We had one last holiday with just the two of us before the birth of our first child and it was either head up north to get away from the cold Melbourne winter, or head across to the Flinders Ranges and do a charter flight over Lake Eyre. After some discussion it was decided that due to the massive rains that occurred in Western Queensland earlier this year, the phenomena of Lake Eyre in flood was just to good an opportunity, and so it was west we were heading.
After a brief stopover in Adelaide to pick up the folks, we travelled north along the back roads through country towns such as Burra and Peterborough. The scenery was stunning, with rolling green hills and derelict stone huts left over from when the first settlers moved into the area. Our first three nights were booked into Rawnsley Park Station, a working station that has ventured into tourism, with caravan and camping grounds, self contained huts and eco villas.
Our first day was for exploring the Flinders Ranges as the last time I was there was 24 years ago as a young teenager on a family holiday. We ventured into Wilpena Pound and went for a nice stroll down to Hills Hut and back, a hut that was built by the first pastoralists that came into Wilpena Pound and has been restored to its former glory. After some lunch we then drove the Morlana Scenic Drive, a dirt road that runs through the Flinders Ranges from West to East. The country side was just stunning, and with the sun setting behind us the red rocks just came alive.
The second day was our flight over Lake Eyre and we were down at the bush runway early as we were all anxious to start our journey. The pilot was running a little late as there was ice covering the plane this morning after an extremely cold evening, but it wasn’t long before we were in the air and flying over the Flinders Ranges. To see the Ranges from the air was stunning, with the massive Wilpena Pound and the Ranges heading North, with flat open land on either side and Lake Torrens off in the distance, with a layer of water in it from recent rains in the area. As we left the Ranges and flying over the desert, there was a green tinge covering the land and large waterholes still filled with water from the recent rains.
A couple of hours later we were flying over Lake Eyre, and what an incredible site it was. While the South Lake did have some water in it, it was the North Lake where the flood waters from Queensland had arrived. The ever changing colours where the water was lapping at the edge of the salt lake, to the deep reds where the bacteria was forming, to the deeper channels where the water was flowing down from the rivers. When you looked North there was no distinction in the horizon from where the water and sky merged as one, where from 500 feet the Lake disappeared into the distance. This incredible sight is the result of rains that occurred months beforehand hundreds of kilometres away, with vast volumes of water bringing life to a region where normally there is very little life.
After flying across the Lake for 25 minutes and only covering half of the area, it was time to fly over to the William Creek Pub for lunch. If you haven’t been to William Creek, the place is on the Oodnadatta Track and consists of a pub, a caravan park, and a house where a charter flight company operates out of to fly tourists over Lake Eyre who are driving along the Oodnadatta Track.
After lunch the pilot flew us over the South Lake and then back down across the desert and the Flinders Ranges. Lake Eyre may only get water to the levels we saw 3 or 4 times in ones lifetime, and to see it in its full glory was a sight we are glad we witnessed.