Lake Eyre, also known as Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre, is located in the deserts of central Australia, in northern South Australia, 647 km north-east of Adelaide, in the state of South Australia.

Lake Eyre is divided into two sections which are joined by the Goyder Channel. These are known as Lake Eyre North, which is 144 kilometers (89 mi) in length and 65 kilometers (40 mi) wide, and Lake Eyre South, which measures 65 by 24 kilometers (40 by 15 mi).

Both lakes have a combined area of 9,690 square kilometers. Also, the lake, 12 m (39 feet) below sea level, is the continent’s lowest point.

Interesting Facts About Lake Eyre

At 1.2 million square kilometers, the Lake Eyre Basin covers almost 1/6 of Australia and is one of the world’s largest internally draining river systems.

The Lake Eyre Basin includes large parts of South Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and some of western New South Wales.

The lake was named in honor of Edward John Eyre (an English land explorer of the Australian continent), who was the first European to see it, in 1840.

It’s the largest salt lake in Australia, but one that only on rare occasions filled with water.

When empty, the lake becomes a giant salt pan, with white crystals reflecting the sunlight. This salt lake is the lowest point below sea level on the Australian mainland (15.2m below sea level).

Water from these three state catchment areas covers the lake about once every eight years.

lake eyre basin facts

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As the lake dries up and the water evaporates, its salinity increases and it often appears to turn pink. This is in fact caused by a pigment found within an algae species that lives in the lake.

When there’s water in the lake, waterbirds descend in the thousands, including silver gulls, pelicans, red-necked avocets, banded stilts and gull-billed terns. The lake becomes a breeding site, teeming with species that are tolerant of salinity.

Moreover, when the lake is full with water, an interesting phenomenon is that around midday the surface can frequently become very flat. The surface then reflects the sky in a way that leaves both the horizon and water surface virtually impossible to see.

The traditional owners of the region, the Arabana (or Urabunna) people, have lived in the Lake Eyre Basin for thousands of years.

When to visit the Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre lake

The best time to visit this magnificent lake is between April and October. If summer monsoon rains provide floodwaters locally or from Queensland, you have an increased probability to see water in the lake during these cooler months.

Visiting Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park requires a desert park pass, or an entry/camping permit. Both can be obtained in Marree and William Creek.

On 15 May 2018, water finally reached the lake, two months after falling in the upper Diamantina catchment in western Queensland, about 1,000km away. It hasn’t rained in the area for approximately 8 months, according to Trevor Wright, who operates an air service and the local pub.

Also, locals who have lived in South Australia’s outback for almost 3 decades say that they could not recall ever seeing the lake fill so late in the year.