The area can seem bare when seen from low down next to the water, and this is one location that looks at its best early morning or late afternoon. There is very beautiful hoop pine forest and dry vine scrub that clothes the steep hills that hug the western edge of the dam. The eastern shores have a distant backdrop of blue ranges.
There are two access points to the water. The Spit is a couple of kilometres up from the dam wall which is clearly visible downstream. This is a day use area with a vehicle gate that is unlocked 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. This location is closeup under the steep forested hills. Do not paddle too close to the dam wall. Notice in the photograph above the line of buoys that close off water access to the dam wall. There is no camping permitted near the foreshores of the dam. The two areas where camping is permitted are below the dam wall at Somerset Park camping area, and Lake Somerset Holiday Park (formerly known as Kirkleigh). Half way along the road between the two is Shiels Lookout.
Lake Somerset Holiday Park is a camping area above the north western shore of the dam. If you are planning an early or late paddle on the water, and don't fancy driving far beforehand, then perhaps a overnight stay might suit. Bookings are recommended (particularly for weekend stays and during peak periods), as access to the park is by a coded security gate. Office hours are 7.30 am to 7.30 pm, and if unattended during these hours, there is an intercom at the entrance which you can use to contact the Park Manager. You can also phone the park toll free 1800 689 679 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations and enquiries. Day use access is free but you still need to register your vehicle for entry to the park.
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