Heavy rainfall has seen water flowing into regions of South Australia’s Lake Eyre. The influx of moisture has been a boon for the countless plant and animal species that rely on the lake as a water source. The lake, which has seen its largest influx of water since 2011, borders the Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary. The Macumba River as well as the Warburton and Kallakoopah Creeks and are all waterways found within the sanctuary that play a key role in carrying water to the lake. The sudden abundance of moisture has transformed the lake and surrounding areas, creating a vibrant and spectacular location that is attracting tourists in greater numbers.
Staff from the Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary have surveyed the lake and surrounding areas from helicopter. Floodwater from the creeks, river and lake itself are bringing new life to the region. The influx of fresh water has seen new vegetation growth which has in turn attracted new bird life and even benefits certain species of small mammals, some of which are listed as threatened. Sanctuary staff are reporting more wildlife activity in response to the abundance of moisture, activity which may provided added incentive for tourists who may be planning to visit the area.
Increased Outback Tourism
The northern-most regions of South Australia also stand to benefit from the increased number of tourists that may visit the areas. Tourism, which has been sluggish in recent years, is expected to experience an awakening similar to the natural wildlife that is now thriving in response to the increased rainfall. One local pilot based at Williamson Creek who flies visitors over the lake has reported increased interest from fellow pilots who have expressed interest in visiting the region.
The tiny town of William Creek is located just over 800 kilometers north of Adelaide, and typically sees job numbers increase from about six to more than 20 during the height of tourism season. The increased rainfall and rejuvenated wildlife populations promise to have a very positive impact on the community.
History of the Lake
Lake Eyre, which is officially known as Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre, contains the lowest natural point on the continent. When full, the lake is also the largest in Australia. The last period of flooding the lake experienced took place from 2009 to 2011 and produced a peak flood depth of 1.5 meters. Elevated rainfall totals during the summer of 2010 sent flood water into the Georgina and Cooper Creek catchments of the basin and allowed cooper creek to reach the lake for the first time in 20 years. The floods also triggered an influx of migratory birds who use the area as a breeding ground.
One notable phenomenon that takes place on the lake following a flood occurs during midday, when the surface is very flat and able to reflect the sky in such a way that it becomes almost impossible to differentiate between the horizon and the lake’s surface. The Lake Eyre Yacht Club is a group of enthusiasts who sail on the lake following a flood. The group’s more recent trips took place in 2004, 2007 and 2009. Members of the Lake Eyre Yacht Club have stated that sailing on the lake during the midday creates the appearance of sailing in the sky.