Lake St Clair (Tasmania)

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Lake St Clair
Lake St Clair sunset.jpg
Lake St Clair is located in Tasmania
Lake St Clair
Lake St Clair
Location in Tasmania
LocationCentral Highlands, Tasmania
Coordinates42°4′S 146°10′E / 42.067°S 146.167°E / -42.067; 146.167Coordinates: 42°4′S 146°10′E / 42.067°S 146.167°E / -42.067; 146.167
TypeFreshwater lake
River sources
  • Narcissus River
  • Cuvier River
  • Hamilton Creek
Primary outflowsRiver Derwent
Basin countriesAustralia
Max. length15 km (9.3 mi)
Max. width3 km (1.9 mi)
Surface area45 km2 (17 sq mi)
Max. depth170 m (560 ft)
Surface elevation737 m (2,418 ft) AHD

Lake St Clair or leeawulenna is a natural freshwater lake located in the Central Highlands area of Tasmania, Australia. The lake forms the southern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. It has an area of approximately 45 square kilometres (17 sq mi), and a maximum depth of 160 metres (520 ft), making it Australia's deepest lake.

The lake is fed by Narcissus River, Cuvier River, and Hamilton Creek and marks the start of the River Derwent.[1]


Lake St Clair was formed through glacial erosion, along with the surrounding river valleys.


Lake St Clair is located on the edge of the Big River Tasmanian Aboriginal Nation, and there is evidence that they hunted on the surrounding button grass plains. Numerous small quarries and campgrounds are located nearby, with the closest dated site putting human occupation at 10,000 years ago.[2][3]

The first European explorer to see the lake was surveyor William Sharland in 1832, with George Frankland leading an expedition to it three years later. In 1840 James Calder cut a track from the lake to Macquarie Harbour, followed by another more practical track by Burgess. The Burgess track was maintained and recut by miners until 1883 when a new lower level route was discovered, which later became the Lyell Highway.[3]

The area surrounding the lake was used by snarer and hunters from 1860 until the collapse of the fur trade in the 1950s, although it was illegal from 1927 onwards.[3]

In 1937 the Derwent river was dammed just below the lake, and a pumping station installed - enabling Hydro Tasmania to drain the lake up to 6 metres and feed water to the Tarraleah Power Station. The fluctuating water levels have caused erosion and environmental degradation since.[3] The pumphouse was decommissioned in the 1990s, and transformed into a hotel in 2015.[4]

The Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair area was declared a scenic reserve in 1922, a wildlife reserve in 1927, a national park in 1947 and a world heritage area from 1982.


In 1871, the Tasmanian Guidebook mentioned Lake St Clair as being 'admired for its scenery by the few who visit' [5] By 1900 there was a boatshed, accommodation, improved access and horse paddocks at Cynthia Bay, with the first tourists arriving by car in 1915.[3]

From 1911 the beginnings of the Overland Track to Cradle Mountain began to form, with the route officially blazed by Bert Nichols in 1931.[3]

A guesthouse was built at Cynthia Bay in 1930, followed by improved parking, camping and visitor facilities.[2] The lake has been a popular tourist destination, with most tourists visiting to walk, photograph and learn about the history.[6]

Following a decision by the Tasmanian Government to allow development in national parks and conservations areas an 'in principle' permit was granted for the establishment of an 'eco-friendly' resort at Pumphouse Point at Lake St Clair;[7][8] completed in 2015.[9][4]


Summer Afternoon, Lake St Clair panorama

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "Lake St Clair". Parks & Wildlife Service. Government of Tasmania. 29 July 2016.
  • "Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan 2016" (PDF). Department of Primary Industries, Parks,Water and Environment. Hobart: Government of Tasmania. 2016. ISBN 978-0-7246-6806-9.
  • Lake St Clair Fishing Information & Map


  1. ^ "Map of Lake Saint Clair, TAS". Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia. n.d. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b Manwaring, Lynda. "Lake St. Clair, TAS". Aussie Towns.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Byers, Michael Charles (1996). Tourism and bushwalking in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park: Context, characteristics and impacts (PDF) (Masters). The University of Tasmania.
  4. ^ a b "History of Pumphouse Point -". Pumphouse Point | Lake St Clair Tasmania.
  5. ^ "Walch's Tasmanian Guidebook". 1871.
  6. ^ "Cynthia Bay, Lake St Clair: Site Plan 2004". Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania.
  7. ^ "Tasmanian Environmental Law Tangles". Law Report. Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 15 June 2004. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Developer claims time is right for Pumphouse Point project". ABC News. Australia. 4 February 2008. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  9. ^ Hope, Emma (6 July 2017). "Work starts on Pumphouse Point wilderness retreat development". The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania.