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Lifestyle : Discover Lake Eyre 2012
1HERSA1 U002 www.outbackspirittours.com.au All fares include Australian GST. All tours operated by Outback Spirit Tours Pty Ltd. ACN 006 972 130. Licensed Travel Agent 2TA4575. EM_120342_SH Specialists in escorted outback travel 6 Day Lake Eyre March 2012 6 days $3,595 Departures commence April 2012 One of the most significant rain events in 30 years drenched an enormous area of Australia in early March, from the Red Centre all the way to the East Coast and between. In South Australia, widespread rainfall totals saw many rivers and creeks burst their banks and rise to major flood levels, with much of the floodwater destined for Lake Eyre. The Lake is now flooding for a remarkable 4th consecutive year. This 6 day tour to see Lake Eyre in flood INCLUDES: • 2 sensational scenic flights to see Lake Eyre North and South, the Warburton Creek and the Cooper Creek aboard Cessna Grand Caravan with unrivalled Jet Turbine reliability • 4WD tour and ecology walk on Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary, a 1.7 million acre wilderness reserve operated by the AWC on the northern shore of Lake Eyre • Wilpena Pound & the Flinders Ranges • Bunyeroo and Brachina Gorges • 4WD tour to the edge of Lake Eyre. This 6 day tour is fully accommodated in quality hotels and fully inclusive of all meals and attraction fees. Enjoy travelling in a small group of only 26 passengers aboard a luxurious 5-star 4WD Terrain Mercedes Benz coach (guaranteed). The tour is also fully escorted by an expert 2-person crew. Earth, Eyre and water The rains came down and the tourist numbers came up, writes Katrina Lobley. He's been flooded with a deluge of visitors mad-keen on seeing the lake. Wing it . . . Lake Eyre is a spectacle in full food. Photo: Steve Parish Lake Eyre isn't the only thing in the South Australian outback to be hit with a deluge of late. Ever since the lake flooded in 2009 for the first time since the 1970s, life has been a bit crazy for the pilot at William Creek, Trevor Wright. He has been flooded with a deluge of visitors mad- keen on seeing the water-filled lake from the air. William Creek, west of Lake Eyre North, normally has a population of three (Wright plus whoever's running the William Creek Hotel down the road). The Oodnadatta Track runs past Wright's house, separating it from the airstrip. In dry years, travellers might pull over to have a coldie in the pub and to inspect the rocket remains (courtesy of the Woomera rocket range) in the park opposite. If they're sick of the sight of straight, red-dirt roads, they might spend the night in a place that's about as true-blue outback as you get. But for the past three years, as water has travelled down through the Channel Country to flood the lake on an annual basis, people have made a beeline to William Creek to see the transformation of what's usually an enormous dazzling-white salt pan. With the water comes birdlife -- thousands of pelicans, banded stilts and gulls settle on islands within the lake and around the tributaries to breed. At the height of last year's season, Wright called in 20 light aircraft and 22 pilots to help deal with the surge of visitors. ''It's your mums and dads, and retired people who have got a bucket list,'' Wright says of his mostly Australian passengers. ''The lake is going on this bucket list and they want to see it. I think it's reached that stage now where it's becoming iconic.'' Things have been just as hectic on the ground, even though it's harder to grasp the lake's vast expanse or to see much birdlife from the lake's two vantage points: Level Post Bay and Halligan Bay (both at Lake Eyre North). In a dry year, each site receives about 2500 visitors. Desert Parks district ranger Tony Magor says each received about 12,500 visitors last year. With Lake Eyre South now almost full (thanks to extraordinary local rains that also greened the countryside) and Lake Eyre North about 70 per cent full, this year is set to be another busy one for Wright and operators running other scenic flights from places such as Marree, Hawker, Arkaroola and Wilpena Pound in South Australia, and from as far afield as Brisbane. Easter school holidays mark the start of the outback touring season, which usually continues until October. Magor, however, isn't sure how long water will stick around this year -- so he's advising people to go sooner rather than later. ''Unless something drastically changes, this Editor Angie Kelly. Picture research Judith Love. Cover picture by Peter Elfes. The Green Desert exhibition (A journey to Lake Eyre, by award-winning photographer Elfes) is showing at Customs House, Circular Quay, Sydney, untilJuly 12. Monday to Friday, 10am-7pm; Saturday to Sunday, 11am-4pm; free entry. 2 SUNDAY, APRIL 8, 2012 THE SUN HERALD LAKE EYRE SPECIAL REPORT
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