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Today, when you look across the waters of the Finley Lake, it is hard to imagine that at Finley’s beginning the lack of water posed a serious problem for those early settlers. At the eastern end of this now enticing expanse of water in 1884 a bore was sunk in what turned out to be a frustrating attempt to provide a reliable water supply for those hardy settlers. They did find water at the edge of this part time swamp but it was unsuitable for human consumption and it was not until some twelve years later in 1896 that a more suitable supply of water was discovered approximately 3km east of the village.
Water, or more correctly the lack of it, continued to be a problem with the need for supplies to be brought in by rail and school children being asked to bring their own from home during the dryer years. This problem persisted right up to 1939 when the Mulwala Canal as part of the Berriquin Irrigation scheme was opened, however it was not until 1941 that a town reservoir and water tower was completed making water available for general reticulation.
No scheme for the beatification of the town has displayed as much imagination as the plan to convert that swamp and drainage area bordered by the Newell and Riverina Highways into an ornamental lake.
In years of heavy rainfall when the area was flooded to capacity it was easy to visualise the possibilities of the proposition. The first practical suggestion for a town lake was put to a public meeting in March 1964. It took a further 10years of planning, fundraising and overcoming the difficulties associated with power lines, telephone cables, town water pipes and the provision of alternative town drainage before the earth works commenced in February 1974. The Hon Tom Lewis who had been Minister for Lands and had taken special interest is the project was invited to officially open the Finley Lake on 6th November 1975 as NSW State Premier as he was at the time.
From that day the Finley Lake has provided a welcome oasis for the weary traveller as well as being a venue for many and varied pursuits from fishing to bird watching, from sailing and canoeing to power boating and water skiing giving just cause for the adoption of the phrase 'Finley - By the Lake'.