Sensational Saras at Borumba
  |  First Published: December 2002

THIS camping destination is for the real diehards - those folk who want to camp in a forest setting well away from civilisation. There might be some faint noise from ski boats during the day, but at night the only sound is that of bush curlews, possums and owls. Or, as was the case on a recent trip, my mate Allan snoring.

Camping at Borumba Dam is a great ‘back to nature’ experience. The nearest town is Imbil, which has a small general store, café, and pub. That's about it for Imbil, but Gympie’s not all that far away.


Borumba Dam is about 10km from the town of Imbil in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. You can get Imbil via the Bruce Highway. From Gympie, drive south for about 20 minutes until you see the Imbil and Borumba Dam sign posts on the west side of the highway. The turn-off is roughly opposite a turn-off to Pomona to the east.

Don't rush the drive into Imbil. There are a couple of sharp turns, a river crossing (the Mary River), some fairly narrow sections and a detour to the south at the time of writing. This detour takes visitors approaching Imbil from the Nambour side of the Bruce Highway out through the town of Brooloo. The signs are clearly marked and it's only a few extra kilometres.

Visitors driving from Gympie might like to take the road through Kandanga and enter Imbil directly from the north. This is a more direct route and the Kandanga Road crosses the bridge on the outskirts of Imbil and leads right into the town.

Drive carefully on the road to Borumba Dam and the associated camping area. There are several narrow crossings of Yabba Creek, each with a fair sort of dip. Deer and wallabies abound in the area, so keep an eye out.


The camping area is about 500 metres east of the dam wall and has numerous tent sites, used on an honour box system. When you reach the entrance to the camp grounds, just fill out a registration form from the registration stand, put the money in a sealed envelope ($7.50 per camp per night) and then remove the tag from the papers and put it in a conspicuous place at camp.

The camp grounds are very level, quite well grassed and set within forest. Tall native eucalypts, hardwoods and silky oaks abound within the wide creek bed on the north side of camp, with a plantation of pines on the south. The camping area is around 400 metres long and about 100 meters wide, which is enough for plenty of folk to set up camp for the weekend.

The only water suitable for drinking is from the tank next to the amenities block. The rest of the water available comes straight from the dam and is untreated.

Firewood is provided and there are a few small wood-burning barbecues scattered throughout the grounds. Fireplaces seem to be everywhere, as camp fires are popular here. There are excellent hot showers, quite clean toilets in the amenities blocks, and a public telephone.

The camp grounds can be hot during Summer, so it’s good to take a good sort of fly to set up as additional shade.


Borumba has two arms running several kilometres away from the main body of the lake. The lake is the major attraction, but there are also some shaded walking trails near the camping grounds.

Another popular pastime on a hot day is to have a swim in the continuous stream of cold water being discharged from the lake. The outflow area is out of bounds, but there’s a fine causeway with a decent sort of pool on the upper side about 200 metres down the bitumen road bordering the camping grounds.


At the dam it's all go for the angler, provided you have a boat for accessing the top reaches and highly-timbered side arms. The impoundment breaks into two main arms, made from Kingham and Yabba Creeks. Both demand very careful navigation by a shallow draft craft moving at low speed once the channel within the tops of standing trees starts to really tighten up.

Most fishing is carried out virtually 'in the sticks'. With the dam very low, the fish are compressed into the remaining water. It’s still nice and clear and great for sportfishing.

An electric motor is an asset, but it’s not essential. My wife Denise has a 12-foot tinny and I completely forgot the electric motor on our last trip, so I rowed into the standing timber instead. It worked, and we both caught fish.


Saratoga are the big attraction and there’s no shortage of these fish in Borumba Dam. During recent years good stockings of bass have started to bear fruit as well. Occasional catches include silver perch and Mary River cod.

The best methods for catching toga are undoubtedly lures and fly. These fish, with their upward-sloping eyes and mouth, are very willing starters on all manner of lures and most wet flies. During the hot Summer months they also go for surface flies, and the Dahlberg Diver can be is almost irresistible to them.

Borumba's saratoga are fairly predictable. They feed strongly at first light and at dusk, and on a cloudy day you can catch them all through the day. With the dam low it's possible to get out of the boat and, with the midday light coming straight over the shoulder, to do some sight fishing to toga hanging around timber. Flies are the go here, and the more gentle the presentation the better.

It's certainly worth making the effort to get onto the water at first light and travel up the dam into the timber (watch for the herds of red deer feeding along the shores) to where saratoga can be seen rolling and splashing happily until the sun really starting to make its presence felt.

On my most recent trip, the Kampey team stuck with the fly fishing. Dahlberg Divers and size 2 Muddler Minnows worked well when we were surface fishing, Lefty's Deceivers in red and green or plain white scored when we fished deeper on our floating lines. I also caught a couple of bass on fly as well.

We spoke to several folk who were lure fishing, and they said they caught mainly bass on spinnerbaits. Those anglers using hard-bodied lures and soft plastics tangled with both bass and saratoga.

Borumba Dam? A great place for a chance to catch a truly exotic fish.

1) The Borumba Dam experience at it's best. Angler's are fly casting for saratoga jut after daylight on a summer's morning.

2) Saratoga like this fellow are the main attraction at Borumba. Denise caught this fish on a small Lefty's Deceiver.

3) The launching ramp at Borumba Dam is user friendly. Even with the water level low the ramp areas are suitable for most pleasure craft.

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