Tomato Lake, named for tomato crops grown here in the early 1900's is located on Oats Street at Kewdale. We walked around the lake in an anti-clockwise direction starting from the playground. The western edge of the lake offers glimpses of the lake through the trees while the eastern side has a wider more open view of the lake.
We bypassed the bridge on the western side and walked on to the boardwalk over the wetlands (being mid summer the wetlands were dry). Circling around we passed an impressive row of tall white gum trees before accessing the boardwalk across to the gazebo for views out over the lake and to the island bird sanctuary. The gazebo boardwalk cuts across the lake from both sides.
Continuing around the eastern edge of the lake with its wide open green spaces we passed a small grove of casuarina trees which would be a great place for the kids to play. Onwards past the three wooden totems and back past the viewing platform to the play areas.
At a leisurely pace the 1.6km walk takes around 30-40 minutes. This is a perfect walk for kids to ride scooters or bikes or to push a pram or a wheelchair as it is flat and paved except for the Jida Bidi interpretive dirt trail that detours through the bush. You can shortcut the 1.6km walk by taking the boardwalk through to the gazebo.
There are toilets, BBQs, picnic table and water stations alongside open grassed areas for games and three play areas plus a basketball court and a fitness park with exercise equipment. Please note there are no fences around the playgrounds or the lake.
Tomato Lake Kiosk is open most days for a quick bite or to grab a coffee, icecream or cold drink. There are three car parks around the lake so if the main car park is full try further along.
The island in the lake is a sanctuary for pelicans, ibises, spoonbills, ducks, swans, parrots, cormorants, and honeyeaters. How many can you spot?
This swampy wetland was a meeting place for Aboriginal people. After European settlement it was initially known as Smith's Swamp then was renamed Craig's Swamp after the poultry farmer who grew first maize and later tomatoes in the area. As the surrounding land in the area was cleared for residential development the swamp gradually became at first too wet and then too dry to grow tomatoes.
In the 1940's local kids would paddle canoes and catch gilgies in the river. In the 1950’s the lake was filled with trout and an angling club was established. In the 1970's the lake became infested with duckweed until local action groups and residents helped to clear it. In the 1980's a major council redevelopment began and the lake was deepened and fountains installed to assist water circulation. Later development included construction of trails, a boardwalk, seating and signage.
We enjoyed this walk in summer when the wetlands had dried but aim to return during winter and spring to fully appreciate the flooded wetlands.