Aroona Dam Paddling Trail

Discover this gem in the desert and enjoy a short paddle around Aroona Dam near Leigh Creek

Flinders Ranges and Outback

Flinders Ranges and Outback

Leigh Creek (560k from Adelaide)

5km loop

5km loop

Paddle Time Allow 2 hours




Paddling five checks BOM
Paddle SA is the governing body of paddle sport and recreation in South Australia. It leads and supports paddling in South Australia and encourages the safe exploration of our waterways. Paddling Trail South Australia has a range of Paddling Trails to suit different abilities. Know your ability.

Trail 42

Paddling Trails South Australia Avenza mapsIf you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza PDF Map app and have interactive paddling trail maps on hand when you need them. The app uses your device’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos, and drop Placemark pins.

Trail Information

Aroona Dam is about 6k south of the town along a dirt track. This track is rough but you do not need a 4WD to navigate it.

The dam is a picturesque oasis in the desert surrounded by hills and fringed by trees with an abundance of wildlife. Indeed nature abounds with wallabies, swans, kangaroos, and even turtles, all attracted by the water in this arid area.

The Dam has been stocked with Murray Cod and Callop. A permit is required to fish here.
It is an attractive dam to paddle around and view the wildlife.

Read about its history and construction below under Points of Interest below.
It is a fascinating find in such an arid region.


Toilet and picnic area

Points of Interest

Aroona Dam 
The origin of its name is not mentioned in sources. However, the word ‘Aroona’ is listed in the official government place name gazetteer as the name of some geographic features either adjoining the dam or located within its extent. A mountain, Mount Aroona, is located in the ridge on the north side of the dam’s lake. A former water feature is now located “under the waters of the Aroona Dam” is named as the Aroona Waterhole as well as having the Adnyamathanha name of Arrunha Awi.

It was designed and built by the Electricity Trust of South Australia from 1952 to 1957 by damming the Arrunha Creek (also known as Aroona Creek in one source and as Scott Creek in another source) and using a labour force consisting mainly of immigrants engaged by contract for two-years and which peaked at a maximum of 160 men. Two shifts were scheduled during the winter months while concrete pouring was not conducted between November and March due to “extreme heat.”

Its original purpose was to supply the original town of Leigh Creek and the Leigh Creek Coalfield which was relying on artesian water from Sliding Creek located about 45 km south-east of the current town of Leigh Creek. In 2004, it was reported as storing and supplying water to “Leigh Creek, Copley and Lyndhurst, the coalfield and several neighboring pastoral properties” and this was being augmented in respect to Leigh Creek by water from a flooded mine at Sliding Rock. However, in late 2016, it was advised that “water from Aroona dam will not be used for the town water supply” and that artesian water treated in a reverse osmosis desalination plant located near the Leigh Creek township would be used.

In 1995, it and adjoining land covering an area of 43 square kilometers were declared as a sanctuary under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 known as the Aroona Sanctuary.
(an extract from Wikipedia)

Aroona Dam has also featured in TripAdvisor with a number of visitors stumbling across this ‘gem’ of a place, an ‘unexpected’ lake set in beautiful hills and a place of ‘respite from the desert’.

Information about Aroona Dam Sanctuary (‘Aroona Dam Sanctuary – a vision splendid (PDF)’) has also been published by the SA Department for Environment and Heritage. The information featured here is very useful for visitors wanting to explore and experience this northern area of the Flinders Ranges and see how the area has been brought back to nature.

Aroona Dam consists of a concrete gravity dam of a height of 24 metres and a width of 236 metres which holds back a lake of a volume of 7,500 megalitres and which extends for a distance of about 3.5 km to the east of the dam wall.

Show us your photos on Instagram: #aroonadam

It is the perfect place for a swim in 40-degree heat. #southaustralia #australia #aroonadam #leighcreek #picturesque #sunset #summer
something about this green moss.. idk #canonphotography #dslr #aroonadam #flindersrangers
Just piss fartn around out here 

#southaustralia #aroonadam #79series #outback #outbackaustralia #outbackhighway  #touring #roadtrip #Toyota #diesel #ironman #jmaxengineering #mickythompson #4wding #offroad #maxtrax


Read this safety information page
before your paddling trip.


How to use maps and contact
Paddling Trails South Australia.

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Paddling Trail South Australia has a range of Paddling Trails to suit different abilities.

Know your ability

These are easy to access kayak and canoe trails through the Adelaide, Fleurieu Peninsula, Riverland, Murray River, and the Coorong.