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.
KIOSK & CAFE
The Lakeside Kiosk & Cafe can be found on the western side of the lake. The new team is ‘serving takeaway drinks and meals from our new menu’ and is ‘busily working behind the scenes to expand our offering and are excited to welcome you back to the dine in cafe once lockdown has lifted’.
For more information and current opening hours, visit the Lakeside Kiosk & 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.
This Lake Canobolas Pumphouse Learning Pack was produced to assist school visits as a guide for teachers.
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.
There are plans at Lake Canobolas for a growing collection of public art, which reflects the local community. More information will added here as it comes to hand.
Here are the stories associated with two murals on buildings at the lake.
Aboriginal Dreaming Story as told by Uncle Neil Ingram Senior, Wiradjuri Elder
This story was passed on to me by my Elders.
A long time ago there were three brothers. The elder brother was Gaanha-bula, the middle brother was Wahluu and the younger brother came from Mt Macquarie, near Carcoar. Gaanha-bula is the traditional name for Mt Canobolas. Gaanha meaning shoulder and bula meaning two. Two shoulders. Wahluu is the traditional name for Mt Panorama. It means young men’s initiation site.
And the story goes like this:
Gaanha-bula and his brother Wahluu both fell in love with a beautiful young woman (Migay). Because she showed more interest in Wahluu, Gaanha-bula became jealous of his brother and challenged him to a spear throwing competition. The winner takes the prize and gets to marry the young woman.
They lined up a target. Gaanha-bula threw the first spear but missed the target. Wahluu then threw his spear but also missed the target, even though he was closer to the target. On the second throw they both missed the target again. When they had the third throw, Gaanha-bula got awfully close to the target but Wahluu threw his spear and hit the target. Before Wahluu could turn around to claim his prize, Gaanha-bula hit him in the back of the head with a club (bundi).
Wahluu fell to the ground. This made the spirit ancestors angry. They made the ground erupt and lava spill out over Wahluu’s body where he was laying on the ground. This is the shape of the mountain as it stands today.
Gaanha-bula, full of fear, then fled the site and travelled back to his home at Mt Canobolas. The spirit ancestors were angry with him, for killing his brother. They struck him and made the ground erupt and lava poured out over his body where he laid, which is a constant reminder of what happened.
The moral behind this story is not to hold a grudge or jealousy, rage, and anger in your heart and not to commit murder against another person.
Mt Canobolas is a men’s initiation site and a place used for corroboree and ceremonies (burbung). The Wiradjuri people camped on the mountain during these major ceremonies.
To the Wiradjuri people Mt Canobolas is a place of spiritual connection through worship of Baiame (the Creator God and Sky Father).
Scatters of stone tools and engravings can be found near the peak, along with remnants of cultural activities that took place. During the cold winter months, possum furs were made into cloaks and blankets for warmth. Traditional fire burns were used to manage the vegetation on the mountain and surrounding area to encourage important traditional food and medicine growth.
Such dreaming stories are known by some Wiradjuri people with a strong traditional connection to Orange and Bathurst. The public are not aware of these stories. Mt Canobolas is still a spiritual and significant place today for the Wiradjuri people. We need to preserve, protect, and respect this special place.
‘How the Platypus came to be’ Aboriginal Dreaming Story as told by Aunty Iris Reid, Wiradjuri Elder.
In the Dream Time our Aboriginal Ancestors told the story of the Platypus and the Water Rat, and it is still told today.
It is the story of a young duck named Gaygaa and the water rat, Bigun. Gaygaa often wandered from her family of ducks who lived on the Narran Lake near Lightning Ridge.
One day she travelled too far from Yuwaalaraay Nation into Wiradjuri Country where she found some beautiful red berries to eat so, she decided to stay a while.
Gaygaa was spotted by a water rat (Bigun) who fell in love with her. He grabbed Gaygaa, took her home and forced her to become his wife, (which she did not like). He said: “If you ever try to escape, I will spear you”.
Bigun tried his best to make Gaygaa happy but she still didn’t want to stay. One day she decided to trick Bigun and escape to fly back home to her family. She told Bigun she would stay if he would get the same delicious red berries, she was eating the day he found her. Bigun was so happy he agreed to try.
While Bigun was away Gaygaa decided to find her way out of the tunnel in the bank of the river where Bigun lived. She was so scared she didn’t know which way to go.
She saw a light at the end of the tunnel, which was the way out. She ran quickly and soon swam to the surface. As Gaygaa started to swim, she thought flying would be better to escape from Bigun because he couldn’t fly.
She flapped her wings, Bigun heard the noise and looked up. He threw a spear which hit Gaygaa in the foot. The weight of the spear unbalanced Gaygaa. She wobbled and swayed until the spear fell out. Gaygaa was free and off she flew back to her home.
When Gaygaa was met by her family they were happy to see her, One of her sisters said: “It is time we build our nest, to have our babies”. Soon the babies were hatched and the small ducklings swam happily on the Lake. Gaygaa wanted her sisters to come see her babies.
As the sisters approached, they were horrified to see strange looking creatures. They had four webbed feet, a fur body, a duck bill and an unusual tail.
The Elder sisters knew that Gaygaa had broken the lore and mated with another animal from a different tribe. They were angry and forced Gaygaa to leave with her babies and never to return. Gaygaa soon gathered her babies and swam away from her family once again.
The babies were tired and wondered when it was time for their mother to make a home where they would live. Gaygaa knew she had to take care of her babies and move them to where the waters were cooler. Gaygaa swam for many days travelling from where Lightning Ridge is today, through Coonamble, Gilgandra, Dubbo, Wellington, Orange, Bathurst and then onto Lithgow.
This is where we will make our home Gaygaa told her babies. They were quite pleased to be in the cooler water nd grew up there. Gaygaa often thought of her older sisters, which made her feel sad. She knew that she had done wrong but loved and protected her babies.
Eventually she died, and people say she died of a broken heart.
Moral of the Story:
• Gaygaa broke the Lore.
• She didn’t listen to her Elders.
• She travelled into another Country.
• She mated with a different animal and gave birth to unusual babies.
• Never make fun of people who are different to you.
There is a stone shape of a Platypus in a River near Lithgow, this is said to be Gaygaa. The Elders say if you see a Platypus and a duck swimming nearby, it is Gaygaa’s Spirit watching over her babies.
Today both male and female Platypus have spurs. Before maturity the spur drops off the female, but the male keeps his. The spur is poisonous and is known to kill a dog. If a human is spurred it will make the person very sick but they will not die.
Plan your visit
Lake Canobolas is open every day of the year from early morning to dusk.
Facilities within the lake reserve include :
- a kiosk
- public amenities
- picnic tables
- children’s play equipment
- Wheel chair access
- Accessible toilet