Lake Eyre National Park

 

Lake Eyre National Park is about as far away from it all as you are likely to get in Australia or, for that matter, in most other countries of the world. The 13,492 square kilometres of the park is largely inaccessible, a stark, inhospitable wilderness where a vehicle breakdown can quickly develop into a life threatening situation.

 

Standing on the shore of the normally dry salt lake, many people experience an emotional response, sometimes fear, sometimes wonder or a sense of personal insignificance. This is a timeless, disorientating landscape, particularly when the horizon is lost in a shimmer of heat. Despite its vast size (some 8,000 square kilometres), Lake Eyre North, which includes the Elliot Price Conservation Park, is rarely seen by visitors except from passing aircraft.

 

On the infrequent occasions that the lake fills with water, Lake Eyre is a breeding ground for great masses of waterbirds which fly long distances to reach the newly arrived inflow of water. Water from its 3-State catchment area covers the lake about once every 8 years on average, but Lake Eyre has filled to capacity only 3 times in the past 150 years.

 

To camp in the park you must be in possession of a current Desert Parks Pass or a Day (24 hour) visit permit.

 

History

 

Fifty years ago, Lake Eyre was regarded as being permanently dry. Reports of sightings of water were thought to be the result of mirages. It was also wrongly believed that, if the lake ever did fill, the climate of the whole region would change.

 

The smooth, flat surface of the lake and its enormous size have made it an ideal site for a number of world land speed record attempts, notably the successful bid by Sir Donald Campbell in July 1964.

 

In 1974, after exceptional rainfalls in inland Australia, Lake Eyre was nearly 10 metres deep at Madigan Gulf with water flowing through the Goyder Channel from Lake Eyre South to Lake Eyre North.

 

Aboriginal Culture and History

 

Lake Eyre is a special place and, of course, it is the subject of a number of dreaming stories. Many of these stories are secrets of the local Aborigines who believe allowing them to be known by the uninitiated would threaten the land. One story of the Arabana people, explaining the creation of Lake Eyre, has many secret parts. Words and names mentioned in the accompanying songs can be used only by the initiated. You'll find the non-secret part of this story related in your Desert Parks Handbook, a detailed travel information handbook that, together with information brochures and colour travel maps, forms the information pack for the Desert Parks Pass.

 

Contact

 

Information on Lake Eyre National Park is available from the Desert Parks Information Line at Port Augusta (08) 8648 5328, the William Creek Hotel and commercial outlets at Marree.

 

Access

 

Access to Lake Eyre National Park is by either of 2 tracks. One starts approximately seven kilometres south-east of William Creek and runs to Halligan Bay via Armistice Bore and ABC Bay, a distance of 57 kilometres. The second runs 94 kilometres north from Marree to Level Post Bay via Muloorina Station. Both tracks cross pastoral properties and are suitable for 4WD vehicles only. Reserves of fuel, water and food must be carried. There are no public access tracks into Elliot Price Conservation Park.

 

Facilities

 

Camping areas are available at ABC Bay, Halligan Bay and near Muloorina Station, but there are no toilet/shower facilities at these sites. No bookings are required. Camping at Halligan Bay requires a $18 day permit. The camping area near Muloorina Station is via a donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. A campground with toilet/shower facilities is situated at Coward Springs, 130 kilometres west of Marree on the Oodnadatta Track.

 

Several local tour operators operate sightseeing flights over the lake, particularly when it is flooded. These light aircraft flights offer visitors a convenient and comfortable way of appreciating the vastness of Lake Eyre.

 

Caring for the Park

 

Please Do:

 

>> Obtain a current Desert Parks Pass or camping permit
>> Indiscriminate off-road vehicle damage
>> Always carry sufficient fuel, water and food
>> Travel in convoy with another vehicle if possible
>> Take a portable stove for cooking
>> Avoid polluting water or disturbing stock
>> Camp away from troughs to allow stock and native animals access to water
>> Respect gates and private roads
>> Leave gates as you found them

 

Please Do Not:

 

>> Drive on the lake surface
>> Bury rubbish (instead, bag it and carry it out with you)
>> Light a camp fire (Use gas fires only)
>> Carry a firearm unless it is dismantled
>> Carry any equipment or device for taking animals
>> Remove or disturb artifacts or remnants of Aboriginal and European occupation
>> Wash close to water supplies (soap or detergent will pollute them)

 

 

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