Sensational South Burnett
  |  First Published: December 2011



The South Burnett region is Queensland's largest wine region and, more importantly for anglers, home to two of Queensland's biggest inland waterways: Lake Boondooma and the Bjelke-Petersen (BP) Dam. But the South Burnett region also offers visitors a plethora of other hidden wonders.

Within easy driving distance from either the Sunshine Coast or Brisbane, the South Burnett is as diverse as it is interesting, so let’s go and check out the South Burnett region and make a date to visit.

Fishing

Fishing in the South Burnett is centred around its two main waterways, BP Dam and Lake Boondooma. But there is also the little known and recently reopened Gordonbrook Dam to consider along with some of the majestic rivers that produce all sorts of fishy encounters.

Anglers of all persuasions can find their needs fulfilled in the South Burnett. Fly fishers love chasing bass, lure fishers are keen to catch just about anything and if the more sedate baitfishing is your desire, then the South Burnett will see you filling your bag out with some of the best freshwater fish going.

For those new to the area there is plenty of help. The general stores at BP and Boondooma have tackle specifically to target the lake’s fish, while the various tackle stores throughout the region are run by keen anglers who really know what’s going on and what is going to work, so drop in and find out what’s biting where.

BP is best practice

Bjelke-Petersen Dam, or Lake Barambah as the actual waterway is known, is located southeast of Murgon and offers an amazing fishing and camping experience on its 2,150 hectares of water surface. Yallakool Park on BP is the hub of all the activities (), however there is a day visitor area near the dam wall that provides access to the lake with a concrete boat ramp, barbeque and picnic areas along with toilets.

Most though spend a day or two and Yallakool is the place to stay as it has everything you could want along with its own boat ramp.

Bjelke-Petersen has been stocked with golden and silver perch, saratoga and Australian bass, but of these it is the goldens and bass that draw most anglers to the lake. There are also self-sustaining populations of eel-tailed catfish, spangled perch, sleepy cod and redclaw crayfish. A Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) is required to fish BP Dam as it is part of the scheme that sees amazing fishing opportunities presented to anglers via the allocation of funds to buy fingerlings for the waterways on the scheme. You can buy a SIP at Yallakool on BP or from the Queensland Government website (www.smartservice.qld.gov.au/services/permits/fishing/apply).

The single most effective method of catching fish in BP is with live shrimp. These can be collected on site in the many weed beds or bought at Yallakool or the many tackle stores on the way to the lake. If fishing from a boat simply rig shrimp on a fixed sinker rig and drop it over the side of the boat to the bottom. Then wind it up two handle winds of the reel and leave the rod in the rod holder and let the fish hook themselves.

From the shore, shrimp are still fantastic but a running sinker rig is the preferred rig. For all your bait fishing a circle-style hook is the best as you can set the rod and almost forget about it. Circle hooks usually hook fish in the corner of the mouth under the tension of the rod so there is no need to strike. Better still, the corner of the mouth hooking from circle hooks allows fish to be released easily in the best possible condition if they are unwanted.

If lure fishing is your game then the options are almost endless. Many anglers troll diving minnow lures, heavy spinnerbaits and even lipless crankbaits around drop-offs and rocky points. This will account for bass and golden perch. Other anglers prefer to cast and retrieve their lures and this opens up soft plastics, flies, spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and more. When lure fishing from a boat it’s best to have a sounder on board that can locate prominent drop-off or schools of fish, whether you are trolling or casting.

Both bass and golden perch are aggressive feeders and if you work hard in the right spots, fish will come your way, even on the worst days.

Boondooma always performs

Lake Boondooma is found to the northwest of Proston and has fantastic facilities that will make the hardened camper or the family traveller wanting a little luxury comfortable. This 1,950 hectare lake offers a variety of habitats and holds back the Boyne River to supply water for the Tawong Power Station and water for irrigation purposes.

Lake Boondooma is very similar to BP in the species that can be found in its waters. Annually stocked with Australian bass and golden perch, Boondooma has also received Mary River and Murray cod, silver perch and saratoga. There is also a self sustaining population of eel-tailed catfish, spangled perch and the omnipresent bony bream.

Most anglers go to Boondooma for two reasons: to catch Australian bass or to catch golden perch. Luckily both are abundant and usually easy to come across.

Baitfishers enjoy the challenge of tangling with bass on live shrimp and goldens on big fat worms, with both baits consistently being harassed by the large population of catfish. From the shore a running sinker rig is preferred and from a boat anglers can fish the fixed sinker rig to great effect. By concentrating on the drowned timers and rocky points and banks, anglers baitfishing are almost guaranteed some exciting action.

Lure fishers have an absolute ball at Boondooma. Most chase the bass, however a growing number of keen anglers target golden perch. Luckily both species will take the same lures, you just need to fish them a little differently and also in slightly different locations.

For the goldens most angles concentrate on the hard rocky banks that shelve steeply into deep water. In contrast the bass anglers find bass over sunken hills and in amongst the drowned timbers at various times of the year. Bass and to a lesser extent goldens can also be found roaming newly flooded margins searching for all sorts of insects, bugs and worms to gorge on and if you find this situation you can be in for some exciting fishing.

Trolling is also a favourite pastime for anglers visiting Boondooma with deep diving hardbodies the most favoured lures. Simply throw the lures out 20m behind the boat, slip it into idle and slowly troll the lures around the steep rocky walls, old river course or sunken hill tops for some fantastic fishing. Lures that dive between 3m and 5m are the choice and colours can vary from the most lifelike natural schemes to the most outlandish and vivid schemes you can imagine.

Boondooma in 2011 has fished wonderfully well and is well worth a visit whenever bass or goldens are on your mind.

Gordonbrook is back

In an exciting development, Gordonbrook Dam has come back on line and it has been added to the SIP scheme that will now ensure this electric only waterway is filled with fish for anglers to catch.

Located just out of Kingaroy, Gordonbrook will have some residual bass and golden perch, however the lake has not been stocked since 2004 when roughly 21,000 bass were released into its waters. A fairly shallow and weedy waterway, Gordonbrook was heavily flooded in the great rains of 2010/11 and the Boondooma Dam Fish Stocking and Management Association is looking forward to re-establishing this lake as a fishery for electric powered craft.

Most of the locals we spoke to are excited too and suggest that anglers familiarise themselves where Gordonbrook is as in a few years time, this beautiful waterway will provide some great fishing action.

In the mean time, the gardens and recreation areas are worth a visit, even if just to sit on the banks and watch the water and birdlife. There’s even a bird hide or two for those interested, plus some really good informational boards detailing why Gordonbrook was built and how it came to be the lake it is today.

Where to Stay
Yallakool Park on BP

With more than 55,000 visitors a year, it’s no wonder that Yallakool Park on BP Dam is an excellent choice for any holiday, or short breakaway.

Situated on the banks of the Bjelke-Petersen Dam, amidst the raw Australian bushland, this award winning choice of accommodation is a winner for all. With its rolling views, spectacular walkways and characteristic charms you are bound to fall under the spell of this increasingly popular holiday destination.

Yallakool Park on BP Dam offers a variety of accommodation from self-contained cabins to powered and un-powered camping sites. Each cabin is complete with balcony, ceiling fan, complete cooking facilities, cutlery and crockery, TV and ironing board.

For the more adventurous who wish to camp, the camp site offer a fantastic camp kitchen with all mod cons, BBQ facilities, toilet, shower and laundry facilities. Also on site is a pool, boat ramp, shop and full size tennis court.

While residing at the caravan park, you can avail yourself of all activities. They offer everything from fishing, boating, sailing water skiing and canoeing to tennis, swimming, bush walking and bird watching.

The camp sites ideal location means that you are within kilometres of other local amenities and activities such as a bowling club, hospital, bus stop, restaurants, shops, pubs and a visitor information centre. While visiting the area don't forget to visit the local wineries where you may sample the local delights. Please note: booking is sometimes essential with certain wineries so please check this in advance.

On our most recent trip we stayed in the basic cabin, which can sleep five, with a double bed and three bunks. The cabin has an air conditioner, stove, oven, basic kitchen, toilet, shower and TV. For a group of anglers or a family of four, these cabins are ideal. You can prepare all your meals, get a good night’s rest and still be close enough to the playground, pool and communal camp kitchen to feel part of the atmosphere.

In the cabins you have to bring your own linens, but it’s nice to have the comfort of home when you’re away, especially for the kids as I know my 5-year-old loves her own doona and pillows! And Shayne and Greg love their teddies too, so it’s works well even for the big kids to bring their own sleeping linen.

What I do like about Yallakool Park on BP is that the new managers are keen to embrace the whole experience. If you visit, make sure you find out what special events are going to be on during the week as you might be surprised to find scone and tea afternoons, camp cooking feeds and more in the camp kitchen area. These get togethers make it easy to get to know the other campers and visitors and enjoy your time more.

Check-in time is from 1pm and check-out time is 10am. The reception is open from 7am to 6pm daily and the friendly staff are very knowledgeable with the local area, activities, tours and more. In fact they’ll be able to point you in the right direction for any fishing opportunities and even make sure you’re kitted out with the right bait or lures.

Yallakool Park on BP Dam can be contacted on( or visit the website at www.yallakoolpark.com.au for more information on this great getaway destination in the South Burnett.

Lake Boondooma

Lake Boondooma is a fishing paradise, located on the Boyne River a little more than 15km from Proston.

Boondooma Dam, built across the Boyne River in the early 1980s to supply water for Tarong Power Station, has quickly become one of the most popular recreational fishing spots in South East Queensland.

Boondooma Dam boasts an ultra-modern $900,000 camping ground with self-contained cabins and caravan park facilities was officially opened on the foreshores of Lake Boondooma on December 8, 2001.

There are four options for those who want to stay at Boondooma and these include the bunkhouse, self-contained cabins, terrace powered sites or unpowered sites.

The Bunkhouse Complex has eight rooms comprising six Bunkhouse Rooms that each sleep up to four people in two sets of bunks, plus one room that sleeps two in one set of bunks. The Bunkhouse Family Room is an additional room that sleeps up to six people in a queen-sized bed and two sets of bunks. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities, communal kitchen and dining area make this a great place for visitors to stay.

There are also five self-contained cabins with queen-sized beds, modern kitchens with hot plate and microwave oven, ensuites, colour TV and verandas overlooking the camping grounds and lake foreshores. Each cabin can sleep up to five people. Cabins are not supplied with linen and you may bring your own or hire from the kiosk.

The terrace powered sites are grassed areas for camping or caravans. Camp fires are allowed on the outer sites only. All sites have water views and are close to amenities with all the advantages of power.

Grassed, unpowered camp sites are located near the three large modern amenity blocks throughout the park. Campers also have access to the camp kitchen and generators are allowed from 7am to 9pm. Camp fires allowed on outer sites only and there is plenty of room for all.

If you are looking for a relaxing weekend or even longer, Lake Boondooma is just the stress relief you have been looking for. Bring the caravan, tent or treat yourself to a comfortable cabin, launch your boat on stable maintained boat ramps and prepare for fishing excellence.

For further information please contact the Managers Peter Murray and Erin Hawkins on 07 4168 9694 or email --e-mail address hidden--

Other activities

The South Burnett is the home of Australia's peanut and navy bean industries. It's also Queensland's largest wine producing area and has some of the best inland waterways in the state. Not surprisingly, there's lots to see and do - and something for every interest.

The principal types of attractions you can see on your visit include wineries and cellar doors, tours of all descriptions, arts and crafts, antiques, museums, parks and gardens that will surprise and all the modern entertainment you would expect in a diverse and growing region.

In addition the South Burnett has more than a dozen major public festivals each year along with hundreds of smaller events.

Their festivals encompass wine and food, the arts, horse riding and horse racing, gardening, fishing, even pumpkins and peanuts and routinely draw visitors from all over southeast Queensland.

The South Burnett is essentially a family region so most of the public activities are oriented around families too. In a nutshell this means major events are inexpensive to attend and nearly always have some entertainment and/or activities for children as well as adults.

You can find out more details about any of our major annual festivals on our South Burnett Tourism’s website where they have a Major Annual Events page. Many South Burnett's festivals now have their own web pages and some also have their own full-blown web sites.

Two places worth of a special mention are the Kingaroy Kitchen Biscuit and Fine Foods and the Peanut Van, two icons for visitors.

The Kingaroy Kitchens is a real surprise with some of the tastiest biscuits, spreads and condiments you could imagine, all prepared on site by workers for the Endeavour Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing support and employment opportunities for people with a disability. Their foods are absolutely of the ‘just one-more’ variety and you can even take a factory tour and check out how everything is made. Worth the visit but make sure you bring some cash as you will not be able to resist.

The Peanut Van is a Queensland icon and what better one to visit than the one based in the peanut capital of Queensland, Kingaroy. The variety of peanuts is staggering and all of them are amazing. I especially liked the smoked peanuts, but there are spicy peanuts, salty peanuts, savoury peanuts and more. Again, make sure you have some cash with you as resistance is useless.

As a taste of what’s also available, visitors can access the many wineries in the region – some that are prize winners and offer accommodation as well. Anglers can fish for the big ones at the Boondooma Dam Yellowbelly Competition or visit one of the many regional shows or festivals. There are peanut festivals, race days, rodeos and art festivals - the options are almost endless making the South Burnett a real hub of social activity.

More Information

The best place to get more information on the wonderful South Burnett region is from the Visitor Information Centres (VIC) dotted throughout the area. There are VICs found in Kingaroy, Murgon, Wondai, Blackbutt and Nanango and they have a wealth of information on the surrounds, the wine trail, the tourist highlights and more. Plus they are staffed by locals who know what’s what and where is where so they will steer you in the right direction.

Alternatively you can log onto the South Burnett Regional Council website at www.southburnett.qld.gov.au or the South Burnett Tourism website at www.tourism.southburnett.com.au. Both sites offer an overview of what to expect and what may interest you other than the fishing – assuming there are other things than the fishing that is!

Facts

Fish Stocking

Lake Boondooma

YearsSpeciesNumber
2005-2011Golden perch701,200
Australian bass530,000
Silver perch81,000

Lake Barambah (Bjelke-Petersen Dam)

YearSpeciesNumber
2005-2011Golden perch755,000
Australian bass461,000
Silver perch66,360
Saratoga200

Gordonbrook Dam

YearSpeciesNumber
2001-2004*Australian bass51,140
Golden perch11,650
Silver perch10,000

*Gordonbrook Dam has just been accepted onto the SIP scheme and stocking will commence again in 2012 under the guidance of the Boondooma Dam Fish Stocking and Management Association

Tackle Stores

Bass 2 Barra Marine

10/119 Youngman Street

Kingaroy 4610

(07) 4162 7555

Yallakool on BP general store

Bjelke-Petersen Dam

Murgon-Barambah Rd

Murgon 4605

(07) 4168 4746

Boondooma Dam Caravan and Recreation Park kiosk

Boondooma Dam

Boondooma Dam Rd

Proston 4613

(07) 4168 9694

The Tacklebox Murgon

89 Lamb St, Murgon 4605

(07) 41681002

Visitor Information Centre Details

Wondai

80 Haly Street, Wondai 4606

--e-mail address hidden--

Phone: 07 4168 5652

Kingaroy

(Kingaroy Information Art and Heritage Precinct)

128 Haly Street

--e-mail address hidden--

Phone: 07 4189 9172

Murgon

Lamb Street

--e-mail address hidden--

Phone: 07 4168 3864

Nanango

South Burnett Energy Centre, Henry Street

--e-mail address hidden--

Phone: 07 4189 9446

Blackbutt

Les Muller Park, D'Aguilar Highway

--e-mail address hidden--

Phone: 07 4163 0633

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