On our recent trip to Kununurra we did a day trip to Lake Argyle. It is about an hour’s drive to Lake Argyle, which is Australia’s largest artificial lake by volume. It is impossible to grasp the size of it from the land and we have done a boat trip in the past. We have also paddled from Lake Argyle back to Kununurra over three days in the past and this was a great trip and thoroughly recommended. There are companies that will drive you and a canoe to the lake and they provide you with all that you need for the trip. Depending on the flow of the water you can actually get away with very little paddling the first day as you set off from below the dam wall, but you will need to use  some energy by the last day as you enter the relatively still waters of Lake Kununurra.

Lake Argyle

Crossing the dam wall gives you access to a great little park, which is full of birdlife and views both towards the wall and downstream.

Dam wall with sluice gates open

View downstream from the dam wall

The view downstream is sadly from quite a height and we used our scope to scan for anything of interest across the water and we were thrilled to see three White-browed Crake carefully walking atop the vegetation growing on the surface of the water.

Now, if you have somehow got to here and not seen a crocodile at either Ivanhoe’s Crossing or Parry’s Lagoon Nature Reserve then you will definitely see one or two here!

Crocodiles below the dam wall

As we entered the park we noticed the tap was dripping and although it was not potable for humans it was much appreciated by the Silver-crowned Friarbirds. This was a great area to see these birds close up and a nice change from our local Little Friarbirds in Broome.

Silver-crowned Friarbird enjoying a dripping tap

A family of Pied Butcherbirds were exploring the small park for anything that they could scavenge and as you can see, they do have a rather nasty looking bill.

Pied Butcherbird

Did I mention the nasty look they can give you!?

Pied Butcherbird-with attitude!

Along with the Pied Butcherbird came several Great Bowerbirds and they were also exploring. They were looking for more “treasures” to add to their bower to try and tempt a female into the lair and consequently mate with her. Once we sat at the picnic table we were of even more interest to them and they came to investigate further.

 Pied Butcherbird and Great Bowerbird

The male Great Bowerbird has a purple crest that it displays to attract a female and I found it near impossible to photograph! You can just see part of it on the back of its head in the second photo. The little white area rises up and displays the most magnificent purple colours.

Male Great Bowerbird

One particular bird was rather intrigued with my camera and the noise it made and was bold enough to hop onto the table for a closer look!

An inquisitive Great Bowerbird!

It didn’t take too much investigating to find the bower and all the “treasures”, which were mainly white rocks and bones and a few old-fashioned ring pulls from drink cans. The birds spend a lot of time maintaining the bower and often rearrange the items in it.

Great Bowerbird bower

As you drive around the area you also need to keep an eye out for the cleverly camouflaged Spinifex Pigeon. We have seen them perched atop termite mounds as well as in rocky outcrops and they have quite an impressive “punk” look about themselves! Our Crested Pigeons at home are similar with the upright feathers on their heads, but these birds are just that little bit more colourful.

Spinifex Pigeon

If you happen to be in the Kununurra area it is definitely worth a trip to Lake Argyle to see the birdlife and especially if you have not seen a crocodile yet!

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!