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Could Lake George fill for the first time since the 1990s?

Anthony Sharwood, Friday October 23, 2020 - 09:31 EDT

If you’ve ever driven between Sydney and Canberra, you'd know Lake George, which for the record was named after King George III.

Upon sighting the lake 200 years ago this month, NSW Governor Lachlan Macquarie described it as a "a noble expanse of water". But this so-called "lake" is rarely that these days.

More commonly, it's a dry plain about 25 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide, with wind turbines dotting the rolling hills to the east, and a steep escarpment on the western side.

Image: Lake George in August 2020. Source: Nick-D / Wikimedia Commons

Indeed, Lake George hasn't been full since the early 1990s. But there's a chance that could change this summer.

Currently, the lake is estimated to be around 10 percent full. There's currently a clearly visible expanse of water on the eastern side. But consistent falls in the coming La Niña summer could properly fill it for the first time this century.

Lake George is situated approximately halfway between the weather stations at Canberra Airport and Goulburn Airport. It has a very small catchment, which means it relies entirely on heavy local rainfall.

Both Canberra Airport and Goulburn Airport have already exceeded their annual average rainfall this year - and another 20-50 mm could fall at both locations from this weekend into the new week.

For those interested in the numbers, Canberra has picked up 598.2mm so far this year, which is above its annual average of 583.2mm. Goulburn's 565.4mm for the year-to-date easily surpasses its annual average of 534.8mm.

Image: Lake George in bloom after some recent rain. Source: @_your_text_here_ / Instagram

Back in the day, the lake used to fill more regularly. Paddle steamers plied its shallow waters in the late 1800s (which are 7.5m deep at the deepest spot), and there were several guest houses with wharves around the lake's perimeter.

As recently as the 1950s and 1960s, people often sailed and water-skied on the lake.

The lake could be treacherous. Because it's so shallow, strong winds can quickly whip up huge waves. In 1956, tragedy struck when five cadets from the Royal Military College, Duntroon died in a sailing accident.

Canberra-based writer, Lake George researcher and tour guide, Tim the Yowie Man, runs Lake George tours. In recent years, no one's boots have gotten too muddy.He's hoping they may soon get wet, and that he'll be able to conduct tours by boat.

We'll keep you posted if and when the lake fills.

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