Location - Townsville, North Queensland, Australia
Distance - ~5 km return depending on where you turn around
Duration - 1 hour return
Grade - 2
The Ross River Dam was constructed in 1971 initially for flood control and is now a major water supply for the region. This rock and earth-filled embankment dam is located in the upper Ross River and is 8.7 kilometres in length and 35 metres high. The Lake Ross reservoir has a capacity of 250,000 megalitres with a catchment area of 750 square kilometres with a controlled gated spillway. A pumping station supplies the water to the Douglas Water Treatment Plant, where the water undergoes aeration, sedimentation, rapid sand filtration, and chlorination treatment before being pumped to the reservoir where the water is distributed across Townsville. You can find the current water levels on the Townsville City Council website.
Visitors can view the informative signposts, the spillway, and the dam from a viewing platform at Ross Park. At the base of the dam and on the banks of the Ross River is Ross Park, part of Riverway, with facilities for picnics and/or barbecues, as well as public toilets at this location.
There is a gravel track directly next to Lake Ross where you can walk along as far as you like. The embankment has good views over Lake Ross and the surrounding mountains in the background.
Follow the Riverway Drive through Kelso to the end. There are large brown signs with "Lake Ross Dam" on them. Walk up the service road to the top of the dam wall. From the spillway, follow the dam wall along the top as far as you like and turn back. You can also start halfway along the dam wall in the next car parking area which has stairs up the embankment.
It's a good place to walk your dog after work and to watch the sunset over the mountains. Enjoy watching the rock wallabies jumping amongst the rocks and spot some varied birdlife.
Mountain bike trails
The Townsville Rockwheelers held many mountain bike events out the dam with popular races such as Dam Dark and Hot Rock. These mountain bike trails were closed in 2019 due to the 100-year flood. Plans to reopen them are underway.
Camping and Swimming
No camping and no swimming is permitted at Ross Park/Lake Ross.Cover photo from Townsville City Council