On picturesque North Stradbroke Island, just outside of Brisbane, Brown Lake promises visitors a unique experience. Considered a perched lake (just like many of the other lakes on the selection of sandy islands around Queensland), it maintains its water levels via a thick layer of leaves lining the lake floor.
This is what gives Brown Lake its name – the tannin from the leaves of the surrounding Paperbarks and Tea-trees turns the water a rich brown colour that has been likened to tea.
The lake itself is a prominent part of the landscape for the people of Quandamooka, particularly the Dandrubin-Gorenpul and Noonucal Aborignal groups. They associate Brown Lake with women and children, where only women are allowed to speak for the natural wonder and are responsible by law to care for and manage the lake and its resources.
The History of Brown Lake
Brown Lake is one of the two largest and most culturally significant lakes on Stradbroke Island (it’s also known as Bummiera, alongside its counterpart, Kaboora). It is thought to be home to a large spirit snake called yuri Kabool, who can travel from one lake to the other without any hindrance.
Legend has it that the Quandamooka people warned visitors who swam in the lakes and, for the locals, the natural pools of water were to be approached with special acknowledgement. Elders would sing out before they got too close to the waters and stood back to wait for a sign that they could approach – usually, this took the form of the waters being calm.
To the local community, this ritual of stopping, singing out, and waiting for a sign became common practice when approaching either of the two largest lakes on Stradbroke Island, including Brown Lake, in order to show respect for yuri Kabool.
Today, the lake is still imbued with a fascinating cultural history that spans generations, but it is also a popular hotspot for visitors looking for the perfect place to picnic or soak up the spectacular scenery that this part of Australia has to offer.
The picturesque backdrop that surrounds the lake lends itself perfectly to a day spent kicking back, relaxing, and enjoying some food. Then you can explore the local area, enjoy the other sights on Stradbroke Island, and learn more about the Aboriginal legends that run deep through the ground on the island.