When I visited Lake Nillahcootie I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of access to the water,
clean sand under foot, warm water in the shallows and the expansive views of the surrounding State Park.
There is a designated swimming area on the western side of the lake in the picnic area, about 200 metres south of
the dam wall.
Above: The view from the designated swimming area towards the boat ramp
(Order this image)
You need to wade out for some distance if you want a swim in deeper water, or play in the shallows at whatever
depth you like. As with all irrigation storages, water levels often drop to low levels in late summer and autumn, so
spring or early summer is the best time to visit, particularly in dry years. Lake Nillahcootie is shallower than
other major irrigation storages in Victoria and has no snowmelt from catchments upstream, so the water heats up
earlier in the year and stays relatively warm. This makes it one of the best spots for a swim in early spring when
other lakes are still too cold to swim in. The corollary of this is a greater tendency for these shallow, warm
waters to generate algal blooms in late summer and early autumn, however the managing authority erects warning signs
when this occurs.
Above: A shady spot on the sandy shores of Lake Nillahcootie
(Order this image)
The cove immediately to the left of the designated swimming area has many submerged trees, visible
when the water level drops, so steer clear of this area.
On summer weekends this is a popular water skiing and fishing location, but if you are passing by on a
weekday, the lake can be positively tranquil.
Other Information Before You Go:
Midland Hwy, Lima South, 200 km (approx. 2 hr 45 mins drive) north east of the Melbourne CBD
Take Maroondah Hwy from Melbourne and turn north into the Midland Hwy at Maindample.
The swimming area is on the western side of the lake.
Picnic tables, car park, lawns, toilets, boat ramp
Maximum water depth:
Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required:
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
No boats with sleeping or toilet facilities allowed. Dogs permitted.
Shade available out of the water
Open 8am to sunset
Yes to picnic area. The water is often at some distance from the shore and could be
difficult to reach without assistance.
Camping is not permitted on the lake foreshore. Camping, carvans and cabins are available at the
Lake Nillahcootie Camp
which is located a couple of kilometres south of the designated swimming area. Alternatively, you can try
accommodation in nearby Mansfield
, roughly 20 km south of the lake.
Mt Samaria State Park
Before you head out, make sure to read the
swimming safety information
and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the car park in front of the designated swimming area.
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