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Insider pics: water in Lake Eyre/Kati Thanda

Water in Lake Eyre/Kati Thanda is an amazing sight. Check out these recent pics from park insider Tony Magor.

You may have heard the news that there’s water in Australia’s largest salt lake, Lake Eyre/Kati Thanda (which sits within Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park), following heavy rains in Queensland earlier this year.

Located about 750 kilometres north of Adelaide, the north lake itself measures a whopping 114 km long by 77 km wide, and is the lowest point in Australia.

The 1.2 million square kilometre catchment area is one of the largest interior drainage basins in the world and covers a sixth of the Australian continent.

Lake Eyre/Kati Thanda is comprised of two lakes – the much larger northern lake and the smaller southern lake. The two lakes are connected to each other through a narrow channel known as the Goyder Channel.

The harsh Australian desert environment means the lake sits dry most of the time. On average every eight years or so flood waters from inland Queensland flow down river systems such as the Diamantina River, Cooper Creek and Warburton Creek and enter into Lake Eyre North. However some level of flooding has occurred every year since 2009.

Tony Magor, National Parks and Wildlife Manager for Flinders and Outback recently flew over the lake to capture some wonderful photos. Here’s what he had to say about it:

How much water is in the lake?

Water levels in Lake Eyre (North)/Kati Thanda peaked at about 65-70 per cent surface coverage in June but have been dropping, so it’s now at about 55 per cent coverage. Lake Eyre (South)/Kati Thanda remained dry during this flood event.

Although there were some media reports that the 2019 flood event would be the largest flood in 45 years, it unfortunately didn’t materialise.

The good news is that Belt Bay and Jackboot Bay in Lake Eyre (North)/Kati Thanda are close to full and look really nice. It is likely that water will remain in Belt Bay until the end of the year.

Bottom of Belt Bay (looking west), Lake Eyre (North)/Kati Thanda

Lake Eyre (South)/Kati Thanda

Is there any more water coming?

Inflows from the Warburton and Kalaweerina Creeks have now dropped so water levels in Lake Eyre (North)/Kati Thanda will continue to decrease.

As we move into the warmer months and evaporation rates increase, the decrease in water levels in the lake will accelerate.

Are there many birds in the lake?

There’s not too many birds on the lake’s islands, but there are good numbers of pelicans, ducks, raptors, cormorants and silver gulls, as well as a few other varieties in the Warburton Creek that flows into northern end of Lake Eyre (North)/Kati Thanda.

Pelicans on Warburton Creek

What’s the best way to see the lake?

The best way to see the lake is from the air. As the water levels drop and salinity increases, the water in some sections of the lake may take on a pink tinge which is spectacular to see.

The colours in the water, the different light depending on the direction you take photos, the salt patterns and the salt formations make a flight over the lake a must-do for anyone visiting the area.

Visit the National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia website to plan your visit. You might also like to visit these desert hotspots on the way.

Main image: Bottom of Jackboot Bay (looking north), Lake Eyre (North)/Kati Thanda

(All images captured on 22 July 2019)


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