One of my favourite places in the world is Booloumba Creek west of Kenilworth in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. It has tall trees dripping with staghorns, gently running creeks, swimming holes, bush walking paths and bellbirds dinging in the background.
Since settling in Brisbane, I have also missed having a good place to swim, other than a chlorinated pool.
And now the reservoir gods have delivered me a little bit of both, all within a 15-minute drive of the CBD.
Oh, happy day. I can’t believe it has taken me seven years to stumble upon it as there doesn’t seem to be anything “well-kept secret” about it.
I came close once when I wandered the banks of Enoggera Creek at The Gap, but had never quite managed to find the source – until now.
Nevertheless, even though it was a hot January day at the height of the summer school holidays, it could hardly be described as overcrowded.
So the journey begins along Waterworks Road from the city. Straight ahead all the way. After about 12km, there is a turnoff on the left to the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre.
Parking is plentiful, and signs point to a track which leads about 100m (maybe more, but it’s hardly a taxing hike) through the bush to the still waters of the Enoggera Reservoir.
A grassy slope is perfect for a picnic blanket and then it’s only a few steps to the water.
There’s a marked swimming area and an adjacent channel for launching kayaks which are available for hire.
Duck under the buoys and swim beyond the designated area and you have your own private pool away from the crowds.
Despite my reservations, the bottom wasn’t muddy and mean underfoot, and there were no reeds grabbing at face and legs.
There was a sign though warning to stay away from the lilypads where a cranky catfish nests.
The water was clear, fresh, cool and beautiful. Wading out, it was only metres before it was already impossible to touch bottom.
Lolling on one of the barrier pontoons in the deep water with the bellbirds making their distinctive dings in the background, it seemed a million miles from the city.
In the distance was the old dam wall which gives this little piece of paradise its name.
With Brisbane struggling to find a regular water supply, the Enoggera Dam was built in 1866. It was the first major dam for Queensland and only the second major dam in Australia and is now one of Queensland’s few remaining examples of a functioning reservoir from this time.
Brisbane Municipal Council, which had come into being only six years earlier in 1860, formed a water supply committee.
It had the tricky job of coming up with something a bit more useful for the growing city than a small, grubby reservoir at the intersection of George, Roma and Turbot streets where the Law Courts now stand.
In 1863, it was decided to dam Enoggera Creek, or Breakfast Creek as it was known at the time, which had a large catchment in the D’Aguilar Range. Water would gravity-feed into a city reticulation system.
it was an ambitious project as it would provide water for a year for 200,000 people – five times more than the population of the day.
(The previously visited Spring Hill reservoirson top of Wickham Tce are also part of this story)
Construction began in 1864, and water was flowing by July 1866.
Enoggera Reservoir stored the city’s water until 1916, and as it is no longer the drinking water supply, it is a perfect recreation area. No motorised craft are permitted which guarantees its peace and tranquility – and the song of the bellbirds.
Between swims, there are pleasant walks in the bush around the water’s edge. The Araucaria track is a 5km loop and has regular resting points.
Lilypads cluster at one end and the old dam wall looms in the background at the other.
There are buses from the city to near Mt Nebo Rd and then it’s about a 1km walk.
There’s no admission to the swimming area and bushwalks, but if you want a wildlife experience at the Discovery Centre, there’s a fee there.