Lake Tinaroo, Queensland, Australia

Lake Locations:

Australia - Queensland -

Also known as:  Tinaroo Lake, Tinaroo Dam, Tinaroo Falls Dam

Lake Tinaroo, sometimes called Tinaroo Dam, Tinaroo Falls Dam or Tinaroo Lake, is a man-made reservoir located in northeastern Queensland, Australia. Resting on the Atherton Tableland with an average altitude of 2,461 feet (750 meters), Lake Tinaroo offers a dramatic change of scenery and welcome relief from the heat of the coast. Called a tropical mountain lake, Tinaroo is a nature-lovers paradise. Surrounded by the pine forests of Danbulla National Park & State Forest, World Heritage rainforests and Australian scrub or “bush,” the varied scenery creates a perfect holiday destination. While visiting the Atherton Tableland be sure to keep track of your Tinaroos; the name also refers to the lakeside community located on the western shore.

In 1959 Lake Tinaroo was formed by the impoundment of the Barron River running through an elevated plateau called Atherton Tableland. This fertile land was named for John Atherton who settled in the area in 1877. Atherton was attracted by the land’s tin mining potential. It is said that when he made his first discovery he yelled “Tin! Hurroo!” giving the lake, dam and local community the name Tinaroo.

Construction of the Tinaroo Falls Dam took from 1953 to 1958 as part of the Mareeba-Dimbulah Irrigation Project. Owned and managed by SunWater, described as “a Brisbane-based water industry company providing water infrastructure and supply services,” Lake Tinaroo provides irrigation for more than 160 square miles (414 square kilometers) in the Barron, Walsh and Mitchell River valleys. In 2004 SunWater expanded their water supply business by constructing the Tinaroo Hydro Power Station. To better manage flood events, upgrades to Tinaroo Falls Dam spillway capacity were made in 2010.

Approximately 210 square miles (545 square kilometers) of land were flooded as the lake filled in 1959. Boaters on Tinaroo Lake should be aware that during droughts, weed beds and exposed flooded forests can create substantial hazards. During normal rainy seasons, Lake Tinaroo depths can reach 137 feet (41.8 meters) with a shoreline length exceeding 130 miles (209 kilometers). The 8,649-acre (3500 hectares) lake provides excellent opportunities for sailing, boating, windsurfing, water skiing, jet skiing, canoeing and houseboating. Canoes and boats are available for hire at several sites around Tinaroo Dam. Swimming is considered safe in the cool crocodile-free and stinger-free water.

During the 1980s barramundi fingerlings were introduced into Lake Tinaroo. Because barramundi are unable to breed in the lake’s low saline water, Lake Tinaroo continues to be stocked with fingerlings each year. The species thrive in the lake and now weigh in at over 100 pounds. The thrill of reeling in one of these enormous fish makes fishing a major attraction at Lake Tinaroo. Regulations require a “Stocked Impoundment Permit,” tagging of barra caught during closed season, minimum size limit of 23 inches (58 centimeters), and maximum of five barra per person. One of the largest and most popular fishing events in Australia is the annual Barra Bash. With substantial monetary prizes in the offering, the three-day Barra Bash attracts several thousand anglers of all ages and will fill the lake with a couple hundred boats. While barramundi may be the largest fish in Lake Tinaroo Falls Dam, it is far from the only species. Anglers will also enjoy chasing silver perch (introduced in the 1980s), eel-tailed catfish, sooty grunter, bony bream, sleepy cod, mouth almighty, archer fish, spangled perch, long tom and crayfish. Tilapia have thrived since being illegally introduced into the lake. If they are caught, they must be destroyed or sizeable penalties can be assessed.

Breathtaking walking paths wind around Lake Tinaroo’s shoreline and surrounding mountains. Distances and levels of difficulty range from pleasant strolls to week-long treks. A wide variety of vegetation, wildlife and scenery will be found in every direction. From the north end of Tinaroo Dam a hike into Danbulla State Forest takes you to Lake Euramo, a volcanic crater lake and legendary site of the Aboriginal people. Beyond the southern end of the lake near the village of Yungaburra is a trail to the Curtain Fig Tree, an ancient strangler fig whose aerial roots form an enormous “curtain” as it grows from one tree to the next. To the east and southeast of Tinaroo Lake walkers will find two divided sections of Crater Lakes National Park. The northern section takes you to Lake Barrine and trees estimated to be 1,000 years old. The southern section takes hikers to Lake Eacham, a favorite location for swimming, canoeing and birdwatching.

The north and northeastern shore of Tinaroo Dam is bounded by Danbulla National Park and State Forest. A Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, the park’s 3,475 square miles (9,000 square kilometers) include rainforests, eucalypt forests, pine forests, wetlands and mangrove forests. Walk the depths of the park or camp in one of the park’s campgrounds, and you may encounter one of many rare or endangered wildlife species: the tiny sugar glider that soars from tree to tree; short-beaked echidna, also known as the spiny anteater; red-legged pademelon looking like a small brown wallaby; northern bettong, a member of the kangaroo family; Boyd’s forest dragon, a near extinct reptile; and Australia’s largest snake, the amethystine python.

Over 200 species of birds are attracted to Lake Tinaroo, its tributaries, and marshes found in Danbulla National Park. Frequently seen along the lake shores are whiskered tern, little curlew, marsh sandpiper, ringed plover, southern boobook, barking owl, rufous owl, barn owl and lesser sooty owl. Birds encountered within the park include the comb-crested jacana, black-faced cuckoo-shrike, Lewin’s honeyeater, grey fantail, purple swamphen, white-bellied sea-eagle and spotted catbird.

Resorts and retreats dot the shore of Lake Tinaroo, but the number of towns and villages is limited. The historic village of Yungaburra sits at the southern end of Lake Tinaroo, just over an hour’s drive southwest of the coastal city of Cairns. With a population of approximately 1,000, Yungaburra is the largest National Trust village in Queensland. Through the preservation of 18 heritage sites, the community provides a fascinating glimpse into Queenland’s architectural history. The local economy is based on tourism, and one of the favorite attractions is the Yungaburra markets. Held the fourth Saturday of every month, visitors can savor locally grown produce and shop the colorful selection of locally produced arts, crafts and clothing. Around the end of October the two-day Yungaburra Folk Festival entertains visitors with music performed by national and international folk musicians.

The small community of Tinaroo is becoming a popular holiday destination. With convenient access to Tinaroo Lake, fishing, swimming, sailing, hiking, mountain biking and birdwatching, there is a growing demand for lakefront properties. Increasing development in both Tinaroo and Yungaburra makes it easy to find holiday accommodations in the form of self-catering holiday cottages, holiday homes, bed & breakfasts (B&Bs), hotels and resorts along the shore of Lake Tinaroo. Less than an hour from Cairns and the magnificent Great Barrier Reef, visitors can enjoy the cool mountain air found in the Atherton Tableland. Come for the forests, water sports or nature’s wonders, the choices are endless and waiting for you.

Things to do at Lake Tinaroo

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Forest
  • National Park

Fish species found at Lake Tinaroo

  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Tilapia

Lake Tinaroo Photo Gallery

Lake Tinaroo Statistics & Helpful Links

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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