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Lake Eyre floods for the third year in a row.

29/03/2011 13:51:52

Lake Eyre in flood. Courtesy SATC

World's Largest Salt Lake Comes Back to Life in South Australia

March 2011. Following last year's spectacular sight as floodwaters filled the once dormant Lake Eyre in South Australia, the remarkable natural phenomenon is occurring for a (potentially unprecedented in recent times) third consecutive year. Visitors can marvel at the reborn lake with scenic flights and expeditions.

At 15 metres below sea level and Australia's lowest point, Lake Eyre has only filled to the brim three times in the last 150 years. In 2000 the world's largest salt lake became half full, a rare wonder which was mirrored in 2009 when floodwaters flowed along the normally dormant creeks and rivers to breathe life into the dry lake once more. The 2009 Lake Eyre flood peaked at 1.5 metres deep in late May, a quarter of its maximum recorded depth of 6 metres.

Heavy rains in Queensland and New South Wales over Christmas 2009 and New Year 2010 coupled with good summer rains in the South Australian Outback led to a repeat of the impressive phenomenon in 2010.

After the well documented major floods in Queensland in December 2010, many queensland rivers and streams have been carrying the water slowly southwards. The usually dry Outback is also looking surprisingly verdant and green. It takes several months for the water to reach Lake Eyre, and it is predicted that water levels in the lake will peak around Easter. It is thought that it may well be the largest flood since 1969.  Visit between now and September to catch the spectacle before floodwaters recede. 

It doesn't flood often, but when it does..............   Credit SATC

Birding paradise

One result of this extraordinary event is prolific birdlife returning to the vast inland sea, making it a veritable birding paradise. With a lot of water on the ground it is not uncommon to see red-necked avocets, grey teals and black-tailed native hens. Other birds taking advantage of the conditions in varying habitats are brown songlarks, inland dotterels (with chicks), orange and crimson chats and red-backed kingfishers, which are all being seen readily within the area.

Visitors can marvel at the reborn lake for another three or four months with the following scenic flights and expeditions.

Lake Eyre floods Credit SATC

The Outback is green
It is a long time since the South Australian Outback has been this green. The stark array of colours from the air is a rare sight to behold. It is evident that there is a race and a small window of opportunity for flora and fauna to reproduce and it will be interesting to witness this over the coming months as the water level peaks and then begins to recede. It will be some time before the heat of summer will start to dry out the region and the grasses start to turn yellow then brown off. There will be plenty of feed for Marsupials, Mammals and Reptiles for years to come.

For more information, please go to the website of the South Australian Tourism Commission 

How to see this phenomenon 


Wrightsair ( ) has charter flights affording fantastic views of the prehistoric river systems that enter the lake, forming a magnificent pattern of colour.

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary( ) in the Flinders Ranges has two daily, four-hour aerial tours that include flying over the Marree Man.

Wilpena Pound Resort( ) itself located next to a natural phenomenon, Wilpena Pound - a natural amphitheatre 17kms long and 7kms wide - has a range of flights to Lake Eyre including a four-hour tour with lunch at William Creek - South Australia's smallest town, and a two-day tour with an overnight stay in Birdsville. Customised flight options are available on request.

Rawnsley Park Station( ), offering award-winning eco-villa accommodation in the Flinders Ranges, has a five-hour 'Lake Eyre Explorer' tour.


Chinta Air Tours ( ) has a two-day 'Outback Experience' tour that starts and ends in Adelaide and includes a night at Coober Pedy's Desert Cave Hotel, William Creek and Ceduna - Australia's oyster capital.

Banksia Adventures ( ) has a three-day tour from Adelaide that includes the Clare Valley wine region, the Flinders Ranges and a one-day scenic flight to Andamooka, William Creek and Lake Eyre. Two nights are spent at Wilpena.

The Prairie Hotel (, Parachilna (population seven) has a variety of trips, both overland and aerial.

Heading Bush Outback Adventures( ), established by 5th generation South Australian Mick Murdoch, has overland expeditions from Adelaide.

 APT Touring
(Tel 0845 603 6738 is offering a six-day 'Lake Eyre and Flinders Ranges' tour with August, September and October departures priced £1,705 per person. This price includes accommodation, most meals, transfers and sightseeing as detailed, but does not include international flights.


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