The lake and surrounds are protected within the Crater Lakes National Park, which also include Lake Eacham. Like Lake Eacham, Lake Barrine has a walking track around the entire circumference of the lake and includes extensive flora and fauna among the pristine rainforest surrounding the lake.
Lake Barrine was formed over 17,000 years ago when a large volcano erupted, leaving a crater that over time filled up with water to create a lake. The crater or maar was formed as a result of a series of volcanic explosions. These explosions were caused by the hot molten rock coming into contact with groundwater. This caused a build-up of steam, gases, and pressure which blasted the central core from the volcano. This massive explosion left a huge crater, which filled with rainwater to create Lake Barrine. Local Aboriginals called the lake Barany.
Aboriginal stories of the eruption of Lake Barrine describe the forest at the time as ‘open scrub’. A subsequent study of pollen records from the lake’s sediments confirms this view, suggesting the rainforest formed on the tableland only around 7600 years ago.
The largest of the natural volcanic lakes in the area, Lake Barrine is 730 m above sea level. It is about 1 km in diameter, with a shoreline of almost 4.5 km and an average depth of 65 m. No streams or springs feed the crystal clear lake; it is filled only by rainwater. During the wet season a small creek flows out of the lake. It joins Toohey Creek which is a tributary of the Mulgrave River.
Lake Barrine provides a relaxing, tranquil walking experience around the perimeter of the lake for people of all fitness levels. An amazing array of bird life lives within the World Heritage listed rainforest surrounding the lake. Walks include:
An 80 metre stroll to the 1,000 year old giant Twin Kauri Pines. (Wheelchair accessible)
A one and a half hour, 5 km track around the lake, for the seasoned walker. (Excellent for bird watching)
The best known botanical feature of Lake Barrine is the twin Rough Barked Kauri Pines (Agathis Microstachya). These giant forest emergents are estimated to be about 1,000 years old and are considered one of the earliest known species of rainforest tree. Towering above the rainforest canopy, they have achieved a height of 50 metres and a girth 2.2 metres in trunk diameter.
The Bull Kauri species is the largest of all the Kauri’s on record and it is a pine even though it does not have a needle leaf. ‘Kauri Pine’ is the common name derived from the Maori name of the related New Zealand Kauri species (Agathis Australis).
The Amethystine Python (Liasis Amethystinus) is Australia’s largest snake. The largest on record was measured at 8.5 metres or 28 feet. The Scrub or Amethystine Pythons are slow growing. A 4.5 metre (15 ft) python is said to be around 50 years old. During the cooler months the Amethystine Python can often be seen sunbaking on the edge of the lake. They feed on fruit bats, bandicoots, gliders, rats, and birds.
Eastern Water Dragon
The Eastern Water Dragon is the closest thing to a crocodile that the lake has. This small reptile is a pre-jurassic species that has remained relatively unchanged for millions of years. It is a small lizard that can often be spotted sunbaking on logs in the water and around the lakes edge. Rainforest dragons use their colouration and shape to camouflage themselves. The Eastern Water Dragon can hold its breath underwater for 90 minutes.
The Australian Pelican (Pelecanus Consicillatus) is Australia’s largest water bird and will travel large distances to find food and water. While they are known to feed and disappear, they will often return to the same place when it is known to them as a good feeding area. Their huge flesh-coloured bill is used to scoop up food like fish and frogs.
The Saw-Shelled Turtle is a short-necked freshwater turtle. They live in permanent freshwater like Lake Barrine, but occasionally leave the water to sunbake and lay their eggs. They are a mainly carnivorous species with a diet consisting of small fish, frogs, insects, and fallen fruit.
Ducks (Whistling, Pacific Black, White Eye/Hardhead )
From the beginning of the cruise, the boat is accompanied by Ducks. Specifically, the Pacific Black (Anas Superciliosa) and the White Eyed Duck (also known as the Hardhead or Aythya Australis). Both are native to this region and contain themselves to fresh water in order to feed. Although the types of duck at the lake can change throughout the year, the Pacific Black Duck is a year round resident, and the Whistle and Hard Head (White Eye) spend most of the year here.
Musky Rat Kangaroo
The Musky-Rat Kangaroo is the smallest of all kangaroo species, restricted to the north-eastern tropics of Australia. The smallest member of the macropod family, the musky rat-kangaroo Hypsiprymnodon moschatus is not much bigger than a large guinea pig. It can be found on the forest floor as it forages for fruit by day.
The Long-finned Eels (Anguilla Reinhardtii) are mostly carnivorous, feeding on fish that live in the lake. The life cycle of the eel is an amazing process that sees the baby female eels (Elva) climb their way over 700 metres to reach Lake Barrine. When they are approximately 15 years old they make a journey back down the Mulgrave River to oceans near New Caledonia to mate and die, where the cycle starts once again.
The Scrub or Brush Turkey was originally found right along the East Coast (from Sydney North) of Australia, but due to clearing many have disappeared. The Turkeys are one of the family of Megapodes (large footed), and a mound building bird. They scratch up a mound of leaves and lay their eggs amongst them allowing the heat from the composting vegetation to hatch the eggs. The male turkey has a sensitive temperature sensor in his beak with which he tests the temperature of the mound daily and adjusts the depth accordingly to achieve a temperature of 33 degrees Celsius. The chicks are orphans right from when they dig themselves out of the mound. They can run as soon as they leave the nest and within a few days their feathers dry out and flight is possible.