June 2000 - We drove to the Flooded Lake Eyre in Northern South Australia to paddle a canoe on the flooded lake.

lake-eyre-in-flood-canoe-trip

click on map for larger version

We drove from Adelaide through Leigh Creek, Lynhurst and Maree. Then up the Oodnadatta track to William Creek.

Lake Eyre does not fill very often, so we jumped at the opportunity to try to canoe on Lake Eyre while in Flood. Is not an easy place to get to, not somewhere that a backpacker can drop into. There are some 4WD tours that backpackers can take, otherwise you either need a 4WD of your own, or need to hire or rent a 4WD

 

palne art along the oodnadatta track

(click on picture for a larger version)

Plane Art along the Oodnaddata Track

The track from William Creek to Halligan bay can be dangerous. In 1998 an Austrian couple who got bogged on the track to Halligan Bay, in December. Their rental Britz campervan Toyota LandCruiser got bogged and they could not free it. They set out and tried to walk back to William Creek along the track but the male became ill. He walked back to the bogged rented camper-van while the female Gabriele Grossmueller, aged 28 years, continued on. She died on or about 12 December, 1998 of heat exhaustion, and dehydration. The male survived when found by the Oodnaddata Police on about 15 December 1998 . More details on the case here

bushwalkers ahead on the port davey track tasmania

dragging the canoe out of Lake Eyre in flood Halligan Bay - Mum, Sam and me. (click on the picture for a larger version)

 
button grass plains south of scotts peak port davy track

Sam getting out of the canoe on Lake Eyre in flood - you needed to walk a long way out for to get deep enough to float the canoe

 

unloading canoe outback south australia lake eyre in flood

Unloading the canoe - Lake Eyre in flood in the background. A clear blue day in outback South Australia

 

Some information about Lake Eyre in outback South Australia

The lake was named after Edward John Eyre who was the first European to sight it in 1840. The lake is located in the deserts of central Australia, in northern South Australia. The Eyre Basin is a large endorheic system surrounding the lakebed, the lowest part of which is filled with the characteristic playa salt pan caused by the seasonal expansion and subsequent evaporation of the trapped waters. Even in the dry season there is usually some water remaining in Lake Eyre, usually collecting in a number of smaller sub-lakes on the playa.

During the rainy season the rivers from the northeast (in outback Queensland) flow towards the lake through the Channel Country. The amount of water from the monsoon determines whether water will reach the lake and if it does, how deep the lake will get. Since 1885 this has occurred in 1886/1887, 1889/1890, 1916/1917, 1950, 1955, 1974-1976 , with the highest flood of 6m in 1974. Local rain can also fill Lake Eyre to 3-4m as occurred in 1984 and 1989. Wave built shingle terraces on the shore suggest that during the Medieval Warm Period and centuries immediately prior Lake Eyre possibly held permanent water at levels above those of 1974. Torrential rain in January 2007 took about six weeks to reach the lake but put only a small amount of water into it.

When recently flooded the Lake is almost fresh and native fresh water fish, including boney bream (Nematolosa erebi), the Lake Eyre Basin sub-species of golden perch (Macquaria ambigua) and various small hardyhead species (Craterocephalus spp.) can survive in it. The salinity increases as the 450mm salt crust dissolves over a period of six months resulting in a massive fish kill. When over 4m deep the Lake is no more salty than the sea and salinity increases as the water evaporates with saturation occurring at about 500mm depth. The Lake takes on a "pink" hue when saturated due to the presence of beta-carotene pigment caused by the algae Dunaliella salina.Typically a 1.5 m (5 ft) flood occurs every three years, a 4 m (13 ft) flood every decade, and a fill or near fill four times a century. The water in the lake soon evaporates with a minor and medium flood drying by the end of the following summer.

 

 
lake eyre in flood outback south australia

A satellite picture of water flowing into Lake Eyre outback South Australia flowing down the Warburton Groove. (click on image for a larger photo)

 

lake eyre basin rivers flowing into lake eyreRivers Flowing into Lake Eyre - The Lake Eyre basin.

The most important rivers are the Warburton and the Macumba.

 

island in lake eyre 1974An island in Lake Eyre during the 1974 Flood, the biggest flood in the last 100 years in Lake Eyre
lake eyre in flood outback south australiaDonald Campbell on the salt on Lake Eyre in 1964 - we set a world speed record at the time of 650 km

Links to other Lake Eyre sites:

Floods of Lake Eyre - graph of flood levels :

The Lake Eyre Yacht Clucb - latest Lake Eyre Flood Status:

Lake Eyre Basin