Located at the foot of Mt Canobolas is Lake Canobolas, a large tranquil lake that provides a range of activities with the changing seasons. The lake is fed by Molong Creek whose waters flow from melting snow and rain that falls on Mt Canobolas and the surrounding Towac Valley.
Following extensive rehabilitation work over many years the lake environs have an abundance of bird life and are home to a number of species of water fowl and native fauna. Keen eyes may occasionally observe a platypus surfacing on the still waters after it has been diving for prey amongst the silty bed of the lake, or spot an echidna searching for food or a wallaby browsing.
Lake Canobolas (previously known as Meadow Creek Reservoir) was constructed in 1918 to provide the town of Orange with water via a pipeline. By 1957 the lake was not large enough to provide the growing City with a sustainable water supply and alternative sources were investigated.
The pipeline which once took water to Orange, now brings potable water supplies from Orange back to the lake. The pipeline also supplies a number of rural residents between Orange and the lake.
The Lakeshore Cafe operates on the western side of the lake, offering ‘great coffee, food and drinks’.
For more information and current opening hours, visit the Lakeshore Cafe’s Facebook page.
During the warmer months, Lake Canobolas offers the opportunity for a swim, a paddle in a canoe or for the more adventurous, an opportunity for sailing. A sandy beach on the western shoreline near the wall of the dam provides a fun place for kids to swim and play in the sand. Pontoons anchored to the bed of the lake provide an attraction for teenagers to swim. Please be mindful that the water in the lake has varying temperatures and swimmers can find themselves in deep very cold sections.
You can try your luck anywhere around the lake, however please be mindful of swimming areas and boating activities. The Lake has a number of constructed fishing/ fly casting facilities, most notably is the fishing deck on the western side of the Lake at the end of the sealed road. This facility has been established with grants from the NSW Government and with the support of the Institute of Freshwater Anglers, Orange Trout Acclimatisation Society and Orange City Council. Approximately 30 metres from this fishing platform, out into the water, a number of ‘snags’ have been installed to improve fish habitat. The snags are marked by buoys. Snags are hardwood trees with hollows and root crowns still attached to provide places for fish to breed, hide from predation from cormorants and feed from aquatic life that grows on them.
Lake Canobolas is regularly a venue for Orange’s keen dragon boaters to train and compete. There are a number of dragon boat clubs in Orange including the Colour City Dragons and the Pinnacle Dragons Abreast Orange. The lake hosts a number of regional competitions each year.
Walking and cycling
At the northern end of the Lake Canobolas Reserve (near the brick toilet buildings) is the start of a shared off road walking and cycling trail. The first stage, which leads to a suspension bridge over Molong Creek, can be completed as a circuit. Allow approximately 30 minutes to walk this section of the track.
The suspension bridge was constructed with the assistance of the 1/19th Battalion of the Army Engineers located in Orange. Once across the bridge, the trail follows a gravel track before meeting sealed roads, follow the red and yellow finger signs, located at intersections to find your way back to Orange. The trail to Orange is about 8.5 kms. Allow 2 hours to walk the full length of the trail to Orange.
At the southern end of the Lake is another walking trail that creates a circuit around the lake. This track winds its way to the head waters of the Lake and through areas of major environmental rehabilitation work. For many years the community and Orange City Council have been eradicating willows (Salix sp) from Molong Creek and the lake shoreline to improve biodiversity and fish habitat.
The dam wall includes a walkway which connects recreation areas on both sides of the lake and offers extensive views across the water and up to the mountain.
You can read more about activities at the lake in this information brochure.
On the eastern side of the lake is Apex Playground. The playground has climbing structures and theme play area. In the vicinity of the playground are electric barbecues and picnic tables or bring a picnic rug to throw out on the grass and relax on while the kids enjoy their time playing. During wet periods of the year, Apex Playground has a water feature running through it, where children paddle and make their own games and play experiences.
On the western side of the lake, next to the dam wall there is a cableway for children (young and old…) to glide along. A sand-based beach volley-ball area can also be found away from the water’s edge.
A pumphouse which dates from the time the lake was the main water supply for the community or Orange, is worth a visit.
The pumphouse is on the eastern side of the lake. To find it, cross to the causeway below the dam wall and climb the gentle rise towards the eastern side. A signed road takes travellers off the main road to the left, down to the Pump House.
The pump equipment in the building was manufactured by Richard Hornsby and Sons Ltd of Grantham and Stockpot England. The pump was sent to be used at the lake (then known as the Meadow Creek Reservoir) from England via Melbourne in 1915.
More information about can be found on wall panels inside the building. Signs on the building shown opening hours, which vary depending on the season.
Plan your visit
Lake Canobolas is open every day of the year from early morning to sunset.
Facilities within the lake reserve include :
- a kiosk
- public amenities
- picnic tables
- children’s play equipment
- Wheel chair access
- Accessible toilet