After being in the city for a while, we love to return to the bush, and many Gold Coasters may be looking for a pleasant day out in a natural enviornment — like what we found at Clarrie Hall Dam just south of Murwillumbah. Earlier this year, the dam’s public facilities were reopened after upgrades, and although access to the water is restricted, the surrounding park welcomes day-visitors year-round.

Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
Clarrie Hall Dam is set in a beautiful location, just 15 km from Murwillumbah, which makes it a great day-trip from the Gold Coast.

Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
A lower parking area offers visitors new — if somewhat soggy — picnic facilities. The lawn here is poorly drained, and after rain, puddles collect around the picnic tables.

Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
A second, lower picnic area is accessible by car, and it has steps that lead to the creek below.

Rooster at Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
An extremely healthy rooster struts around the picnic grounds. We frequently see small flocks of roosters at picnic areas in rural parts. I suspect they come from backyard chook-owners who want to cull the number of their roosters without actually executing them.

Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
The spillway wall is dry when we visit today. All this section of the dam is fenced off, so we can only observe the infrastructure from a distance.

Although the girls could hear the sound of running water as soon as we parked, when they chased the sound they were disappointed by the lack of an impressive waterfall. We had a terrific time playing at the No. 7 dam outside Mount Morgan in Queensland several years ago, and I think the girls expected a similar experience here.

Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
This small allowance keeps Doon Doon Creek flowing into the Tweed River, preserving the life and health of the waterway.

Indigenous story at Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
Throughout the park, signs tell the stories of the the Bundjalung People who maintain a connection to this area. Before the dam was filled, a survey was made of the area to identify areas of Indigenous cultural significance, and several artifacts were retrieved before they could be flooded.

Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
From the main toilet block, a formed path leads from the picnic areas and lower parking lots to the upper viewing area and lake access.

Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
Adjacent to the lake, a small parking lot allows room for vehicles bring watercraft down the boat ramp. Because it's a water supply, the lake's permitted recreational activities are limited to vessels without engines.

Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
The top water level of the dam rests at 61.5 metres, still 7 metres below the embankment level.

Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
A concrete tower houses the intake for the Tweed Shire Council's water supply. The dam is named after an Australian rules footballer who played in the VFL between 1912 and 1922.

Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah, Northern NSW, August 2014
So this dam is a water supply for the city of Tweed, and it's not safe enough for contact with humans and animals?

The Council may actually be providing updates on the actual algae alerts on this page, but when we visited the webpage’s last update was recorded in April, which may mean that current algae levels are safe … or not.

Delaney walking on a bush track, August 2014
The walking tracks around Clarrie Hall Dam are fun to explore with the family — although we carried our own (pristine) water for refreshment!

It’s easy to find Clarrie Hall Dam in northern NSW. The road is fully paved and accessible year-round, and the council maintains extra facilities at Crams Farm nearby which can be booked for functions.