Astronaut Scott Kelly, from aboard the ISS, had this to say about Lake Eyre in Australia: “#Lake_Eyre #Australia. You are very beautiful. Thanks for being there to brighten our day”. When an astronaut says that about a view from above, pointed out from the many awesome views one must see from up there, then you have to think to yourself; what is this place like?
Only in a few other areas on earth can you find anything similar to the ecosystem found at Lake Eyre and the surrounding region. The basin itself covers 1.2 million km², which would cover one-sixth of the entire continent of Australia. The basin also contains some of the world’s last wild river systems, making it a pretty unique spot on the planet.
Just like the salt plains in Bolivia, this massive area is also covered in salt and rare minerals, hence the importance of its ecosystem which greatly impacts the large numbers of wildlife and unique flora in the area. Wildlife such as bilbies (think Crash Bandicoot) and Lake Eyre dragon (which are more like lizards) are only found here. There is more flora that thrives on the lake than fauna, but it is the wildlife and birdlife around the lake that attracts the photographers to the area.
Lake Eyre generally floods every three years, and at this stage the water is reasonably fresh with fresh water fish like the bony bream. This is a magical time when a variety of wildlife flock to the lake, long dormant marine creatures multiply, and large flocks of waterfowl arrive to feed and raise their young. The water usually evaporates by the end of the following summer, with the water increasing in salinity as the volume decreases.
The only accessible areas of Lake Eyre by land are on the southern parts in an area called Lake Eyre – South. This is the main accessible area; however there are other parts that you can explore but only a few reach the main lake called Lake Eyre – North. These would be offroad tracks only accessible by offroad vehicles. Some are easy to navigate whilst others would definitely need a GPS device to help you get in and out. Take this warning lightly and you will get lost and potentially run out of fuel, and unless you have an emergency locater beacon you will most likely not see anyone for days, if not weeks. When navigating these kind of territories always make sure that you advise someone of your movements and let them know when you plan to make contact.
The lake with or without water can be a majestic sight, but the best way to witness it all is by air; no doubt about it, and if you have the funds you must catch a small plane and ready yourself to be gob-smacked. A quick Google search of images by the renowned photographer Julie Fletcher will give you a good idea of what I mean about the textures.
When you are going so deep into the outback, the most feasible way to do it would be with your own set of wheels. However there are outback tours that operate to the southern part of the lake starting from just over €700. These would include other parts of the outback and South Australia. Costs for having your own transportation would vary from €200 per week to a max of €500 per week, depending on how much four-wheel driving you do and where you refuel. Whenever exploring the outback with your own wheels, always take as much spare fuel as you can fit in your car.
Lake Eyre is without doubt one of the last frontiers for south Australia and no matter how you explore it, this will be cemented in your memory for a lifetime.
Until next time, let the world be your playground.