Barefoot Salt Lake Walk – Fossilized Salt Encrusted Insects – 1893 Kalgoorlie Gold Rush Route
These salt lakes are what remain of the ancient river systems. These fill up and even flood during heavy rainfall that occurs every few years. This gives rise to a plethora of life, such as invertebrates and fish, which in turn attract large colonies of waterbirds who breed while food and water resources are plentiful.
Other early accounts describe a road across this lake South of Dumbleyung and was used by Katanning settlers to cart produce to the goldfields in the 1890s. This was the opportunity for local farmers to make a fortune as quickly as the miners. They would load their wagons with flour, sugar, oatmeal, jam and baking flour and when they got to the goldfields actually auction their produce.
Prospectors Pushing Wheel Barrows to the Kalgoorlie Gold Rush of 1893
Western Australian gold rushes
First Dumbleyung Explorer – Henry Maxwell Lefroy
Dumbleyung – Western Australia
Dumbleyung (including Lake Dumbleyung)
Small wheatbelt town with famous lake nearby
Dumbleyung is a small wheatbelt town located 275 km south east of Perth. No one knows exactly how the town got its name but it is likely that it is a corruption of the local Aboriginal word ‘dambeling’ which probably meant ‘large stretch of water’. An alternative theory argues that it may well be derived from ‘dumbung’ which either meant a native pear tree or an Aboriginal game played with bent sticks and a hard piece of fruit.
Although in many ways Dumbleyung is a typical wheatbelt town there is one event in its history which makes it uniquely important and separates it from the dozens of other towns in the area.
On New Years Eve 1964, after a particularly wet winter had seen the lake fill to overflowing, Donald Campbell set the world water speed record when he raced his boat Bluebird across the lake at the remarkable speed of 444.66 km/h (276.3 mph). This made him the fastest man both on land and on water. A unique double.
A memorial to Donald Campbell’s achievements is located on Pussy Cat Hill on the lake shoreline. Offering excellent views over the lake, it is clearly signposted ‘Scenic Drive – Lake Dumbleyung’ on the road from Wagin to Dumbleyung.
Lake Dumbleyung, undoubtedly the area’s great attraction, is the largest natural body of inland water in West Australia. It is approximately 13 km long by 6.5 km wide with a catchment area which extends approximately 64 km north towards Kulin, 64 km south towards Narrangerup and 55 km east to Tarin Rock.
In the years when it overflows the water takes a course through the Wagin Lakes into the Beaufort River, thence the Blackwood and into the sea at Augusta.
The first recorded sighting of the lake was in 1843 when two explorers Henry Landor and Henry Maxwell Lefroy travelled through the area looking for pastoral lands and a large body of water which had been mentioned by the local Aborigines.
Landor and Lefroy described Lake Dumbleyung in their journal entry for 17 January 1843. ‘After riding 10 miles, we came in sight of Dambeling, the largest of the lakes – 13 miles by 7 or 8. It is like the others, shallow with many low islands in varied and beautiful form. On the northern and eastern shores, there is a good grazing country down to the lake, ending in precipitous banks and extending over the hills 2 or 3 miles distant from the lake. The water is salt and the shore long, flat and muddy, on which we saw the impressions of two stray horses and a foal…’
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