ONE of the great spots to go and just chill in the Gladstone region has to be Lake Awoonga.

A quick 20-minute drive, hop out of the car, sit on the bank in the shade, read a book, watch the birds, have a barbie and sit under the many shelters dotted around the area - absolute bliss.

Well, guess what?

Get out on the water and the lake takes on a totally different perspective.

I was lucky this week to take a trip on the lake in Lake Awoonga Boating and Leisure Hire's barbecue pontoon boat, along with other people in media and some of the staff from GAPDL.

If you thought sitting on the bank near the carpark was beautiful, a trip around the lake will make you go "wow"!

I know that was the impression I had this week.

There are so many nooks and crannies around the lake which are only accessible by boat and which would make a fabulous place to pull up, have a picnic away from absolutely everyone else, apart from birds and, on occasion, a few heads of cattle.

Our trip on the boat was a pretty interesting one. We were driven by co-owner Nigel (everyone knows him as Nudge) Trezise who was able to show us all the highlights along the way, but that's not the normal way of things. Normally you would hire the boat, load up the food and head off and explore at your own pace.

Across the lake we came across a flock of pelicans, all sitting in the lake's edge having a chat, further around we found some cattle feasting on the grass beside the lake, and even further around were literally hundreds of birds flying, roosting and generally enjoying themselves.

You just don't see those things from the water's edge by the car park.

In many ways it was a fascinating trip.

The scenery and birdlife was stunning.

But aside from that was the weather.

We left the shore and launched out on to a millpond in beautiful, warm sunshine. About an hour later, when we were over the other side of the lake we could hear thunder, and there were menacing clouds in the hills further west.

As the time moved along the wind started to pick up, and the lake became a bit choppy. Totally safe, but it had people scurrying for cover as the water splashed aboard. By the time we got back to dock the rain had started to pelt down and we were thankful of the bimini canopy which kept us all dry - well almost.

Tell you what - I'll be heading out there one day soon, hiring a boat and taking a good look around.

A flock of pelicans stop for a chat on the edges of Lake Awoonga.
A flock of pelicans stop for a chat on the edges of Lake Awoonga. Allen Winter

LAKE AWOONGA

The main water supply for the Gladstone Region

Officially opened in March 1985

The spillway wall was raised by 10 metres in 2002

Covers 6750 hectares

Holds 777,000 megalitres of water

200,000 fish are released into the late each year including barramundi, sea mullett and mangrove jack

The raised spillway overflowed for the first time in January 2011 and reached a height of four metres above the wall. That record was surpassed in 2013 when the water level reached eight metres above the wall.

SELF DRIVE IN PARADISE

NEED to see more of Lake Awoonga? Drop in and say g'day to Nudge Trezise and Roxy Hourigan at Lake Awoonga Boating and Leisure Hire.

They'll set you up with a kayak, a boat, the barbie pontoon boat - whatever you want. They'll give you all the information you need to know and you can take off and go sightseeing, fishing or just relaxing on the water.

The couple set up their business in December last year, and now they have amassed six 4.2 metre runabouts, three 3.5 metre ones,the barbecue pontoon boat which seats 12 and a wide range of kayaks, including doubles, single fishing ones and junior ones.

The couple said the business is going pretty well - especially during school holidays when families come and have a day out on the water, and weekends are generally busy as well.

The barbecue boat is well fitted out with gas barbecue, comfortable seats, plenty of cover under the bimini - and it includes a toilet as well. 

All of the vessels are self-drive and there's no need for a boat licence - but your speed will be limited.



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