft are allowed on either lake. Lake Eacham is reached by a short drive through a forest grove, perfect for a shaded run or ramble. More than 180 species of birds have been recorded in the area so you won’t be lonely.
Lake Barrine is relaxation personified. Take a seat in its charming tea house and be mesmerised by the view out over the water to the old-growth rainforest all around. You have found your happy place. The lake is also about 65 metres deep and about a 1km wide. Indigenous people named it Barany. At 730m above sea level it has the look of an alpine lake albeit with tropical foliage.
The tea house is the second thing you notice about the lake, after its beauty. Built in 1926 it has a great possie at the edge of the water – take morning or afternoon smoko of tea and scones on the veranda for the full tea house experience. The gardens are worth a look.
The lake has boat trips round the edge of this volcanic crater’s brim to get to know the fascinating tropical ecosystem better. Birdlife galore, eels, turtles, fish and the occasional python.
Even on dry land it’s easy to see scores of fishlife in the clear waters. And if you want to explore under you own steam there is an easy grade 5km circuit track or check out a couple of substantial kauri on a short stroll from the car park.
You can swim at Lake Barrine as well. Both lakes are signposted off Gillies Highway not far from Yungaburra.