Nilpena Station is one of the few stations that allow access to Lake Torrens, there are no public access routes to the Lake. This trek starts from the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna and goes to Nilpena Station and then to Lake Torrens. It takes about three hours and costs $30.00 a vehicle. Bookings can be made at the Prairie Hotel on (08) 8648 4844.
The graded station track meanders along the gibber and sandy plains. There are a couple of low sand hills to cross over to bring the traveller in to the dune corridor which eventually peters out as the shore of the lake is approached. In the distance to the east the Flinders Ranges
provide a back drop to this trek which is best viewed on the return trip. Lake Torrens lies 8 metres above sea level and is 205km in length and 40km wide. It is usually a dry salt lake but the surface is powdery and when damp can become a quagmire. Visitors are requested not to attempt to drive on the lake as bogging is inevitable, recovery difficult and will leave unsightly scars on the lake.
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Sandy loam soils interspersed with gibber stones cover the plains to the east of Lake Torrens
. The flora comprises salt bush, blue bush, samphires and other fleshy leaved plants which can stand being inundated with water. There is no growth on the surface of the lake other than salt crystals. It is rare to see water entering this flat salt encrusted basin. Visitors are requested not to attempt to drive on the lake as bogging is inevitable, recovery difficult and will leave unsightly scars on the lake. Nilpena Station runs cattle on some very sparsely vegetated country.
Lake Torrens became part of the speculation and myth amongst early European explorers
of the presence of an Inland Sea. In 1831 after Charles Sturt had rowed down the Murray River, he confirmed that the river did not flow in to the inland sea.
Edward John Eyre
explored the western side of the Flinders Ranges
in 1841 and he 'discovered' Lake Torrens and named it after Colonel Robert Torrens who was one of the founders of South Australia
was also under the impression that it was part of the great inland sea. Further explorations by Babbage and Warburton in the late 1850's skirted around the western side of the lake.
In the 1883 a scheme was mooted to permanently flood Lake Eyre
via a canal connecting Spencer Gulf to Lake Torrens and on to Lake Eyre
. This scheme was howled down with derision and shelved.