The town of Kununurra lies on the banks of Lake Kununurra. The lake (along with Lake Argyle ) provides water for the Ord River Irrigation Scheme. The lake not only provides a stunning backdrop for the locals but is a major draw card for tourism. You can fish, boat cruise or even take a ride on the float plane which is based on the lake. The lake provides the perfect environment for wildlife such as birds, fish and freshwater crocodiles. The lake has over twenty different species of fish and a large variety of waterbirds.
The water levels in the lake are keep relatively constant except for when the lake is drained. The draining occurs only once or twice a year to help control the weed growth. Because the water level has remain considerably constant there is well developed vegetation along the shores which help to sustain the large, bird, fish and crocodile population.
Remember not to pat the crocodiles they can get very snappy.
Lake Kununurra is one of the lakes formed by the damming of the Ord River in the State’s far north. The lake was created in 1963 following the completion of the $10 million Diversion Dam. The Diversion Dam was part of Stage One of the Ord River Scheme which involved both State & Federal Governments in developing an irrigation system in the dry Kimberley district.
Stage One of Ord River Scheme
Stage One involved the building of the Diversion Dam and setting up 30 farms that would grow various crops. Crop trials were carried out and sugar cane and cotton stood out as having the most potential for the area. When the first commercial crop of cotton was planted it wasn’t long before a plague of heliothis moths attacked it. This forced the farmers into changing planting times of crops and resorting to increasing the amount of insecticides used on the crops, pushing the costs up. By 1969 farmers had returned back to cattle and placing them on to irrigated pastures. Stage One became somewhat of a failure, with the last commercial crop being grown in 1974 due mainly to the rising costs in fuel, fertilisers and freight.