Trout fishing, camping, bushwalking, nature… Lake Mackintosh: a jewel in the west.
Moods of Lake Mackintosh
Views of Mt Farrell, rising from the lake. Lush green forests hugging the water’s edge. Mountain ranges filling the horizon, hidden by misty low cloud on a winter’s day. A clear, warm, still autumn day as reflections become a mirror within the lake. Lake Mackintosh shares so many moods.
Lake Mackintosh, a man-made lake built by Hydro Tasmania is located only five minutes drive from Tullah, a former mining town, on the west coast of Tasmania. As part of the youngest of our hydro-power systems, the lake was created in the 1980s, with the main basin originally being a button grass swamp prior to inundation. As part of the Pieman River Development, the Mackintosh Power Station began operating in 1982.
Today, Lake Mackintosh is a jewel. Forests of myrtle, sassafras, dogwood , eucalypt and native ferns, thick and green, grow almost to the lakes edge. Like all Tasmanian Hydro lakes, Lake Mackintosh is well stocked with both rainbow and wild brown trout, whilst also a haven for native wildlife. One sees possum, wallaby, wombats and Tasmanian devils quite often.
Getting to Lake Mackintosh
Western side of the lake with Mt Farrell views: at the northern end of Tullah, turn east off the Murchison Highway A10 onto the signposted Mackintosh Dam road, which will take you to a single lane road across the main dam wall. Then cross the spillway (provided the spillway is not flooding) where you will see several gravel tracks that lead down to the lakes edge. Continue past these tracks and it will lead to the Tullabardine Dam end of the lake.
Southern end of the lake: access to the lake can also be gained at the southern end of Tullah. Take the Lake Murchison signposted turnoff (also to the east). Travel the Lake Murchison Road about 4kms and take a sharp left onto a gravel road (not signposted) which will lead you to the lake’s southern edge.
Trout Fishing: Sophia Tunnel from Lake Murchison
Stocked with both brown and rainbow trout (an angler’s paradise), fishing enthusiasts travel to Lake Mackintosh to test their angling skills. Boat access is available and you can fish with artificial lures, live bait or the ‘fly’, for a maximum bag limit of 12 trout per day. Trout size averages around 1kg, but trout up to 4kgs in size are caught in these waters. Fishing is good at either end of the lake, but many fishermen prefer to fish at what is known as the ‘Sophia Tunnel’ area.
Water from Lake Murchison is fed through the Sophia Tunnel (an underground pipe) into Lake Mackintosh for power generation, and when this occurs (known as ‘the tunnel running’ to local fishermen) the force of water causes the lake bed to stir up, encouraging trout to feed in this area. Fisherman in boats and on shore can be seen casting their baits and lures into the swirling waters in the hope of catching the big one!
There are many bushwalking tracks around Lake Mackintosh where you can see the sheer beauty of the nature of the area. The challenging bushwalk to the Mt Farrell summit takes you through lush forest, past old mines, through areas of buttongrass and will reward you with magical views of the wilderness; looking over Lake Mackintosh, Lake Herbert, Mt Murchison and the township of Tullah. This walk will take about three hours return.
For the more leisurely wanderer, a stroll along the lake’s edge brings much pleasure and views of the lush forests surrounding the lake. Beautiful driftwood can be found along the shores and on a perfect day the reflections on the mirror flat lake are magical.
Camping at Lake Mackintosh
There are several lakeside camping areas available on the western side of the lake, and one area suitable at the southern end. Mainly suited to campervans, caravans and motor-homes, there are some suitable tent sites available. Campers must be self sufficient as no facilities are available, and carry their own firewood and drinking water.
Please note: a fishing licence is required before catching trout in Tasmania’s lakes. Licences are available from agents throughout Tasmania including tackle, outdoor stores and all Service Tasmania shops (along with a free brochure, Fishing Code for Anglers). If camping at Lake Mackintosh, please keep our state beautiful and take your rubbish with you.