Yarrawonga may be one of my favorite places in all of Australia. I stumbled upon it during my road trip to The Man from Snowy River Festival. Home of the Murray River and Lake Mulwala. Lake Mulwala is a man made reservoir of water diverted from the Murray River for local irrigation.
The history of this lake is fascinating, and ultimately what makes this one of the most unique lakes I've ever seen. In 1935, as they began building the dam (or Weir), the River Murray Commission refused to fund the clearing of the red gum trees. This forced a group of local men to take on the enormous task of clearing a forest. As the trees fell, they were left in place. There was concern the felled trees would damage the dam, but ultimately, not enough concern, as the trees were left where they lay. Officially set to open in 1939, due to WWII, the dam did not open until 1989.
The Yarrawonga Weir was built to raise the water level in the Murray River to ensure diversion of water via gravity. Diversion of water is via two major channels, the Mulwala Canal and the Yarrawonga Main Channel. The Mulwala Canal is 2,880 kilometres long and is the largest irrigation canal in the southern hemisphere, spreading across the southern Riverina plain to Deniliquin and suppling water to 700,000 hectares. The Yarrawonga Main Channel is 957km long and services the Murray Valley irrigation region, from Yarrawonga to Barmah. It supplies water to 128,000 hectares.
Now what makes this lake special, all these dead gum trees. They fill the lake, rising out of the water, making incredible silhouettes, stunning views and breathtaking landscapes. The only way I know how to describe this is to think of a real life cross between a Georges Seurat and Claude Monet painting. My eyes are telling my brain, it's too perfect. Like a painting. The hills roll at the perfect inclines, the sky is the exact color blue, you would think of when someone says "blue". Same with the grass on the rolling hills. It's "green", exactly how picture in your mind. Then as if someone thought, it's just a bit too perfect, dead trees are tossed in the image throughout the water. Reaching out like twisted hands. I've been here several times since I've moved to Australia and it's going to be the place I miss the most. It's stunning.
I've been told the lake is drained every few years, and I hope I'm lucky enough to be able to see that. Additionally, there are many bike trails on the Murray River. One that I'm fascinated by is the Rail Trail, which is an old rail line converted to a bike trail. It passes right through this magical land of lake and gum trees. Hopefully one of my next adventures!!