Burrill Lake

When you just can’t decide whether your perfect paddling environment features the translucent turquoise shallows of a sandy seaside estuary or the tranquil depths and forested slopes of a drowned river valley, you need a place that has the best of both worlds. That place is beautiful Burrill Lake.

WATERWAY Burrill Lake
REGION South Coast, NSW
DISTANCE Up to 15 kilometres
TIME Up to 3 hours
START Boat ramp, Maria Avenue, Burrill Lake
GPS DMS: 35° 23′ 10.7″ S, 150° 26′ 42.4″ E
DD: -35.386306, 150.445111
FINISH Return to start
PARKING Small parking area
TOILET None, nearest to start are on McDonald Parade in Burrill Lake
CONDITIONS Open areas, tidal, some heavy traffic, shallow areas
FISHING Blackfish, bream, flathead, whiting

Burrill Lake Map

This paddle starts in the radiant coastal reaches of Burrill Lake. There is a boat ramp at Maria Avenue on the western side of the water and another at Kendall Crescent on the opposite shore. The route shown on the map begins at Maria Avenue because it is closer to the coast and there is more parking.

Burrill Lake Photo 1

Burrill Lake is usually tidal but the ocean entrance can close occasionally and that negates any tidal effect. Unless you know the status of the entrance, the best time to start is around an hour and a half before high tide. Tide times for nearby Ulladulla Harbour are published on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

The stunning colour of the water near the start can be incredibly mesmerising, particularly when the sun is shining, but try not to fall under its hypnotic spell because you could easily drift away and get marooned on a sandbar. Instead, weave a path through the swans and the pelicans to the marked channel and then follow it to the left to go upstream.

The final channel marker is the place where you enter the central basin of Burrill Lake. The water is noticeably deeper and the landscape is significantly steeper. Look directly ahead (north) and you will see Kings Point reaching out into the lake from the shoreline on the right. Paddle up to that and then veer left to cross to the opposite side of the lake.

You will be able to see Burrill Lake’s northern basin to your right as you make your way across. That area is covered by the Global Paddler guide for Stony Creek and it is well worth exploring when you have the time. Some finely tuned athletes like to paddle both areas back-to-back on a single day.

If you turn left when you reach the western shore and then keep it close to your right-hand side, you will eventually find yourself back at the channel markers you saw earlier in the day. From there you should have no trouble getting back to where you started, but there’s a lot more to take in before then.

Much of the land to the west and south of the lake is swathed in gorgeous Meroo National Park greenery. Coastal blackbutt and banksia trees adorn the slopes while swamp oaks and saltmarsh decorate the flatter areas.

The underlying landscape of the Meroo National Park is primarily sandstone. This makes an appearance in the shape of attention-grabbing waterside cliffs in the western arm of the central basin (see map). History buffs will be excited to learn that a sandstone rockshelter found close to the southern end of the lake contains evidence of Aboriginal people living in this area more than 20,000 years ago. This is not at the water’s edge but it is accessible on foot if you want to take a closer look later on.

The western headland dividing the central and southern basins of Burrill Lake is known as Dancing Point. This is not because the little black cormorants have taken to performing wonderfully synchronised ballet routines in the water as they search for their next meal. The name was given to it by early settlers who observed Aboriginal people dancing on the point during their social celebrations. Burrill Lake does that to people. Don’t be surprised if you feel like shaking a tail feather on one of its many beaches before the day is out.

Burrill Lake Photo 2

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.” Martha Graham

EAT The Treehouse Café, 4 Boree Street, Ulladulla, (02) 4455 3991
DRINK Marlin Hotel, 110 Princes Highway, Ulladulla, (02) 4455 1999
SLEEP Bungalow Park, 123 Princes Highway, Burrill Lake, (02) 4455 1621