Thursday, 2 September 2010

Lake Eyre

Today we went on our much anticipated, and once in a lifetime, flight over Lake Eyre with water in it – and it didn’t disappoint at all. At great expense to the management we took a 2 hour flight with Phillip Island Helicopters, but caught the chopper from Marree which is at the south end of the Birdsville and Innamincka Tracks.
Marree is a small town which was for some time the head of the Ghan railway line from Adelaide before it went all the way to Alice Springs, and ultimately Darwin. When the standard gauge railway was built, it went by a different route which did not include Marree or many other small towns on the original route and they subsequently declined considerably. It was also the home base of Tom Kruse who was the renowned Birdsville mailman for so many years, including a few in this truck before there was even a semi serious road.
We headed off from Marree in a generally north westerly direction past Lake Eyre South, which is not generally filled from the north but from other rivers generally coming from the south, although when Lake Eyre North gets very full some water does flow into the other lake. The lakes are about 15 m below sea level, and are about 9 times more salty than sea water and often have a pink tone due to the presence of an algae. After checking out Madigan Gulf, the site of Donald Campbell’s world record land speed record, we headed off towards where the Cooper Creek enters the lake, and followed it back to where the Birdsville Track crosses the Cooper Creek via a punt. It has been a particularly busy few days for the ferry operator as the Birdsville Races are on this weekend, and there have only been a very few years when flooding in the creek has coincided with the races. The real challenge may come after the races as there is considerable rain forecast for the next few days, and how some people are going to get home after a longer than anticipated stay in Birdsville will be interesting.
Whilst the birdlife in the Cooper Creek was not as obvious as we had anticipated, it was a very impressive site and well worth the trip. An item off our Bucket List and a great day all around.

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