At Lake Copeton, the answer is fishing and nobody cares what the question is. If Copeton was a Kamilaroi word, it would no doubt mean “good fishing”. Lake Copeton is famous for its fishing. However, there is a lot more fun to be had and these paddle trails are the perfect place to begin.
11 to 16 kilometres / 3 to 4 hours
Fireball Point Boat Ramp, via Copeton Waters State Park, 3533 Copeton Dam Road, Copeton
GPS: 29°54’42.8″S 150°56’49.5″E / -29.911874, 150.947090
Boat ramp, Copeton Northern Foreshores, 1873 Auburn Vale Rd, Copeton
GPS: 29°53’49.7″S 150°59’47.2″E / -29.897149, 150.996454
Copeton Waters State Park – See black dots on the map
Copeton Northern Foreshores – Second ramp
Lakeshore, Tingha Recreation Area, Howell Road, Howell
On grass or dirt
Open, reservoir, some heavy traffic, shallow areas
Lake Copeton is a manmade reservoir that was created when Copeton Dam was built across the Gwydir River in 1976. When full, it has a surface area of 46 square kilometres. That is a huge amount of space to explore on a kayak, canoe, or stand up paddleboard so deciding where to go can be overwhelming. The two best places to start are Copeton Waters State Park and Copeton Northern Foreshores. There is a small entry fee at both places but the ability to use their excellent facilities is definitely worth a handful of coins. If you don’t want to pay, you can access the Copeton Northern Foreshores paddle trail from the Tingha Recreation Area.
The map shows what Lake Copeton looks like when it is full but It is fair to say that hasn’t always been the case. You will usually find enough room for a paddle but more water invariably leads to better experiences. The photos in this guide were taken when it was at 70%. You can check the current level on the WaterNSW website.
Make sure to review the weather forecast in advance and prepare accordingly. There is no hiding from the elements on Lake Copeton. The sun is burnier, the cold is bitier, and the wind is blowier.
Lake Copeton is home to golden perch, silver perch, redfin, eel-tailed catfish, and gargantuan Murray cod that have been known to grow up to 135 centimetres in length and 45 kilograms in weight. Species PBs are broken here on a regular basis. If you want a piece of the action, don’t forget to apply for a recreational fishing licence and make sure to turbocharge your tackle box for the occasion.
The scenery is superb. Giant boulders are strewn across the landscape. These are made from granite that was formed when magma cooled and crystalised in the earth’s crust over 270 million years ago. There is also a soft fringe of oleander wattle (acacia nerifolia) at the high watermark that looks superb in August when their bright yellow flowers are in bloom.
Eastern grey kangaroos love Lake Copeton and you are sure to see them in the grassy areas between the trees. Emus are here too but they are harder to find.
Copeton Waters State Park has heaps of great places to launch (see black dots on the map). Fireball Point has been nominated as the trailhead because it is the most westerly access point on the southern side of the lake. From there, follow the shoreline to the right. A return paddle to either Banka Bay or the ramp near Sepoy Knob is highly recommended. Although, one-way trips are also possible with a car shuttle. On the return journey, it is fun to mix things up by cutting across the lake from Buiree Point to the trailhead at Fireball Point.
Copeton Northern Foreshores has two places to launch. The one you choose may depend on the water level on the day. From there, paddle south-easterly across Lake Copeton to Tingha Recreation Area. As mentioned earlier, this is an alternative place to launch. When you reach the shoreline, turn left and follow it to the mouth of Auburn Vale Creek (see map). If the lake is reasonably full, paddling into this creek provides a nice change of pace and it is a good spot for a break. From there, follow a west-south-westerly course back to where you began.
Eel-tailed catfish, golden perch, Murray cod, redfin, silver perch
Copeton Waters State Park and Copeton Northern Foreshores
Tatts Hotel, 123 Byron Street, Inverell, (02) 6722 3437
Copeton Waters Holiday Park, 3533 Copeton Dam Road, Copeton, (02) 6723 6269 or
Copeton Northern Foreshores, 1873 Auburn Vale Rd, Copeton, (02) 6723 0250
I’ve gone fishing thousands of times in my life, and I have never once felt unlucky or poorly paid for those hours on the water.William Tapply