A Tale of Two Lakes
Summers spent by the water make for the best of memories: nothing but sky above you, paddling with family and friends until the sun goes down, shrieks of joy that stay with you long into the night…
And while we may be hundreds of kilometres from the coast here in North East Victoria, our natural aquatic options are anything but limited – we’re surrounded by enough rivers, creeks, lakes and dams to ensure this essential rite of passage is open to all. We took to the last summer to enjoy two blissful local lakes – Beechworth’s Lake Sambell and Lake Catani on Mount Buffalo. The former within the bounds of the historic gold town and the latter, a welcome oasis following a winding road trip through one of Victoria’s most stunning Alpine landscapes.
A winning idea…
According to our research*, Lake Sambell’s evolutions go back to a 1928 Ideal Towns Competition, following which the victorious Beechworth’s prize winnings went towards its construction. Located on a former mining site, the lake now offers a place of respite from the harsh summer heat – something no doubt the miners originally working the land would have enjoyed after a long, hard day on the goldfields!
We joined holiday makers flocking to the Sandy Beach swimming area, splashing in the warm shallows as ducks floated just out of reach and fish darted in and out of the reedy foreshore. There was nothing on anyone’s minds but summer fun and that, of course, is what it’s all about. There’s an undercover barbecue area nearby, a great children’s playground and a public restroom area – everything you need for a day by the lake.
Whether you’re keen to lie on the shore watching the insides of your eyelids or you prefer taking to the water on a canoe, pack your bathers next time you head to Beechworth – if it wasn’t for other commitments, we’d probably still be there, lying on our backs and floating in the warm water layers close to shore, begging for just one minute more…
Live in the sunshine… drink the wild air – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Swimming above the clouds
There was no hiding the chill coming off the water in Lake Catani, even on a hot summer’s day, but it was all part of the fun! It was a game of ‘Who Dares Wins’ for the 52 Weekends North East Victoria family, dipping their feet in and out, jumping off the jetty steps for a quick paddle, then racing out to warm up before doing it all over again.
We based ourselves at the main public picnic spot, separate to Lake Catani’s public camping area. Under the shade of towering gums, it was the perfect location for a summer picnic – and popular too! We were joined by kayakers, bush walkers and all kinds of holiday makers, but there was enough room for everyone to set themselves up and not feel at all crowded.
There’s so much to see on Mount Buffalo that it you can’t book in and stay a few days at the Lake Catani camping grounds, we’d recommend you allow for a full day up there, arriving as early as possible to give yourself time to explore as widely as you can. And if you’ve got time, end the day at by taking the tourist road to its finishing point at The Horn picnic area to enjoy a spectacular sunset, looking out to the surrounding mountains and the valleys below – you won’t regret it!
Lake Sambell, Beechworth
Lake Catani, Mt Buffalo
Click here to see a historic picture of people ice skating on Lake Catani – according to the website, this hasn’t been done since the early 1970s
Click here to find more Mount Buffalo walks of varying distances and degrees of difficulty