Pelicans flock in to greet the flood water spilling into Lake Eyre north. Aerial photo: Trevor Wright 18th March 2010

Heavy rains that fell across northern NSW and Queensland since the Christmas and New Year period is currently flowing down a number of creeks and rivers and spilling into Lake Eyre.

Lake Eyre is receiving steady flows of flood waters with follow-up rains between March and April expected to attract the migration of much more bird life to the area.

Seagulls have made their way inland and pelicans are already flocking in, anticipating their own native fishing season.

Excitement is beginning to grab the attention of holiday makers as summer cools off in the southern states of Australia.

Lake Eyre, a giant basin where the great inland rivers of the outback converge.  The lake can lay dry for many years on end, with picturesque white salt formations around the banks and a white blanket of salt as far as the eye can see with lizards and other hardy creatures still able to survive.

Lake Eyre was also the location chosen for  Donald Campbell’s Bluebird CN7 speed trials where he achieved 429 mph (690 km/h) on his final Lake Eyre run. The site was chosen as it offered 450 square miles (1,170 km2) of dried salt lake, where rain had not fallen in the previous 20 years and the surface of the 20-mile (32 km) track was as hard as concrete.

This year with the tempestuous inland rivers flooding in from across the borders after Queensland received a tropical drenching recently, Lake Eyre is beginning to come alive as a gigantic wetland system, boiling with aquatic life, attracting water birds for thousands of kilometres, bringing a cycle of life once again into the desert.
Last year in 2009 after tropical rains ravaged the eastern states, Lake Eyre drew record crowds for the spectacle as the flood waters began spilling in.  Visitors received an outback feast with many arriving at Easter in time for Coober Pedy’s annual Opal Festival.   

This year, 2010 Coober Pedy celebrates its 95th year as an opal mining town, being the last frontier in Australia where pioneers built an underground town below the sedimentary level of the Great Inland Sea after opal was discovered to exist at the Stuart Range in 1915.

Fortunately March/April marks the period where the soaring heat of the summer subsides into a balmy warmth which lasts for several more months.  

Coober Pedy’s outback mailman Peter Rowe who owns and operates Desert Diversity Tours, leaves the Opal mining town twice each week heading down TO drop off mail and supplies to outback stations and small towns like Oodnadatta.

Peter, with his large troupe carrier always conveying adventurous sightseers is often the only communication the station folk have during their hectic lives mustering and taking care of their large stations.

Peter is a pioneer of the outback and says that Lake Eyre is 15 metres below sea level.  

Features of Lake Eyre. Hughes Island in foreground with water travelling down the Warburton Groove past it. Aerial Photo: Trevor Wright 19/03/2010

 After passing the last of the underground homes with the outback mailman, visitors witness the longest fence in the world, the Dingo Fence before entering and travelling over Anna Creek, the world’s largest cattle station, stopping at Lake Cadibarrawirracanna.  

The travellers  cross  over the red sand hill country before arriving at one of Australia’s most unique towns and pub at William Creek, a great place to stop for refreshments.

Peter then meets up with Trevor Wright, an experienced charter pilot who lives at William Creek where visitors are able to enjoy a picturesque and photographic expedition over Lake Eyre. 

Most importantly the area around Lake Eyre is the native homeland of the Arabunna people. Bundoo Bunta is the name given to the Lake by the Arabunna who are the traditional custodians and keepers of the Lake. 

Lake Eyre has only completely filled three times in recorded white history – the last time occurred in 1974-75. The Arabunna people will have many stories passed down through their ancestors of earlier occurences. 

NASA photo of Lake Eyre March 2009
Earth Observatory

Lake Eyre transforms into an outback oasis
ABC News Lake Eyre