Coila Lake

A large but shallow waterway with an Area Catchment of 48 km2 and a Waterway Area of 6.3 km2 with depths not exceeding 3 m,

Coila Lake is located east of the Princes Highway and north of the town of Tuross Head. The entrance is located at the southern end of Bingie Beach. When the entrance is open, and Coila Creek (only substantial creek feeding the lake) is not in flood, water salinities similar to the ocean extend over the entire lake. The lake bed comprises mostly mud, with marine sand confined to the entrance.


* Notable habitat for the "Greasyback" or Greenback prawn, a species which can complete its life-cycle in enclosed waters without migrating to the sea.
* Excellent small boat sailing, water skiing and amateur fishing.
* SEPP14 wetlands on Coila Creek are made up of saltmarsh which has been declared an endangered ecological community. Also present is Wilsonia rotundifolia, also endangered and only known from four locations on the south coast of NSW.



Prawning in Coila

Undertake any Google Search for "Coila" and "prawns" and you will find hit after hit referring to the famous prawns of Coila Lake. Talk to old timers of Tuross and you will hear stories of families prawning under torch light through summer. It was a part of the tradition of celebrating summer holidays in Tuross that has now become just a memory of the past

There used to be vast quantities of prawns in the lake to such an extent that it attracted commercial fisherfolk to haul net them regularly. Most often, after the plunder, there were prawns left for the families to potter around with.

Up until 2009 it was allowable to under FISHERIES MANAGEMENT (GENERAL) REGULATION 1995 - REG 29 to net haul prawns on Coila Lake if the total length did not exceeding 75 metres; mesh throughout not less than 30 mm nor more than 36 mm; length of each hauling line not exceeding 130 metres.

The total weight of prawns caught in Coila Lake fell dramatically in 1993–1994 because the mouth of the estuary closed to the ocean in January 1993 and these subsequent closure may possibly have contributed to the prawns fading away.

The Coila Bar has been opened several times since the report of 1993-1994, in 1995, 1998, 1999 and in 2002, 2010, 2012 and 2015.

Photos of the openings can be see here and here

A Bayesian Analysis of NSW Eastern King Prawn Stocks

South coast lakes get prawn stocking for Christmas -
Nov, 2007
Four million juvenile eastern king prawns are to be stocked in southern NSW lakes from December 10-17.

The prawns will be placed in Wallagoot and Back Lake near Merimbula by University of NSW staff.

Three million juvenile prawns will be placed in Wallagoot Lake and one million in Back Lake, as the second part of a three year research project that is funded by the Recreational Fishing Trusts and carried out by researchers from the University of New South Wales.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Recreational Fisheries Manager, John Diplock, said the tiny stocked juvenile prawns weigh less than a gram and will be able to be harvested when they reach about 50mm in total length.

"Prawns stocked in the first stage of the project in late January 2007 (three million in Wallagoot and one million in Back Lake) have shown good survival and excellent growth rates," Mr Diplock said.

"These prawns have now reached up to 30g in size and recreational fishers have been reporting good catches. This bodes well for the success of the second stage of the project," he said.

"During the three year study, fish will be caught from stocked and non-stocked areas to estimate the proportion of the stocked prawns that are consumed by predators," he said.

"Research projects like this are important because over 18 million prawns are harvested annually by recreational fishers Australia wide, with over 65% of these being harvested in NSW.

The Eastern King Prawn accounts for around 83 percent of the recreational prawn catches in NSW," he said.

Funds raised from recreational fishing license fees are placed into two Trusts, one for saltwater and freshwater, with the money spent on projects such as these to enhance recreational fishing in NSW.



Coila Lake TLPG Brouchure


CoilaLake Further reading:

Brown and Root - Tuross and Coila Lake Estuary Study 2001

Tuross Estuary and Coila Lake Entrance Management Study

Community consultation in developing a management plan for Tuross Estuary and Coila Lake

Tuross/Coila Estuary Management Study. Prioritised Future Management Strategies ... and foreshores
of the Tuross Estuary and Coila Lake

VALUING OUR ESTUARIES by The Coastwatchers Association Inc


Estuary Assessment 2000: Coila Lake

Coila Lake Entrance Management Policy - Kerryn Stephens presentation


In the News:

Wednesday, February 20, 2002 Coila Lake monitoring continues after heavy rain

Coila Opening August 26, 2015

Initial trigger to Open Coila Lake
2.3.2 Policy Outline source

RL 2.0m AHD; or
RL 1.80m AHD for more than 3 months.

At RL 1.8m AHD, the stormwater system at the end of Monash Avenue (including a GPT) begins to be inundated. Council has indicated that this is not really a significant constraint and it does not affect backwater drainage for areas upstream, however, prolonged inundation with salt water will potentially damage the stormwater infrastructure. This level will also flood to the edge of the fill batters for the Princes Highway.

At RL 2.0m AHD, the private access road on the north side of Coila Creek is overtopped (same property as the land inundation at RL 1.5m). However, there is an alternative access point across the same land tenure less than 500m north of the constrained road.

At RL 2.2m AHD, small sections of the unformed cycle path along the southern shore of Coila Lake are inundated.

At RL 2.6m AHD, low level flooding of back yards occurs, while at RL 2.8m, some access to urban blocks becomes inundated.

At RL 2.8m AHD, some sections of the constructed cycle path becomes inundated.

At RL 3.0m AHD, the Coila Service Station starts to be inundated. There is a residence attached to the service station, which would also be inundated at this level. Maximum flood level in the past 20 years has reached within about 5 metres of the back door (probably in 1992 when peak lake level reached RL 2.3m).

You can track the height of Coila Lake in real time via the Manly Hydraulics website at this link


Councils Policy for opening Coila Lake can be found in the folowing document:

Review of Environmental Factors for Entrance Management of Coila, Tuross, Kianga, Little, Bullengella and Nangudga Lakes