More of a farm dam than a lake, swim horizontally to stay warm in this heavily stratified lake with a very cold layer underneath. During my
swim here, the water was quite mild across the surface, but as soon as I put my legs down and treaded water, it was like dropping your
feet into an ice box.
Above: The best entry into the water for swimming at Shaws Lake in Blackwood
(Order this image)
The lake gets deep fairly quickly away from the bank, particularly as you swim across the lake, parallel with the
dam wall. This constructed dam is not the prettiest swim in the region, with dry and dusty tracks leading down to the water through a
thin, parched eucalypt forest that looks on enviously at this water body. However the water is refreshing with plenty of room to swim back and forth.
Getting into the water is easiest from the north-west corner, straight down the hill from the picnic area. Here there are no reeds and
the entry is fairly gradual. From here you can push off into deeper water and swim around 30-40 metres uninterrupted towards the opposite bank.
Access from the northern end of the lake along the dam wall is difficult due to the steep entry, and the eastern and southern shores are lined by
thick reeds and fallen trees. The space available to wade in the shallows and enter/exit the lake is relatively small, so if there are other people here
before you, there might be some swimming traffic in that corner of the lake. Due to the depth and restricted shore access, an inflatable would be desirable
if you are planning to spend a lot of time in the water here.
Above: The picnic area at the top of the hill at Shaws Lake in Blackwood
(Order this image)
The picnic facilities at the top of the hill are fairly basic, but sufficient for a picnic or wood fired barbecue after your swim.
The main advantage of this swimming spot is that because the base and wall of the dam are lined with clay, it holds water throughout summer. On my most
recent visit in mid-January, the Lerderderg River at the nearby mineral springs was only a trickle, but Shaws Lake was still full of water. It is good to know that
when you aim for the Lerderderg River and it is running dry and stagnating, Shaws Lake can be a reliable backup swim.
This lake was a popular swimming spot, captured on a postcard in the first half of the 20th century. State Library archives show the lake had a tower and a
small jetty leading out into the water (see below). I could not see any sign of this past infrastructure when visiting here, with only a few more recent
fallen logs at the site of the tower.
Above: Historical swimming at Shaws Lake in Blackwood, circa 1920-1954, sourced from the State Library of Victoria
Below is a quick video guide to swimming at the lake including testing with a temperature probe why my feet felt so cold in the water but my hands did not. I tested
this on two separate visits and got the same results.
Other Information Before You Go:
Shaws Lake Picnic Area, Lerderderg State Park, Shaws Lake Track, Blackwood, 95 km (approx. 1 hr 20 minute drive) north west of the Melbourne CBD
From Melbourne head along the Western Fwy and turn off at the Greendale exit (route C318) near Myrniong.
Follow the road north for 16 km and then head east along Old Golden Point Rd, just before reaching Blackwood. After 1 km turn
right into Golden Point Road, then after a further 750 metres, head left into North Blackwood Road. Follow this unsealed road
for 1.6 km, before taking a hairpin turn into Shaws Lake Track. The car park for the picnic area is approximately 1 km from
the hairpin turn. On my visit, in dry weather, the road was suitable for 2WD vehicles. The lake is about a 50 metre walk downhill from
the picnic area.
Picnic tables, car park, fire places, rotunda, information boards. There are no bins so take your rubbish with you,
and no toilets. Toilets are available at the Blackwood Mineral Springs, a 1.6 km walk along the track that runs down the hill.
Mild to cold
Coarse sand and clay
Maximum water depth:
Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required:
Experienced due to the poor visibility and rapid changes in temperature at depth.
Inexperienced swimmers could wade into the water, under supervision, in the north-west corner of the lake.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
Only light fires in the fireplaces provided. No firearms, cats or other pets. No
disturbing or removal of plants, animals, other natural features and cultural sites. No feeding wildlife.
Shade available in and out of the water
The picnic area next to the car park is reasonably flat, but there is no wheelchair access provided to the water.
There is no campground at Shaws Lake. If you want to camp in the Lerderderg State Park, the nearest campground
is at Ambler Lane, approximately 4 km to the south east of Shaws Lake as the crow flies (but considerably longer by 4WD or on foot). If you want to stay overnight in the area, there are
accommodation options in Blackwood
the caravan park at the Blackwood mineral springs, from which you can walk to the lake.
Blackwood mineral springs, which are a 1.6 km walk downhill from Shaws Lake, or go for a swim in Lerderderg Gorge
at the southern end of the Lerderderg 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 the picnic area near the lake.
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