Glenlyon Dam, QLD

By: John Denman, Photography by: John Denman

Glenlyon Dam Brian and Debbie Dare have been welcoming travellers for 28
Glenlyon Dam Graham Goldsmith s own design camper trailer
Glenlyon Dam Most campsites feature shady trees
Glenlyon Dam POSSIBLE OPENER 2 Areas of drowned timber provide great fish habitat
Glenlyon Dam POSSIBLE OPENER There are two good launching ramps at Glenlyon
Glenlyon Dam Some sections of the Dumaresq are accessible from the Bruxne
Glenlyon Dam THe main building with the Kiosk and fuel
Glenlyon Dam Two mates Graham Goldsmith and Les Tengely made the trip fro
Glenlyon Dam You need to be ready for a strike
Glenlyon Dam Dam A section of the Severn River below the National Park

John Denman casts a line and takes a hit in the line of duty at the abundant and idyllic Glenlyon Dam.

Brian Dare sits with his wife Debbie on the verandah outside the office-cum-reception area enjoying a morning coffee. Behind them, the wall is papered with photographs; people holding cod or yellowbelly mostly, and the sun is always shining.

"It’s like a big aquarium actually," Brian said, looking out across the expanse of Glenlyon Dam. "The fish are partly stocked here, but there’s still plenty of breeding that goes on." To illustrate this last point, we go down to the dam wall and Brian points to a spot in the green water. "The cod are getting ready to breed," he said.

Sure enough, as your eyes become accustomed to the glare off the water, you can make out the movement just a few feet below the surface. A huge Murray cod at least a metre in length is using his pectoral fins to clean debris from a big flat rock. His movements are gracefully at odds with the size of the fish.

"He’s just waiting for his girlfriend," Brian explained with a smile. 

The Dares have been at Glenlyon for 28 years and, in that time, they have built up the facilities of the camping area with a constant attention to detail that ensures their clientele are both regular and happy.

"We get quite a few people coming in who might be on their way west, or returning from out that way," Debbie said. "Some only stay for a night, others like it so much they hang on much longer."


Glenlyon’s location is really well placed for a large number of activities, either on or near the dam. The southern end of Sundown National Park (NP) is close by, and provides easy access to the Severn River, which is ideal for canoeing, fishing and a bit of bushwalking. Two other river systems are also close by – the Mole River, and the Dumaresq (pronounced ‘Dewmerric’). Both of these also offer plenty of potential for short hops or day trips out of Glenlyon, with the Dumaresq flowing west towards Goondiwindi and forming part of the NSW/Qld border.

But, of course, the biggest drawcard to Glenlyon visitors is the fishing. The huge Murray cod are elusive but do get caught. Many people throw the bigger ones back because if it’s a feed you want the fish at the smaller-scale of the legal limit is the better choice.

Then there’s the yellowbelly. These fish put on plenty of weight in the nutrient-rich waters of the dam. Their favourite tucker is live shrimp or small yabbies, but the purist sport fishermen prefer to chase them with artificial lures, with the odd-looking spinnerbait being a firm favourite for both cod and ‘yellas’.

The dam is liberally sprinkled with drowned trees, and these are a favourite hangout for both fish. Dropping a spinnerbait or live bait down alongside some downed timber and slowly winding it back up will often provoke a strike, and you had better be ready for it. There have more than a few jaw-dropping moments around those dead trees.

Of course, with this amount of water present, it would be absurd to think there’d be no skiers. However, they seldom bother the fishos because waterskiing among dead trees is bad for you. If waterskiing is your thing, bear in mind that, from time to time, dead timber will float just below the surface. It’s not uncommon to see some birds that appear to be standing on the water, when in fact there’s a dead tree just below the surface.


The accommodation at the dam is a mix of camping and cabins. The cabins are comfortable and sleep four adults and, while there are no ensuites, the daily price reflects this. Campers, caravanners and camper trailer owners have a choice of powered or unpowered sites with plenty of shady trees, planted by the Dares. Brian and Debbie realised early on that many people like a campfire, and fireplaces are provided for either cooking or just sitting beside. Brian has also provided a supply of firewood and, while open fires are not allowed, you are welcome to bring your own Bush Pig cooker or equivalent.

Camping at Glenlyon is reminiscent of days gone by with less formality. It has the definite feel of bush camping without the dramas – but with the bonus of a shower available at the end of the day, and a toilet any time you need one.

There are also two boat ramps, both close to the camping area, and there is a small fleet of hire boats available. There are no restrictions on boating so, if you can tow it in, you can launch it.


Getting there

Glenlyon Dam Tourist Park is about 300km south of Brisbane. The park is well signposted and you will find the turnoff from the Bruxner Highway Mingoola, 58km west of Tenterfield. Then it’s only about 10km into Glenlyon and the campground.


  • Fish for Murray cod and yellowbelly.
  • Relax by the fire and enjoy the peaceful bush setting.

More information

  • Campers visiting Glenlyon are advised to be self-sufficient but unleaded, diesel and premium fuel are available on site. Snacks are available but there are no groceries. Ice is also available if you want to take home a few fish, but bag limits apply.
  • Contact Brian and Debbie for more information or to book a site on (02) 6737 5266 during business hours

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The full feature appeared in Caravan World #551 June 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!