At Somerset Dam the crows really do fly…right at you!
Just 75 kilometres from the Sunshine Coast, as the crow flies, we discovered a great place for a short-stay break.
Dinah and I were due to fly out to Indonesia in mid-November, so we decided to take the caravan out for a short break before we headed overseas. We agreed that somewhere close and a destination that we hadn’t visited before would be appropriate. Living on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, we are surrounded by some of the most naturally beautiful places to visit and explore in Australia. The Somerset region is a rural paradise set in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range behind Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. About 75 kilometres as the crow flies from the Sunshine Coast, or about 120 kilometres by road, Somerset Dam is the jewel in the crown of the Somerset region. Construction commenced on Somerset Dam in 1935 and including cessation during WW2, the dam was competed in 1959. Somerset Dam has dual roles. The first, that of one of Brisbane’s most important water catchments. The second, as Lake Somerset, a water wonder-world second to none in South East Queensland. Somerset Dam and Lake Somerset offer excellent camping and water sport facilities and are the perfect base for touring the surrounding towns and countryside.
Being a little over one and a half hours from home, for Dinah and I this was the ideal spot for our short-stay getaway. Camping at Somerset Dam is a bit like free-camping, except that it’s not free. The place to stay is the NRMA Holiday Park. Set on 45 hectares of natural bush habitat on the shores of the Lake Somerset, the park offers cabins, lake-view villas, safari tents and log cabins, as well as powered and unpowered caravan and camping sites. Sites are generous in size and many have glorious water views. Guests are invited to spread out and enjoy ‘back to basics’ free-form camping under the stars. Park facilities include a camp kitchen, barbecue areas, children’s playground and even mini golf. The store and Park HQ at the entrance to the park can provide basis essentials. Unlike most caravan parks, you can actually enjoy an outdoor open fire, provided it is contained in the fireplace provided. Personally, I believe that camping just isn’t camping without an open fire. This is a great way to take the chill out of the evening lake air. You can book your Lake Somerset stay at: www.nrmaparksandresorts.com.au
A water wonder-world
Without a doubt, the main attraction of Somerset Dam is the lake and the glorious still water of Lake Somerset. While Dinah and I were here for the simply joy of camping in such a pristine setting, the hundreds of others camping at the lake for the weekend or just visiting for the day were hell-bent on reeking every moment of joy out of their time on the water…on jet-skies, water-skies, wakeboards, powerboats, sailboats and ‘tinnies’. The beautiful thing about Lake Somerset is that it is enormous. With a total surface area of around 42 square kilometres, there is room for everyone, even for us on-shore anglers content to simply throw a line in for an elusive bass. This we did, without much luck. But we really enjoyed the experience.
As the crow flies
Somerset Dam is also renowned for its birdlife. We just happened to be at Somerset Dam right on nesting season for the numerous crows that inhabit this area, so we got to experience the birdlife, firsthand. If you’ve ever been swooped by large birds, then you know that crows are definitely one species not to be messed with! Walking to the park’s amenities block was a matter of running the gauntlet of a half a dozen crazed crows who saw their mission in life as terrifying everyone who encroached upon their territory. Having an ensuite in the caravan was a distinct advantage as it limited our visits to the amenities. Any essential visits meant going the long way around in the hope of avoiding the shiny black predators. Mental note – don’t camp at Somerset Dam in October again!
There is also lots to see and do in the Somerset region. The two main towns nearby are Kilcoy and Esk and are both well and truly worth visiting. Depending on which way you approach Somerset Dam, you will pass through one of these towns. Kilcoy is a small country town best known for its beef cattle and increasingly, for its vineyards. Possibly it’s most notable attraction is the giant statue of the Yowie, the fictional Australian equivalent of the Abominable Snowman. Its weekend markets selling local craft and farm-fresh produce are a great place to stock-up if you are camping at nearby Somerset Dam. Kilcoy is also an accredited RV-friendly town, so you will be welcome to stay here on your way to the dam. Located on the D’Aguliar Highway about 1 hour from Brisbane. Passing through Kilcoy, you are just 26 kilometres from Somerset Dam.
If you are travelling towards Somerset Dam along the Brisbane Valley Highway from Ipswich, you’ll pass through the picturesque and historic town of Esk. The town is most noted for its historic buildings, in the main constructed from timber and iron. A classic that is worth visiting is the elegant Bellevue Homestead, a great example of an affluent Queensland home of the late 19thcentury. The Club Hotel with its cast-iron balustrades and gracious verandas is a fine example of a traditional Queensland country pub. Stop and take the time to look round. Kilcoy and Esk are part of the region’s cultural history. For things to see and do in the region and towns, check out: www.visitbrsbane.com.auor www.aussietowns.com.au
We had a great four days relaxing on the shores of Lake Somerset. We will definitely be back, but not in crow-nesting season!
Main picture: A spectacular sunset over Somerset Dam in Southern Queensland
- Somerset Dam, in all its glory
- A water wonderland
- Of course there are ducks here. Its a lake!
- Our campsite was right on the edge of the lake
- Yes, open fires are permitted in the braziers provided
- Watching the sun go down across the lake
- Magnificent, tranquil sunsets
- Camping just isn’t camping without a fire