Lake KununurraLake 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 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 were returning cattle onto 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.
The town of Kununurra lies on the banks of the lake. 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 lake (along with Lake Argyle ) provides water for the Ord River Irrigation Scheme. 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.