Lake Eyre

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On the subject of driving ritzy cars, a couple of weeks ago I joined a group for a 1500km run across the South Australian Outback from Adelaide to Uluru (Ayers Rock) switching between three Audi SUVs, the Q5, Q7 and the new Q3.

None of them missed a beat and if I weren’t a starving freelance I would buy all three of them.

Courtesy of Audi and the South Australian Tourism Commission we saw the wineries of the lovely Clare Valley, stayed at the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna, drank the Prairie’s own Fargher Lager and indulged in their internationally famous feral mixed grill of emu, camel and kangaroo.

We sank a few coldies in the William Creek Hotel at William Creek, population 10, and visited the world’s only underground Orthodox Church at the opal mining town of Coober Pedy before heading for Voyages Ayers Rock Resort where Uluru worked its sunset magic.

But what sticks in my memory more than anything was a light aircraft flight with Wrightsair based in William Creek over the breathtaking phenomenon that is Lake Eyre. (Think Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.)

This enormous saltpan covering almost 10,000 square kilometers is usually so dry and flat, it was chosen by Donald Campbell for attempts at the land speed record which he finally set in 1964 at 648.73 km/h (403.10 mph).

It’s also the lowest point on the Australian continent and when the northwest summer monsoons drench northern Australia, the runoff flows slowly south and, if there’s enough of it, eventually reaches Lake Eyre which slowly fills with water into a huge, shallow inland sea regenerating dormant marine life and attracting thousands of birds from as far away as the coastline.

Lake Eyre has now flooded again for the fourth year in a row but it has been a short lived event and at the moment there’s a spectacular red algal bloom in the salty water which is expected to fade if more fresh water reaches the lake in June as expected. It doesn’t happen very often so I thought I’d share a few images from the ground and from the air.

Words and Images ©Copyright David May 2012 (Copyright Agency Limited)

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