Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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May 2012 - Lake Hindmarsh
While we were at Nhill a couple of trips were made to look at Lake Hindmarsh which is a bit more than 40 kilometres from Nhill. This is a large body of water extending over 13,500 hectares with an additional 2,100 hectares of reserve, mostly as a narrow rim around the lake shore. Reported maximum depth varies from 3.5 to 6 metres but local advice is that the lake bed slopes very gently and waders must go a long way to be in water above their knees.

The Lake is surrounded mostly by flat crop-land, the northern end is adjacent to Birdcage Flora and Fauna Reserve which joins the Lake Reserve. The township of Jeparit is near the southern end; Rainbow is north-east of the northern end of the lake. Access from Nhill was via the bitumen (but narrow) Nhill-Rainbow Road with dirt or gravel access roads into the lake shore.

Lake Hindmarsh is a freshwater lake in an area of low rainfall (386 mm average annual) so it receives very little water from rain and relies on the Wimmera River to maintain water level in the lake. The Wimmera River has its headwaters on the northern side of the Grampians, where annual rainfall is about 1000 mm, and flows northward into progressively drier land, eventually reaching the southern end of Lake Hindmarsh near the town of Jeparit. That is the end of the Wimmera River.

Schulzes Beach
Schulzes Beach with boat launching ramp
River red gum
One of several river red gums lining Lake Hindmarsh. This species supposedly requires periodic flooding to remain healthy but this one was beside a bone dry lake for ten years until 2009. Either it is very resilient or it has recovered very well since 2009.
At the time of our visit in May 2012 there were signs along the lakeshore that water level had dropped about a third of a metre from the most recent highest level. But the water level still looked encouraging.

Water rarely flows out of Lake Hindmarsh which was dry for the duration of the recent drought. The lake was reportedly full in 1996 but afterwards dried out to such an extent that many local residents say they just about gave up hope of every seeing water in the lake again. But then the drought broke and a trickle of water from the Wimmera River reached the lake in October 2009 and successive wet seasons have seen the lake pretty well full.

If Lake Hindmarsh gets very full water can flow out of Overflow Creek at the northern end of the lake into Lake Albacutya.

Dead shrubs
Shrubs which grew on the dry lake bed have drowned in the returned water; dead shrubs line much of the lake shore.
There are several access points around Lake Hindmarsh, including;

#  Four Mile Beach Camping Ground at the southern extremity of the lake includes caravan park and toilets.
Approx GPS position is 36° 08' 10"S, 141° 56' 08"E. The access track leaves the intersection of the Jeparit and Lorquon Roads at about 36° 08'S, 141° 56'E.

#  Schulzes Beach half-way along the western shore has a parking area, concrete boat launching ramp and toilet block. Schulzes Beach is at 36° 02' 46"S, 141° 51' 26"E. An access road through cropland to Schulzes Beach leaves the Nhill-Rainbow road at about 36° 03'S, 141° 50'E.

#  The Wattles is a camping area at the mouth of Outlet Creek near the northern extremity of Lake Hindmarsh; there is a toilet and fireplace but no other facilities. A good site for bush-camping; bring your own water. The name probably comes from the number of wattle species growing there. The camping area is wooded and connected with the Birdcage Flora and Fauna Reserve to the north west.
The Wattles camping area is at 35° 56' 55"S, 141° 52' 24"E. The turnoff from the bitumen Nhill-Rainbow Road is at 35° 56' 40"S, 141° 52' 28"E. The access road is rarely graded sand.

#  A few additional access points, including a couple of camping areas, are described in the Parks Victoria Park Notes for Lake Hindmarsh Lake Reserve. Parks Victoria website (www.parkweb.vic.gov.au) did not recognise the keywords 'Hindmarsh' or 'Lake Hindmarsh' but Google quickly returned the link to the pdf Parks Note when 'Lake Hindmarsh Lake Reserve' was entered.
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