Lake Clifton is in the Peel region of Western Australia, between Mandurah and Bunbury in the Yalgorup National Park. It is most famous for its Thrombolites, which can be viewed from a wooden boardwalk lookout.
Noorook Yalgorap is the Nyoongar name for Lake Clifton, who are the traditional owners of this land.
The name changed to Lake Clifton in 1840 after Mr. Marshall Waller Clifton, who was the Chief Commissioner of the settlement of Australind at the time.
How to get to Lake Clifton
If coming from Perth, the quickest route is along Forrest Highway, turning off at Lake Clifton Road and then right into Southern Estuary Road. Allow 1 hour 15 minutes by car.
Lake Clifton is 30 minutes along the Old Coast Road from Mandurah. Turn left onto Southern Estuary Road.
Lake Clifton Thrombolites
Thrombolites are living, breathing rock-like structures built by micro-organisms and represent one of the earliest life forms, dating back approximately 570 million years. Scientists believe that microbes in Thrombolite formations are responsible for the first oxygen production, which allowed life to exist on earth.
The ones at Lake Clifton are thought to be around two thousand years old and the largest’ lake bound’ thrombolite reef in the southern hemisphere at 15km in length. Unfortunately, they are mainly extinct now, but Lake Clifton is one of the few remaining places in the world to see them.
When the microbes photosynthesize, they release calcium carbonate (limestone), which creates round-shaped Thrombolites. It is thought that Lake Clifton is high in calcium carbonate, which enables them to form here.
The observation boardwalk allows you to view the fragile thrombolites without damaging them, so please do not deviate from the walkway. In December 2009, the Thrombolites were listed as critically endangered under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
It is best to visit Lake Clifton in the summer when the water is calm, the skies clear, and a low water level.
The stromatolites of Shark Bay are a major tourist attraction in the north west region, but Lake Clifton is more accessible from Perth. I’ve been to both and think that these at Lake Clifton are easier to view and are better examples of these ancient life forms.
Facilities at Lake Clifton include picnic tables, toilets, and an information shelter. No swimming or fishing is permitted at Lake Clifton. The salt marshes close to Lake Clifton provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Try to avoid visiting at dawn or dusk and wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs and apply insect repellent containing DEET.
Lake Clifton is free to enter.
A sign on the site reminds us to think carefully about using fertiliser in our gardens as the run off can affect the survival of plants and animals living in the wetlands.
Lakeside Loop Walktrail
The Lakeside Loop is an easy 5km loop walk beside Lake Clifton and is suitable for most ages and fitness levels. The trail takes you by the edge of the lake before looping back via a higher vantage point. Along the walk, you will see the Tuart and Peppermint trees and plenty of wildflowers in spring. Interpretive boards provide information on the fauna and flora around here.
Lake Clifton is a great place for a spot of stargazing. There’s not much light pollution, so the stars stand out, and on moonless nights, you may be treated to a view of the Milky Way.
Lake Clifton Brewery
The Lake Clifton Brewery is Cape Bouvard, which has a selection of wines, boutique beers, and food.
We really enjoyed The Old Coast Brewery located on West Break Road in Myalup, half an hour south of Lake Clifton. You can choose to sit inside, on the outdoor decking, or in the undercover beer garden that overlooks the kid’s playground. There’s a large grassed area for the kids to play as well. The food is delicious, with a large range of craft beers to suit all tastes.
Lake Clifton Winery
We haven’t visited Lake Clifton Winery so I can’t recommend it. However, Vineyard 28 is a bit further on in Yarloop. They offer a grazing and tasting experience with a delicious grazing board and tastings of their great wines. Their Cellar Door is open 10 am to 5 pm Thursday to Monday, and they are dog-friendly.
Lake Clifton Tavern and Motel
I would like to respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners, and First People of these lands. I would like to pay my respect to the Elders past, present, and future, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture, and hopes of their people.
The Aboriginal Story of the Formation of Lake Clifton
In the nytting (beginning), the Aboriginal people who lived here had no fresh water and the land was dry and hard. They needed fresh water to set up their mia mia’s (camps) so they could live in harmony with the boodja (land). The Elders went down to the sea and they prayed to their creator for the water to come. Their creator came out of the wardarn (ocean) in the form of a snake: the Waugal. She pushed through the sand dunes, along her path creating the inlet of Mandja (Mandurah). The Waugal slithered back and forth and carved out a hollow which formed the Djilda (Peel-Harvey Estuary) and here she laid her eggs.
Some of the eggs hatched and young began to appear and they dispersed carving out the major bilya (rivers): Yoordinggaap (Harvey); Bilya Maadjit (Murray); and Waangamaap (Serpentine). The little ones, they were fat, and kept going east up to the hills, forming rivers and swamps. They came to be tired and starved as they didn’t stop to eat. The grooves they cut became thinner and thinner as they were further from their birthplace. When their end came they died and went underground, forming subterranean springs on their way back to their heaven, the wardarm (ocean).
Left behind them, were water supplies fresh and plentiful and water was restored to the land once more. But the Waugal, she went in search of her young, she went underground and came up here at Noorook Yalgorup (Lake Clifton) and then at Lake Preston. She kept going, looking for them, all the way to the Leschenault Estuary at Australind. She never found her babies, instead she burrowed down in the Djilda (Peel-Harvey Estuary) and where her mouth was, a spring of fresh water comes and it is a place where fish gather and Nyungars (local Aboriginal people) can catch them. And the Waugal, she is still there waiting for her young to return.
The Aboriginal people always live by the rules of the Waugal, and hold her in highest reverence for she created the waterways that are their lifeblood.
(Courtesy Peel-Harvey Catchment Council )
Lake Clifton Accommodation
We have stayed at Lakeside Apartments South Yunderup a few times when visiting Lake Clifton and the Peel region. The apartments offer great value accommodation, although they could do with an update as they are looking tired. You can read our full review here.
We have also rented a cabin at the Mandurah Caravan and Tourist Park, which included heating, air conditioning, a private bathroom, and a kitchenette. The holiday park is family-friendly with a swimming pool, playground, pedal karts, and jumping pillow.
To read the reviews and check up to date prices, click on the above links.
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