Second Look at Lake Somerset
in the scenic Brisbane Valley a mere 15 kilometers from the sleepy
town of Kilcoy, made famous by its claim to the home of the mythical
Yowie, lays one of Queenslands most popular fishing locations.
Prior to the stocking of fish in Queenslands lakes and rivers,
Lake Somerset was always a popular destination for camping and
water skiing enthusiasts alike. Due to the development of the
fisheries enhancement program and serious numbers of fish fingerlings
being liberated into Somerset by the local fish stocking group,
it has been one of the main stays of freshwater fishing in not
only the greater Brisbane area but Australia as well. It is now
more common to see a fishing boat on the water fishing than hearing
the roar of boats water skiing.
There is evidence to suggest that in the late 1893, Henry
Plantagenet Somerset, a property owner in the Stanley River Gorge
area heard a rumbling in the river and witnessed a huge wall of
water thundering down the Gorge. It is suggested he sent riders
to telegram a warning to the residents of Brisbane of the impending
disaster that was about to strike only to be ignored. Shortly
thereafter large areas of Brisbane's lower laying areas were underwater
in one of the largest floods since European settlement that washed
away the Albert St Bridge at Indooroopily.
the mid 1920's a preliminary investigation was made into constructing
a dam across the Stanley River. In 1933 the bureau of industry
recommended the dam be built on the Stanley River just above its
junction with the Brisbane River, between Mt. Brisbane and Little
Mt. Brisbane, providing flood mitigation and water storage for
Brisbane, Ipswich and the lower valley. Government approval in
1934 saw the Stanley River Works Board formed and construction
began in on Somerset Township and the Somerset Dam wall.
to World War II, construction was halted indefinitely until 1948
when work on the project was resumed. The last of the main structure
was completed in 1953 and a hydroelectric power station was commissioned.
Somerset Dam was completed in 1959 after the installation of internal
machinery and floodgates and named after Henry Plantagenet Somerset.
Some 450 workers were employed during construction while the township
population grew to over 1000.
INFORMATION: When full, Lake Somerset holds some 380 000 megalitres
of water plus a further 524 000 megalitres for flood mitigation
from a catchment area of 1330 square kilometers. The surface area
of water covers 4210 hectares and reaches 55 km upstream. The
wall has 203 000 cubic meters of concrete is 53 meters high, 305
meters long and 41 meters thick at its base. Water is released
into Lake Wivenhoe as required, which in turn is released into
the Brisbane River. The hydroelectric power station is a relatively
small plant of 4 kW and was refurbished in 1989.
information on Lake Somerset including Lake Map available here.
There are two public access points to Lake Somerset. The Spit
is a kilometer from the Somerset Dam wall. It is a daylight till
dark area with boatramp, toilets and picnic tables available.
This area is popular with the water skiing fraternity. No camping
is allowed. The main recreational area is Kirkleagh. The huge
area has two separate boat ramp areas with 6 lanes of ramp all
up. Numerous toilet and shower blocks with good supplies of hot
water are scattered around this campground. Clean drinking water
is also provided as well as electric BarBQ's for campers. A well-supplied
kiosk is open most weekends and some weekdays. All forms of boating
are allowed on Lake Somerset with virtually no restrictions unless
low water levels are prevalent.
To date there have been over 3 million fish fingerlings released
into Lake Somerset. Stocked species are Australian bass, golden
perch, silver perch, murray cod, mary river cod, snub nosed gar
and Saratoga with silver perch and golden perch being the majority
of previous releases.
annual Kirkleagh Klassic fishing competition held in October is
one of the most popular freshwater fishing competitions in Australia
drawing crowds of up to 6000 and is the main sources of fund raising
to purchase fish here. Although Somerset is renown for producing
trophy sized golden perch the real success story over the last
five years has been bass. For every fish fingerling released,
the bass are up to five times more likely to be recaptured than
golden perch and 30 times more likely than silvers because bass
are much more aggressive feeders that actively hunt for prey as
opposed to waiting in ambush for a feed to come to them.
snub nosed gar were introduced into Lake Somerset several year
ago after local fishing clubs in conjunction with the DPI Fisheries
using a special permit, caught around 500 specimens in Lake Wivenhoe
and transported them up to Somerset. Since then they have multiplied
into hundreds of thousand and are a great source of food for predator
fish as well as the endemic population of cormorants (shags).
They are also a great fish for kids to target and catch using
fairly inexpensive gear. As well as the stocked species there
are several other species that breed freely and a couple of these
are also of interest to anglers. Spangled perch and eel-tailed
catfish are naturally occurring and are a common catch among bait
are an introduced pest fish from Africa. These noxious (meaning
harmful to the environment) fish must be destroyed immediately
if captured and not returned to the water. It is held they are
quite good to eat, but should be filleted at the lake and the
frames put into the bins provided. Banded grunter somehow managed
to make their way into Lake Somerset from their natural area starting
around Bundaberg heading north. These are only small fish growing
to a maximum size of less than half a kilo and are an annoyance
to all bait anglers, often picking a bait to pieces before a more
desirable fish can be tempted. They should also be destroyed when
caught. Redclaw crayfish are present here but not in the numbers
that exist in other nearby impoundments possibly due to the large
amounts of golden perch that are released into Somerset every
FUTURE: The owning body of Lake Somerset has been
until recently the South East Qld Water Board (SEQWB). A recent
incorportisation of this body has at this stage meant no changes
to recreational access or activities here, noting that a review
is underway. * A spokesman for the
new South East Qld Water Corporation (SEQWC) said, "It is all
normal sailing just as before and there are no changes planned
for the immediate future". With the success of the fish stocking
program at Lake Somerset by the local stocking group (SWFSA),
DPI Fisheries and SEQWC the future looks bright for freshwater
fishing in SE Qld. In the near future, mangrove jack,tarpon, trevally
and jungle perch are real possibilities to be stocked into not
only Lake Somerset, but also many other of eastern Qld's impoundments.
I can hardy wait.
the time of writing this information was correct. The newly formed
SEQWCorp have entered a policy of closing some public access points
and offering much of the remaining access points around Lakes
Somerset & Wivenhoe up for lease.