Around the edge of the outermost extent of the lake is a ring of river red gums.
Some skeletons of trees that grew earlier in the first half of the twentieth century, when lake levels were, on average, lower than at present times, dot the lake bed. Just before we arrived a huge storm had blown through knocking many branches off the living gums and blowing an empty watertank across the lake.
Many different types of birds inspect their surroundings from the towering branches.
A whistling kite's nest had been dislodged during the storm but the pair of kites was still hunting in their territory.
The Lake Cowal and West Wyalong area has an interesting human history. This is Wiradjuri country and people of the Wiradjuri nation welcomed other peoples who would gather in the area to trade and utilise the significant natural resources. Gold deposits attracted white miners and prospectors and the water supply facilitated livestock and cropping enterprises. Visitor access to the lake is managed by the Lake Cowal Conservation Centre (LCCC) through an arrangement with Evolution Mining who purchased the "Lake Cowal" homestead complex and property (seen here) in 2003. There is a good dirt road to this point where we parked when visiting the lake.
The original "Lake Cowal" homestead, built in 1888, was destroyed by fire in 1927. A new homestead, utilising some of the surviving buildings, was built in 1934. The LCCC has plans to rescue this homestead, now in need of some care and repairs, and establish a luxury campsite nearby for visitors. When wandering around the desolate buildings I could still sense that it had been a wonderful place to live with good views of the ever-changing lake and its ring of river red gums.
Mal Carnegie of the Lake Cowal Conservation Centre paddled a kayak to a man-made dam near the edge of open water to place a camera to record bird populations there. Mal was born in the district and has made the welfare of the lake his life's work.
Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Sally Russell and Mal Carnegie of the Lake Cowal Conservation Centre for cheerful and helpful provision of information and access.
All photos and text Copyright Helen McFadden