Lake Lenthall on the Fraser Coast is the major water source for the region but it’s also a beautiful recreational spot within the Wongi State Forest for those that want to get away and enjoy some peace and quiet in nature, bush walks, fishing, bird watching, boating and kayaking.
It’s a comfortable distance for a day trip from around the Fraser Coast and Bundaberg region or there are limited camping sites available if you plan to stay a couple of days.
Lake Lenthall only came into being in 1984 with the creation of Lenthalls dam at the junction of 6 creeks, Logbridge Creek, Doongul Creek, Harwood Creek, Sugar Bag Creek, Duckinwilla Creek and Woolmer Creek. Twenty-two years later in 2006, the dam wall was raised 2 metres bringing the dam capacity to 29,500 ML and securing the water supply for the growing region into the future.
Lake Lenthall then feeds into the Burrum River before emptying out into the ocean. There are two weirs along its path that act as water storage facilities before the water is treated for use as drinking water at the Burgowan Water Treatment Plant.
Getting to Lake Lenthall
Lake Lenthall is located in the Wongi State Forest on the Fraser Coast, around a 40-minute drive from Maryborough or an hour from Hervey Bay. The latter part, around half an hour of the drive, is on dirt forestry roads and the condition can vary depending on when they were last graded.
There is a ranger on-site 24/7 and gates are open from 6 am until 8 pm.
When we drove up there were some areas with deep rutting but if you take your time and pick your route through it’s not too bad. A 4-wheel drive and good clearance is definitely recommended but we saw someone driving past us towards Wongi Waterholes in a standard 2-wheel drive car and others had towed boats and campers.
When driving through here remember it’s a forestry road so keep a frequent eye on your rear vision mirror for logging trucks approaching and be prepared to pull out of their way. We saw a couple of trucks on the side roads but didn’t meet any as we were driving in and out.
Things to do at Lake Lenthall
There’s a dual lane concrete boat ramp for launching at the lake and plenty of adjacent parking for cars and trailers. The lake is around 8 km long and covers an area of around 765 hectares so there is plenty to explore.
In addition to wind and paddle powered craft you can also use either 4-stroke powered engines or low emission direct injection 2-stroke engines as long as they are 60hp or under.
BBQ and picnics
There are extensive grassed areas looking out over the lake to relax and enjoy a picnic. There are also several picnic tables in the lower area and near the top car park across from the ranger station, there are some well-maintained picnic shelters with cover and gas-powered barbeques.
You’re going to need a boat and a Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) to fish out on the lake. You can get a permit from a Post Office or fishing shop in the Hervey Bay and Maryborough area of you can also get it sorted online.
Fish in Lake Lenthall include Barramundi, Silver Perch, Golden Perch (yellow belly) and Australian Bass.
There are a few tracks throughout the surrounding bushland, the main one starts behind the boat ramp and heads up the hillside running mostly parallel to the lake but out of sight and ending abruptly at a boundary fence. It looks like you may once have had a lake view from here but the forest has regenerated leaving a partial vista through the trees. You walk back the way you came in.
The hillside is covered in hoop pine, vines forest, gums and as you get closer to the lake, pasture and tea tree.
Bird watching & wildlife
The bush area although a remnant in an area of wider commercial forestry had an excellent diversity of birdlife. The prized spot to see here would be the black-breasted button quail that have been reported in the area but we saw no sign of the birds nor their distinctive platelets of cleared dirt left behind when they pivot feed.
Unfortunately, I did see a fox disappearing deeper into the trees which makes the survival of a ground-feeding bird more challenging. Other wildlife to see around the lake include kangaroos and good-sized tree goanna or lace monitors that we saw in the bush but also wandering around the grassed areas in the midday sun.
Our birding list for the day included some good sightings including Grey Crowned Babblers, Rufous and Golden Whistlers, Eastern Yellow Robins, King Parrots, Spectacled Monarch, Varied Trillers and Jackie Winters. If you want an idea of the birds that are possible to see in the area by season the hotspot list on Ebird is a good place to start.
There are a limited number of camping sites available so it’s best to book in advance if you are planning an overnight stay. You can do this by calling the Lake Lenthall Ranger Office on (07) 4129 4833. There may be times of the year that are particularly busy but on the day we went, we had the place virtually to ourselves. We saw only one boatie launching from the ramp mid-morning and we spoke to someone else doing some maintenance work on a lookout platform, other than that it was just us.
There are toilets and showers up near the rangers station and behind those is a minimal camp kitchen area for washing dishes. You’ll need to bring everything you need for your stay with you including drinking water and take all rubbish out with you. It’s a quiet camp so generators aren’t allowed and no pets.
Climb the tower for a better view of the dam
Just before the rangers station is a caged walkway you can climb up to get a better view out over the dam.
The dam was around 50% capacity when we visited, wet season was still to (hopefully) arrive so the dam wasn’t spilling but this would be a fabulous view over the spillway as it joins the Burrum River to continue out to the coast.
We highly recommend a drive out here, it’s a beautiful spot to spend the day and if you have a suitable camper, and better yet a boat, we’d highly recommend a visit.
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