Lake George (New South Wales)

Coordinates: 35°10′S 149°25′E / 35.167°S 149.417°E / -35.167; 149.417

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Lake George

Part of Lake George in 2020 after it was partially filled by several days of rainLake George is located in New South WalesLake GeorgeLake George


New South Wales


35°10′S 149°25′E / 35.167°S 149.417°E / -35.167; 149.417

Lake type


Primary outflows


Basin countries


Max. length

25 km (16 mi)

Max. width

10 km (6.2 mi)

Average depth

1 metre (3 ft 3 in)

Max. depth

7.5 m (25 ft)

Surface elevation

654 m (2,146 ft)

Lake George (or Weereewa or Ngungara in the Ngunnawal language) is an endorheic lake in south-eastern New South Wales, Australia. It is approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) north-east of Canberra located adjacent to the Federal Highway en route to Goulburn and Sydney. Lake George is also the name of a locality on the western and southern edges of the lake, within the area of the Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council.

Zebra herd at the Floriade event

In 2010, Canberra artists Alan and Julie Aston installed a herd of zebra sculptures on the lake adjacent to the highway stop commemorating Kevin \”Dasher\” Wheatley VC, used as a \”Driver Reviver\” site. They were named Stopper, Reviver, Survivor, and Dasher. They were a sensation, but the Government of New South Wales ordered that they be removed, following a complaint from the leaseholder of the land. They reappeared at Floriade in September 2010, along with a baby, George.


The lake is the setting for several stories of haunting and UFO sightings, and has been the setting for a ghost tour run by Tim The Yowie Man.


The foreshore of what is now known as Lake George mainly lies within the traditional lands of the Gundungarra, but its south-western foreshore is at the extreme east of the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal people. These two peoples spoke a very similar, if not identical, language. The traditional lands of the Ngarigo people probably also extend to the lake\’s southern shoreline, in the area now known as Bungendore. The lake lies not far from the traditional lands of the Walbanga people (a group of the Yuin from the upper Shoalhaven catchment), to the east. Backed artefact manufacturing workshops have been identified at the lake, dating back to the late Holocene. Based on the recurring shapes of the stone artefacts, these workshops have been interpreted as a place where broken composite tools were being rehafted.

The local indigenous people called the lake Werriwa (originally spelled Weereewa in the journals of the explorers who noted the name), which may mean \”bad water\”; even when full, the lake is one of the saltiest bodies of water in inland NSW, almost as saline as seawater. However, the name is also similar to regional indigenous word for eagle, which often fly there. One of the original 75 electoral divisions of the Australian House of Representatives in 1901 was named \”Werriwa\”, the original Aboriginal name of the lake. By 1913, it no longer included the lake, and the electorate is currently centred in the south-western suburbs of Sydney.

The first European to visit the lake was Joseph Wild on 19 August 1820, and it was named for King George III on 28 October 1820 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who was touring the area as part of a Royal Commission inquiring into the condition of the Colony. Land grants on the northern shoreline of the lake had been made to colonial settlers as early as 1824.

Looking east over a dry lake bed
Looking east across Lake George after prolonged rainfall in 2022

A separate body of water—Murray\’s Lagoon—once existed close to the northern end of the lake, adjoining the property, Ajamatong, owned by Terence Aubrey Murray. In the mid 1830s Murray used convict labour to build a 50 m long, stone-lined canal, excavated to up to 4m into the ground, with the aim of connecting the two bodies of water. Unfortunately, the level of the lagoon was slightly higher than the lake, and the canal was a failure. The canal still exists and passes under The Vineyards Road (the old Federal Highway), on private property, continuing as a drainage culvert under the modern-day Federal Highway.

In the 1850s, Murray\’s Lagoon was stocked with Murray cod fished out of the Molonglo River at Murray\’s other property, Yarralumla. At some time, Murray\’s Lagoon overflowed and introduced a translocated population of Murray cod into the lake itself. They bred rapidly and, from the 1850s to the 1890s; Lake George abounded with them. The long Federation Drought commenced in the mid-1890s, and by 1902 the lake had dried out completely. In their search for water to survive in, the Murray cod flocked into the mouths of the few small creeks feeding the lake and died there by the thousands.

Immediately north of the lake, at Currawang, copper ore was mined and smelted at various times, from 1865 to around 1908. For many years, the old mine workings and waste heaps remained exposed and contaminated runoff water was entering Lake George, via a creek that ran through the mining area. After a new lead-silver-zinc ore deposit was identified nearby, in 1973, part of the new work undertaken, from 1987 onward, was to rehabilitate the 19th-century mine workings and stop the contamination of the lake. All mining at Currawang has now ceased.

In 1886, a site was reserved for a village to be known as Murray, on the northern shoreline of the lake, just west of the landform known as Kenny\’s Point. Although the village was surveyed and allotments put up for sale in 1887 and 1910, the village seems not to have developed. Its design was cancelled in 1919. It was located just beyond the end of modern-day Lake George Road. To this day there is no town or village on the lake\’s shoreline.

In the early 1900s, an area immediately to the south-east of the lake and north-north-east of Bungendore, was surveyed as a possible site for the capital city of Australia. The city would have extended from close to the Lake George shoreline to the Bombala railway line. Although it had the advantage of an existing railway connection, the site presented difficulties, particularly in supplying it with sufficient fresh water and the variability of the water level in Lake George. Instead, the Australian Capital Territory and city of Canberra were established some 30 km (19 mi) south-west of the lake.

The selection of Canberra as the national capital brought pressure for a more direct route by road from Sydney, resulting in the construction of the Federal Highway, which opened in December 1930; part of its route follows the western shore of the lake.

During World War II, a wooden \’dummy\’ ship was floated on the lake and used for bombing practice by the Royal Australian Air Force. It is possible that there is still unexploded ordnance settled into the lake bed.

On 8 July 1956 five cadets from the Royal Military College, Duntroon died due to hypothermia in a yachting accident.

Due to the drought in New South Wales, Lake George dried out completely in November 2002, and remained so until February 2010 when it started to refill. The previous time the lake had dried out completely was during a severe drought in the 1940s, although it was partially dry in 1986, leaving large pools of water. When the lake is empty it is used by farmers to graze sheep and cattle. During September 2016, the lake filled for the first time since 1996. In the intervening years the level of water in the lake had never been as high as that in September 2016.

Rain during August 2020 helped to partly fill the lake again after several more years of drought. In December 2021, the Lake was full once again.

The unusual fluctuations in the water level have given rise to fanciful urban myths that the lake is somehow connected to lakes in Peru or South Africa, although NSW government ecologist Justin Nancarrow theorises that the lake may indeed be connected to the nearby Yass River by subterranean aquifers which pass under the surrounding escarpment, and that this connection may explain the salinity of the river.

Wind-power generation

The 140-megawatt (190,000 hp) Capital Wind Farm completed in 2009 is located along the south-eastern side of Lake George.

Capital Wind Farm on the south eastern side of Lake George


Town in New South Wales, Australia

Lake George
New South Wales

Lake George is located in New South WalesLake GeorgeLake GeorgeLocation in New South Wales


35°06′19″S 149°22′17″E / 35.10528°S 149.37139°E / -35.10528; 149.37139


118 (2021 census)




34 km (21 mi) NE of Canberra 59 km (37 mi) SW of Goulburn


Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council


Southern Tablelands




Lake George

State electorate(s)


Federal division(s)

Localities around Lake George:

Lake George

Mount Fairy

Lake George is a locality covering territory on the western and southern edges of the lake, stretching east to the Bombala railway line. The locality is largely within the area of the Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council, although some hillside areas are in the Yass Valley Council. At the 2021 census, it had a population of 118. The locality is generally rural-residential in character along the lake shore. A former grazier\’s homestead at Silver Wattle Point now operates as a religious retreat and Quaker meeting house. Located in the eastern section of the locality close to the town of Bungendore are some industrial facilities, including a sand quarry and an electrical substation serving the Capital Wind Farm.


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