If you like lakes which are isolated, pristine and well used by native birds and wildlife, then Western Australia's Lake Maringup might appeal. Hidden away in the D'entrecasteaux National Park it is all of those things, but there is a catch ... it isn't easy to get to.
From Northcliffe, in the forests of WA's south west corner, a long drive along little used gravel roads (Deeside Coast Road and Chesapeake Road) can take you to within a few hours walk of Lake Maringup. The point where the Bibbulmun Track crosses Chesapeake Road is the nearest you can get by car; from here it is all on foot. However, most of Lake Maringup's visitors arrive by hiking on the Bibbulmun Track, which probably provides the best experience of this freshwater gem.
I visited the lake while hiking the track in the winter month of June. From the tiny town of Northcliffe it is a two day walk to Lake Maringup - two days of splendid isolation in which the forest and undulating sandy heath help to shift the mind into "nature appreciation" mode. A campsite consisting of a shelter, a composting toilet and a rainwater tank overlooks part of Lake Maringup - perfect for enjoying the lake at dusk and dawn.
The location of the lake close to the campsite also makes it ideal for washing off the sweat and dirtiness of the walk. It was chilly in winter, but I enjoyed a refreshing and cleansing dip as the sun cast its golden dusk light on the karri trees and Warren river cedar fringing the lake.
Being one of the largest natural freshwater lakes in WA, there is plenty of room. But there is also a lot of stuff growing in the clean water, and presumably many creatures living among it. Not knowing what might be there, I played it safe and didn't go out very far. The sound of the frogs and birds made it a delightful spot for a daily wash.
For me, the joy in hiking on tracks like the Bibbulmun is not in covering many kilometres, but in spending time soaking up the beauty of unspoiled places which the track gives access to. Lake Maringup is one such place. The track provides the access for those prepared to walk, and the campsite near the lake allows those equipped with eating and sleeping gear to spend time there, enjoying the dusk and dawn tranquillity and the night-time sounds.
Lake Maringup isn't a lake to be briefly looked at and photographed; rather it is a pristine wetland environment best appreciated by hiking to it and spending time there. For anyone walking the Bibbulmun Track south of Northcliffe, it is one of the highlights.
Bibbulmun Track Foundation - heaps of info about the track, including news
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