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Lifestyle : Lake Eyre
1HERSA1 U002 Specialists in escorted outback travel N N N NSW Q Q Q QL LD D SA 1 1 1 2 Port Augusta Wilpena Pound Burra Lake Eyre North Lake Eyre South Lake Torrens Parachilna Birdsville Adelaide Marree Warburton Creek Macumba River Coope r Creek Flinders Ranges Simpson Desert Regional Reserve Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary Goyder Lagoon Murray River 4WD TOUR Lake Eyre Miracle 6 days $3,395 Frequent departures May to November 2011 No one showcases Lake Eyre like Outback Spirit! Record breaking rain and floods are transforming Lake Eyre into an inland sea for the 3rd consecutive year. Desert Rivers have turned into raging waterways, delivering massive volumes of water to the lake. Both the Eyre Creek and the Diamantina River are in full flood as a result of staggering rainfall totals around Birdsville and Bedourie. The Cooper Creek is also in flood, and the Macumba and Neales Rivers have been flowing in from the west due to local rain. Lake Eyre is currently 2 metres deep, but with several floods heading to the lake it is expected to reach at least 5 metres -- its highest depth since 1974. It may even fill to the top! Outback Spirit is running a 6 day tour from Adelaide to Lake Eyre for the 2011 season. The tour includes a visit to the lake s edge and 2 scenic flights aboard a modern Turboprop aircraft, the Cessna Grand Caravan (more details on opposite page). Don t miss your opportunity to see this unique flood event of Lake Eyre. Touring Inclusions ■ 5 nights of excellent ensuite accommodation (the best available) ■ All meals for the duration of the tour, including lunches ■ Travel aboard all terrain 5-star Mercedes Benz Coaches ■ Services of a professional 2-person crew ■ Travel in a small group -- maximum 26 passengers ■ 2 Scenic Flights aboard a 'state of the art Turbine Aircraft -- the Cessna Grand Caravan. Aircraft is owned by Outback Spirit ■ 4WD tour on Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary ■ Off road tour to the edge of Lake Eyre www.outbackspirittours.com.au All fares quoted are per person, twin share, land content only. Lake Eyre tour includes 2 scenic flights. All fares include Australian GST. All tours operated by Outback Spirit Tours Pty Ltd. ACN 006 972 130. Licensed Travel Agent 2TA4575. EM110512SUNH 2 SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2011 THE SUN-HERALD lake eyre special report The big wet The country's dry heart has come to life, offering rare and spectacular sights. Lee Atkinson discovers why seeing Lake Eyre by air is a brilliant way to enjoy a flood. THERE'S an aeroplane traffic jam in the outback outpost of Marree. We've landed on the tiny bush airstrip, almost 700 kilometres north of Adelaide in the middle of, well, nowhere to refuel but there's a queue of aircraft ahead of us, nowhere for us to park and the man in charge is not happy. We can't quite hear what he has to say over the roar of propellers but his body language is easy to interpret as he waves his arms furiously at our pilot. He wants us to take off again, quick smart; not such an easy thing to do when you're out of aircraft fuel and the nearest tank of it is hundreds of kilometres away. Our pilot, Bonny, ignores him and edges our 10-seater plane through a tiny gap, our wingtips squeezing past the jumble of small planes to find a space where she can wait and sweet talk her way to a tank of fuel. Some planes are here to ferry miners to nearby gas and oilfields but most are here to fly over Lake Eyre. Billed as a ''once in a lifetime'' event, the normally dry Lake Eyre has filled to capacity just three times in the past 150 years. However, this is the third year in a row that the lake has had large amounts of water. Parks South Australia says this year will be bigger than 2009 and 2010 and should be the best year in decades. Millions of pelicans, gulls, terns, cormorants, black swans and other birds are arriving to gorge themselves on fish in a feeding and breeding frenzy as the largest lake in Australia begins to fill and it's drawing tourists from across the country. Apart from one couple from Adelaide, all others on our two-day flight-seeing tour have flown from Sydney and Perth just to see the lake in flood. Right now, it's about 80 per cent full, with more water to come: the flooded Cooper Creek flow is not expected to reach the lake for another two months and it's likely to stay fairly full for at least 12 months, although that's just a rough guess. There's a bit of mystery surrounding Lake Eyre. Scientists are still at a loss to explain exactly how multitudes of birds that appear at the newly arrived body of water, some from as far away as China and Japan, know that the lake is filling and the fish are spawning. There's also myth here, including the stories of the savage Kudimudra, a bunyip-like beast that eats anyone who strays into the lake. The railway siding on the Old Ghan line, Curdimurka, is named after the beast -- but locals say he hasn't been seen since the last Curdimurka Ball in 2000. I've been here several times before but only when the lake is dry, camping on the edge of a vast, shimmering plain of bright white salt. Add water and all that changes. Roads to campgrounds and vantage points close when it rains and even if roads are open, you can't drive to the water's edge; the lake bed looks firm but it's a thin crust that covers quicksand-like mud that will swallow you, or your vehicle, quicker than you can say ''Kudimudra''. When full, the lake is not a place for fishing, boating and swimming. You can't fish because the big ones worth eating, such as the yellow belly (Lake Eyre golden perch) that come down the rivers from Queensland die once they hit the salty water. (If you want to fish, you're better off trying your luck in the waterholes around Innamincka.) The only fish to thrive in the brine are salt-tolerant species such as the Lake Eyre hardyhead, a tiny fish that seldom grows larger than Flights with longer tours A three-day fly-stay package from Sydney to Lake Eyre priced from $2875 a person, twin share, includes Birdsville Hotel and Coober Pedy accommodation. 1800 815 906, australianairholidays.com. A four-day fly-stay package from Adelaide priced from $1750 a person, takes in Lake Eyre, Coober Pedy and Copley, and includes accommodation and meals. Conditions apply. 1800 618 876, lakeeyretours.com.au. Two flights over Lake Eyre are included in six-day tour priced from $3395 a person, twin share, from Adelaide, including Marree accommodation, meals, entry fees and touring Kalamurina, a wildlife sanctuary owned by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. 1800 688 222, outbackspirittours.com.au.
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