Surprise! Lake Argyle is Actually Pretty Rad

Lake Argyle went down in the books as a place that pleasantly surprised me. I didn’t have the highest of hopes that a massive man-made lake with a dam as its premier attraction would impress me – but I couldn’t turn down a generous staff discount and free ride there the day after my contract at El Questro ended, so off I went.

And goodness, I’m SO glad I gave Lake Argyle a chance. I had a fantastic couple days soaking up the sun and glorious lakeside views. Here’s what I (along with my adopted ELQ family) got up to —

Lake Argyle Infinity Pool

It’s worth it to stay at the Lake Argyle Caravan Park just for access to its lakeside infinity pool, but even if you’re not staying overnight you can purchase a day pass. Within minutes of arriving, we made a beeline for the pool – just in time to catch the golden hour light warming up the lake. The sun sets behind the pool rather than over the lake, but the sky is pretty all around. I didn’t expect the water to be so chilly, though! I’m sure it feels amazing as a respite from the midday sun, but around sunset/sunrise you might be shivering in it. Or maybe that’s just me being a cold-intolerant wuss?

Lake Argyle infinity pool

Lake Argyle infinity pool

While sunset’s a beautiful time to enjoy the Lake Argyle infinity pool, loads of other people will have the same idea. Just after sunset and right before the pool closes, you might be lucky enough to have it to yourself; otherwise, aim to get there shortly after the pool opens in the morning. I hit the pool as soon as it opened, let the older folks take a quick dip, and I’d say within a half hour I was by myself in the pool – aka prime selfie time!

Lake Argyle infinity pool

Lake Argyle infinity pool

Newly inspired, I’m eager to check more scenic infinity pools off my *to swim in* list (besides Lake Argyle’s infinity pool, I’ve also enjoyed the Chatrium Hotel infinity pool in Bangkok). Any suggestions for other gorgeous infinity pools around the world I should experience someday?

Ord River Gorge Walk

After a day of sitting on a bus and an afternoon of lazing by the pool, I felt like I had to get more foot mileage in so I asked reception if there were any hikes I could do from the caravan park. Slightly disappointed that there were only a couple of *walks* (not hikes), all under 2km, I somewhat randomly resigned myself to the Ord River Gorge walk which starts just across the street from the park.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don’t always need to make a punishing trek to reap the reward of stunning landscape views. I only had to walk 10 minutes before I was smacked with this view:

Lake Argyle hike

This simple trail wound its way uphill and around the dam, offering similar views at varying angles. I was giddy with excitement at how beautiful Lake Argyle had turned out to be, how easy it had been to discover such a drastically different view from the one afforded at the park, and best of all: how I had this little slice of it all to myself that morning.

I sat perched on an overhang watching the cloud shadows pass over the gorge, waiting for the sun to light up the landscape, and loved every minute of it.

Lake Argyle Ord River Gorge hike

Lake Argyle hike

Lake Argyle hike

Lake Argyle Sunset Cruise

As a rule, you come to Lake Argyle to experience the lake cruise. Though the lunch cruise buffet was tempting, we opted for the sunset cruise instead.

Yeah, it felt a bit commercial and maybe some of the captain’s jokes were cringe-worthy, but none of that really matters when you’re on a boat with the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin. Throw in some islands kissed by the golden hour glow and big puffy cloud reflections on a still lake and it’s pretty easy to forget you’re on a tour with a bunch of families and retirees.

Lake Argyle sunset cruise

Lake Argyle sunset cruise

We got up close to some crocodiles, wallaroos, and exotic birds whose names I didn’t bother making mental note of. Just before sunset, we stopped for a swim in the middle of the lake and I couldn’t get over how WARM the water was. How is the lake warmer than the infinity pool?! Too trippy. We all had a ball repeatedly jumping in from the roof of the boat and imbibing in some beer and wine while in the water. I’m pretty sure I lost at least half of my wine to the lake while trying to tread water holding the plastic cup above my head, but constant refills made that a non-issue.

Lake Argyle sunset cruise

Lake Argyle sunset cruise

Bird at Lake Argyle

Crocodile at Lake Argyle

And then: sunset over Lake Argyle. Western Australian sunsets have a habit of being underwhelming at first, then igniting the sky about 15 minutes after the sun has disappeared. This one did just that.

Lake Argyle sunset

Note that I received a generous ELQ staff discount on accommodation at the Lake Argyle Caravan Park and on a sunset cruise, but was under no obligation to review or write about them. As always, all opinions expressed here and elsewhere on this blog are my unbiased own, and are uninfluenced by any gifts or incentives I may receive.

Frugal Facts

As of September 2015 —
Campsites at Lake Argyle Caravan Park cost AU$16 per adult per night. A day pass to the park, which includes use of the infinity pool, costs AU$10 per adult.

The lunch cruise costs AU$104 per adult and includes lunch (duh!), while the sunset cruise costs AU$90 per adult and includes beer, wine, and cheese.

Lindsay Buckley is the photographer and travel blogger behind Frugal Frolicker. She's a New Yorker currently based in Sydney, Australia, documenting outdoor travel experiences Down Under and beyond. Follow along with Lindsay's travel photography on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for the monthly Frugal Frolicker newsletter!

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