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Lake Eyre – an inland sea in the middle of Australia

Lake Eyre is not the name for only one lake, it is actually the combination of two lakes, North and South Lake Eyre, which are joined by the 15km long Goyder Channel.

Kati Thanda Lake Eyre National Park

Kati Thanda Lake Eyre

The first European to discover the lake was Edward John Eyre and the lake was named after him. However for the local indigenous people, the lake was always called Kati Thanda.

In December 2012 the official name was changed  to Kati Thanda Lake Eyre National Park and is managed by the Arabana people and representatives of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

Unique patterns of Lake Eyre

Largest Salt Lake in Australia

Lake Eyre North and Lake Eyre South cover an area of 9690 square kilometres. The two salt pans are the lowest areas of the drainage system called Lake Eyre Basin. This basin covers well over 1.1 million square kilometres.

Kati Thanda is also the lowest point below sea level in Australia. While the shoreline is around 9 metres below sea level, the deepest section is found at Belt Bay and Madigan Gulf measuring 15.2 metres.

Rivers flowing into Lake Eyre

Channel Country

There are plenty of rivers connected to Lake Eyre, however it takes  a lot of rain to get them flowing and actually filling the lake. Main rivers are the Diamantina River, the Cooper Creek, the Georgina River , the Warburton and the Macumba.

Local rain also adds to flood events but its the rivers that keep Kati Thanda full. Lake Eyre has no outlet but water evaporates due to high outback temperatures and river water disappear into the desert floor.

Sunrise Flight over Lake Eyre

Flooding Events

Researches have shown that a minor flood occurs every 2 to 3 years and a major flood every 10 years. The wet and dry periods in this arid desert environment are very unpredictable. Therefor which river flows and possibly brings water to the lake varies. Flood waters can take 3 to 10 months to reach Kati Thanda.

Floods happened in 1886-87, 1889-1890, 1916-17, 1950, 1955, 1974-77, 1999-2001, 2004, 2007 and 2009-2012. We have seen some water, mainly in North Lake Eyre and in the northern rivers in Jan, April and May 2015; Jan, Feb, April and August 2016. In strong La Nina years the lake can fill and who really knows, a huge flooding event could just be around the corner.

Birds breeding on the shorelines of Lake Eyre

Important Bird Area

The variety of plants and animals are driven by flood events. As the waterholes and rivers fill, the desert magically comes back to life. Algae, invertebrates, frogs and fish multiply, grasses and wildflowers bloom. Several millions of birds make their way to Lake Eyre and you can find well over 80 bird species in the area.

The Australian Pelican, Banded Stilt, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Silver Gulls, Red-necked Avocets and Caspian Terns are some of the birds found here. Birds will breed in huge numbers side by side in response to the abundant water and food resource. Once the lake dries, birds and other animals move to waterholes. Plant and animal populations keep declining, birds will  eventually migrate.

A Channel Country

Best time to see Lake Eyre

Many people ask us when it is the best time to visit Kati Thanda Lake Eyre. The best way to see the area is from the air, which is possible all year. Only during a scenic flight do you get to understand the expanse, vastness and remoteness. And only from a bird’s eye view can you witness the multiple colours and patterns.

Scenic flights and tours are available pretty much every day, but keep in mind the high summer temperatures in the Australian Outback. The hottest months are December, January and February. No matter what time of the year, travelling to the Australian Outback takes good preparation, sufficient water and food supply, a reliable 4WD vehicle and adequate equipment.

Visit Kati Thanda Lake Eyre

Join one of our fabulous group tours to Lake Eyre or let us tailor a private Lake Eyre Tour for you or your group.

Experience Kati Thanda Lake Eyre when it is dry and when it is wet. Spectacular transformations occur and you can witness unique differences in it’s appearance.


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South Australia

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