Will Lake Eyre Flood?

Submitted: Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 21:38
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A publican on the Birdsville Track says potential tourists from across Australia have been in contact, eager to know if south-west Queensland floodwaters will fill Lake Eyre in outback South Australia.

Floodwaters from the Thomson, Barcoo and Cooper Creek systems are flowing toward the South Australian border and there are also flows being monitored in the Diamantina and Georgina systems.

Phil Gregurke from the Mungerannie Hotel says he has been surprised at how much interest there is.

"Mainly all from interstate, Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, some of the four-wheel drive clubs and just general interest," he said.

"The water doesn't seem to run very often. Whether it gets down to Lake Eyre - it has to fill Lake Hope first, it may get down to Coopers Crossing, but a lot of locals are saying they need follow-up rains for all of this to happen."

Who has seen it in flood - and what difference does it make to your general view, experience etc? Is it a significant worthwhile event to see in flood as opposed to salt lake?
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 22:23

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 22:23
I think lakes with water in them are "faily common", although generally pretty, but standing at the edge of Lake Ayre, at Halligan Bay and looking over the vastness of the glaring white salt pan just adds to the feeling of insignificance when in Mother Nature's realm.

If you walk on it you can hear the crunch of the salt crust and then, when you walk away and get in the vehicle to drive away, you wonder, how long will my footprints remain?

Actually, I'm going up there for the Easter break and I'll be sure to let everyone know if "water is found".

Maybe I should take the tinnie, just in case:-))

I also intend calling in to the William Creek Hotel to see if the ExplorOz card I left last visit is still at the left end of the bar.

Bill


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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 22:28

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 22:28
Geez Bill, you should try proof reading before submitting.

"Fairly common" and "Lake Eyre", not "Ayre".

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Reply By: GREENDOG - Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 22:23

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 22:23
Surprised Phil would be, soon he hasn't been in the area for very long.cheer's GREENDOG
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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 22:26

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 22:26
A good site to to see what is going on around Lake Eyre is http://lakeeyreyc.com/

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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 22:56

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 22:56
I've had a few visits to Lake Eyre:
1977 when dry
1989 when fully flooded
2000 when largely flooded
And a couple of other times when dry.

What you experience depends on your expectations. If you've never seen the lake, its great to go out to somewhere like Level Post Bay (via Muloorina) at any time and take it in. Its pretty vast, walk out on its crusty surface until your feet sink into the black slime. The country surrounding the Lake is pretty intersesting, and the camp site at Muloorina is very good bush camping (donation to RFDS).

Experience when full is very different, and depends on where you see it. From Level Post Bay, it has to be 100% full to get your ankles wet - it was pretty much that way in 1989. And was very full in 1974.

In 2000 we had an exceptional experience, being guided by Malcolm from Muloorina Station. He took a group of us across the Causeway (between the North and South Lakes) and up the Babbage peninsula. The edge of the Lake here is very deep - its like being down at the beach. The birdlife was prolific. On the edge of the water were swarms of little shrimp. You can see some of the flocks of Pelicans through binoculars. Theres a lookout with a Cairn, and some spectacular formations called Camel Canyon, from memory. It took a long days driving to do the loop around Babbage peninsula from camp.

I also did the Plane flight in 2000 with Wrights Air from William Creek. Worth every cent when the Lake is in flood. I have no idea what it looks like when dry, but I found the sanddunes very interesting to look at from teh air too.

As for it flooding again, Im a disbeliever at present. Theres about 5 main rivers that feed Lake Eyre.Warburton may throw a splash in at the top.Cooper Creek won't reach Lake eyre. And the rivers to the west have had no rain and are dry. But I'd love to see a lot more rain fall, and see some water in the Lake.

I'll see if I can dig up some photos, but it won't be until tomorrow night.

Cheers
Phil








visited the Lake Eyre South when dry in 1977 (3 years after the huge 1974 floods)
Then lake Eyre North via level post Bay during the

via Muloorina in 1989
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 23:37

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 23:37
Lake Eyre in flood from the air:


Sand Dunes from the air:


Lake eyre Shoreline from Babbage Peninsula June 2000:


Camel Canyon - waters of Lake Eyre are off to the left.
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Follow Up By: Member - bushfix - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 09:09

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 09:09
awesome photos Phil, thanks for putting them up.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 11:43

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 11:43
Those photos were taken with my first digital camera a Kodak DC215 which is about 1/2 a megapixel! My photos from earlier trips are on slides - I'll see if I can do some sort of a conversion tonight.
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 23:03

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 23:03
To be honest, I too am a disbeliver of it flooding. I have seen it when dry in 1999? or was it 1998? A travel diary of our daily experiences can be readHere. Forgive me - it was a long time ago, and pre-ExplorOz. God knows what I've written there....but there's some pics and stories etc.

Thank you for your first hand reports on various conditions over the years, your comments, (and forthcoming photos) are fantastic. I created this post as it is rather topical and thought others might be thinking the same thing - whether they've seen it before or not.
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Reply By: Crackles - Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 23:07

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 23:07
Have seen Lake Eyre South with water & to be honest we didn't even know before we left it was part full so it really had no bearing on the trip & where we went. Probably only spent 30 minutes looking & took 3 photo's before heading off. It wasn't till a few years later that the significance of there being water did I think we were fortunate to witness such an event. I wouldn't make a special trip just to look from the bank as really it's just a large body of water and access to anywhere interesting is either very difficult or private property but if passing it's a must stop.
What is impressive I'm told is the plane flight out of William Creek where the enormity of the lake & the massive amount of bird life can be seen in the midst of a desert.
When the Warburton last flowed we cruised the 200km into Lake Eyre by boat. This was undoubtably the best outback experience of my life and was almost surreal being in a boat with the Simpson Desert dunes just over the bank. I believe camping at Kalamurina Station may have been restricted but the 1st 80km used to have access to the river and was far more interesting than going to the 3 regular viewing spots at the southern end of the Lake.
Cheers Craig..............
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 08:32

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 08:32
Hi Craig

We had a similar experience in the nineties - drove past saw the water "out there a bit" didn't take a lot of interest , but then thought I'd drive out and see how far I got before it went soft.

Only got about 50m and front wheel broke thru crust to soft mushy mud & salt. As I was ready for it I was just able to back out but with dif locks.

Sounds like you had a great trip in the boat though.

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Reply By: Member - extfilm (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 23:52

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 23:52
Hi Michelle,
Stats say the lake gets water on average once every 10 years, fills once every 25 years and floods once evry 80 years.
I was there when it filled in 2000 and managed to get a 5 page feature and cover on Outdoor Australia Mag padddling a sea kayak.
It was one of the most amazing experience. Also went there last year and both times are very impressive.

Here are a few pics

Image Could Not Be Found






And one I have locked on my website

Lake Eyre

Not sure how to link this one properly

Peter
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 02:03

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 02:03
Great photos Peter.
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 23:57

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008 at 23:57
Hi Peter,
Your photos (as usual) are astounding. Thanks for sharing them here. What a great idea though, using kayaks. David and I (and other travelling friends) are all currently thinking of gearing up with kayaks both for use here in Perth (adding another leg to the eventing) but also for Ningaloo, and now I see another use - great! Lake Eyre by kayak would be a must-do I can see that now and will keep my eye on the weather some more. (ps I thought the stats were very 7 yrs, not 10? oh well.. semantics)...guess I could look it up but stats are stats and the climate is changing!!
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Follow Up By: Member - extfilm (NSW) - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 00:11

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 00:11
Michelle, you could be right it may be 7 years. I wrote the story almost 8 years ago and I remember a small amount of water also flowed in 2004. A couple of kayakers had to be rescued by chopper. They tried following the water down and did not make it. As a consequence they had to leave their boats on the lake to be retrieved at a later date. I happened to have 2 boats on the ute on my first trip accross the Simpson travelling back from Ningaloo and you would not believe the amount of people who asked me if I was one of the guys that got rescued.
I do remember the 80 year stat as I was trying to sell the story to Qantas mag and they told me to do it again next time it floods....... I had to laugh as I doubted I would be around in 80 years..... Or at least not fit enough to be able to paddle a sea kayak.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 00:15

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 00:15
I vaguely remember hearing this story on the news.
BTW - have you tried squiding from your kayak at Ningaloo?
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Follow Up By: Member - extfilm (NSW) - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 00:26

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 00:26
No not from the back of the kayak but my cousin owns a fishing boat. He took me and the kayaks to the Montebello islands for a paddle.
One night we were catching squid for bait and I would reckon in half an hour we caught at least a hundred. We had a competetion to see who could catch the most in 5 mins. I am not experienced in any way and I caught 8. They caught twice as much. You could not eat them though. Although you could but they tasted like ........... Out of all th squid we caught there was only 2 edible ones
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 00:31

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 00:31
Ok, I'm over being jealous of you and will just ask more questions... as this is becoming rather fascinating....I love catching, preparing and eating squid - but have never caught so many as in this story, but why were they inedible??? Isn't squid squid?
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Follow Up By: Member - extfilm (NSW) - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 01:02

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 01:02
That I am not too sure as they fish to sell to Perth markets. We caught almost 2 tonne of fish in 2 days. We were about 14 hours nth west of Exmouth.
The squid was purely for bait. I asked the question as to whether we could eat them but they said they did try once and they were not very nice. When we caught the 2 that were good eating they showed me the difference and if I remeber rightly it had something to do with the wings on the back one was smaller than the other.
Then again maybe they were not preparing them right which would not surprise me as fishing came first, catching bait came second, drinking coffee came forth, sleep came fifth and food came last...... I think it is a diferent story now though. food is a bit more important LOL.
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 10:17

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 10:17
"Lake Eyre by kayak would be a must-do" Michelle the one thing that Peters great photo's don't show is that access to the water from almost any direction is often by dragging your boat 50 to 100m through the mud to find a spot deep enough to paddle. I'd hate to get caught out away from the bank if there was a wind change as when it blows offshore the edge of the water can dissapear 1/2 a km away :-)
Coongie Lakes and the Cooper creek is the spot for kayaking in the desert.
Cheers Craig............
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Follow Up By: Member - extfilm (NSW) - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 11:35

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 11:35
Funny you should say that Craig...... We spent 5 nights on the lake and we wanted to head east. Because the wind was so fierce we ended up 80kms off course. There are no land marks and we were navigating by a map and compass. It wasn't until night time we were able to navigate by the stars and found we were off course.
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 16:18

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 16:18
Rex Ellis's book Bush Safari has a couple of exciting storys of crossing lake Eyre getting lost out in the middle & being swamped by big waves. It would be quite difficult to navigate out on the lake without a GPS as the light reflecting off the water gives the impression of islands in the distance but as you approach they dissapear.
Here's a couple of scanned photo's approaching the lake from the Warburton river.





Cheers Craig................

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Reply By: Peter 2 - Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 06:12

Friday, Feb 15, 2008 at 06:12
We've seen it in flood too, quite an awesome sight!
Funnily enough what the kids remember more form that trip was crossing the Coopers on the ferry on the Birdsville track.
That and camping along the Coopers with all the water.
Bit hard to get a true impression of the water unless up in a plane which we've never done, next time
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Reply By: Blueheeler - Thursday, Feb 21, 2008 at 20:01

Thursday, Feb 21, 2008 at 20:01
Lake Eyre is a fantastic sight any time, if you turn right @ Maree racecourse up to 'Muloorina" homestead, you will go through the "Chamberlain Fence" ( No babies passed this point ) L O L
the "Dog Fence" on up to the homestead, there used to be a sign off to the left pointing to the lake 35 K's, on this track you pass across the top of the south lake & then on 15 odd K's to the north lake, you come up onto the top of a sand hill & the north lake spreads out to the north & west, you will be about 20 K's from where Donald Campbell broke the world land speed record in the 1960"s. we were there about 4 times a year between 1983 & 1989, wet & dry it was only a foot or so @ this point, I rode my trike ont 10 K's when it was dry & paddled a canoe on it as well,
once having lunch @ the lookout point on the north Lake a Landcruiser pulled up with surf board on top & this young bloke 18 / 19? years ols said to his old man "Bloody hell dad we've missed Lake Eyre this is Bloody Darwin. ( Never ever drive your car on the lake ) I've seen many Drongos stuck bogged to the floor. No Raa or Nrma out here. Go any time you wont be sorry, I dont know but you used to be able to camp on the Frome creek below the "Muloorina" homestead, a top camp site too. happy camping. Bobcat..
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