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The ever-changing beauty of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre

Located right in the middle of The Outback Loop is Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre — Australia’s biggest lake and the world’s thirteenth largest when full to the brim.

The usually dry lake system is a stunning spectacle at the best of times, but recent flood waters have meant the lake and the surrounding desert areas have undergone a dramatic transformation.

Water from tropical cyclone Trevor combined with the wet season rains in outback Queensland is flowing through a network of rivers, creeks and streams that currently has the lake more than a third full with levels expected to reach a peak next month — the highest since 1974. It is one of those once-in-a-lifetime events that everyone should see.

The whole outback area just comes alive. The floodplain that has already received water is bursting with life and has sparked a rare, vibrant greening of the desert attracting thousands of birds including Australian pelicans, gulls, sandpipers, terns, and more to an area that’s usually among the driest, most inhospitable places on earth.

Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre has been identified by BirdLife International as an ‘Important Bird Area’ because it acts as a significant breeding ground for many bird populations. Incredibly, small fish and crustaceans are usually found in Lake Eyre too and provide an important food source for the migratory birds.

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The tiny Oodnadatta Track township of William Creek consisting of an outback pub and an airstrip is the closest town to the lake and is about 700 km north of Adelaide.

Trevor Wright, publican, pilot and Wrightsair owner, takes tourists in to see Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre in both dry and wet conditions.

“The speed and volume of this year’s floodwaters had been much greater than expected. When you see the water eventually making its way to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, across dry clay soils, filling all those little cracks and rivulets across the expanse of the lake, it’s nothing short of a miracle,” he noted.

Depending on the time of the year you go, the outback lake region can either look amazing with flowering native plants and greenery or absolutely devastated because of the lack of rain. But because there is water the lake, the time to visit The Outback Loop and take a flight over Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is right now.

Just be sure to check the road conditions before you go.

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