Brown Lake, North Stradbroke Island

On picturesque North Stradbroke Island, just outside of Brisbane, Brown Lake promises visitors a unique experience.

Brown Lake Stradbroke Island

The lake itself is a prominent part of the landscape for the people of Quandamooka, particularly the Dandrubin-Gorenpul and Noonucal Aboriginal 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.

Why is the lake brown?

Considered a perched lake (just like many of the other lakes on the selection of sandy islands around Queensland), it retains its water due to 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 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’s thought to be home to a large spirit snake referred to as Yuri Kabool. The spirit snake is said to be able to travel from one lake to the other without any hindrance.

Legend has it that the Quandamooka people warned against visitors swimming in the lake without approval from the elders as the natural pools of water needed to be approached with special acknowledgement beforehand. Elders would sing out before visitors got too close to the waters and made them stand back to wait for a sign that they could approach – usually, this signal came in the form of calm waters.

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 Kaboo, the spirit snake.

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 fresh food. After that, you can explore the native bushlands and the other popular attractions on North Stradbroke Island.

Quandamooka People and the Brown Lake

Quandamooka Festival

The Quandamooka People have lived on the land and seas surrounding North Stradbroke Island, also known as Minjerribah, for at least 25,000 years. They are divided into three distinct tribes: the Nughie of Moorgumpin (Moreton Island), the Nunukul, and the Goenpul.

The area of Redland holds many important ceremonial sites for the Quandamooka people, and in 2011, the Federal Court of Australia recognised their rights to their native land. Alongside the Redland City Council, the Quandamooka people are now continuously working in a way that will benefit both the community and protection of their lands.

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