The Life of Lake Eyre

The Beautiful Explosion of Life

History of Lake Eyre

Lake Eyres' first official name was Kati-Thanda. It was known as Kati Thanda because the Aboriginals lived near the shores. Then in December of 2012 both the names were combined to make what it is known as now - Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. Lake Eyre was named after explorer Edward John Eyre, the first European to see it in 1840.


The first recorded filling was recorded in 1949.


In 1974 Lake Eyre then flooded to its maximum recorded level and had at that time a surface area of 9,649 square kilometre and a capacity of 30 cubic kilometres of water but remained 5 metres below sea level.

Land Features

  • It is the lowest natural point in Australia at approximately 15m below sea level.

  • Located in the deserts of central Australia – Northern South Australia.

  • Largest salt lake in Australia.

  • The Goyder Channel connects the lakes.

  • Together both lakes are 144km long and 77km wide.

  • Salt Lake: means when water evaporates and leaves a 15cm layer of salt.

  • Lake Eyre is usually a desert.


The amount of water from the monsoon determines if water will reach the lake and if it does how deep it will get. Monsoon is a seasonal prevailing wind in South-East Asia blowing Southwest between May and September and bringing rain.


  • Lake Eyre has typically a 1.5m flood occurs every 3 years.

  • A 4m flood occurs every decade.
  • A fill (or near) 4 times a century.


The water in the Lake soon evaporates by the end of the following summer.


  • 1.2 million square kilometers the Lake Eyre basin covers almost one sixth of the basin.

  • The climate has changed from wet to arid over the last 60 million years.

  • Most of the rivers in the Lake Eyre basin are now slow flowing, flat and completely dry for lengthy periods.

  • They all flow towards the lowest point in the basin, 15 metres below sea level, at Lake Eyre.

  • Lake Eyre Basin is lowest of any of the world's major drainage basins.

Aboriginal Dream Time Story

An old woman was hunting and saw a huge kangaroo in the distance. Wilkuda, a young boy jumped out of her belly and chased the kangaroo to the west. When his spear finally struck it he thought it was dead and put it on his fire and went to sleep. When he awoke the kangaroo had gone. Wilkuda tracked the kangaroo for many days. As he travelled, his path crossed that of an old man with his dog. The kangaroo was finally killed with the help of the dog and Wilkuda gave the old man the meat for he only wanted the skin. Wilkuda took the skin back to the east and, east of Anna Creek, he threw the skin down. The skin then changed, becoming Lake Eyre Wilkuda can still be seen as a boulder on the shore of the lake he made.


We can conclude from this that the Aboriginals respected and honoured the wildlife and creatures around them.


Mining and Irrigation are the greatest threats to the basin:

  • There are concerns that the bans aren't strict enough to protect Lake Eyre and people are still going out mining, creating a large threat to Lake Eyre.

  • There are plans to open up the Lake Eyre Basin, for further development, with mining projects bigger than Olympic Dam destined for the area.

Management Plan

We would like to take control out of the government's hands in order to prevent mining and irrigation from drying up Lake Eyre.


We would like to hand over control to the graziers considering they have been there so long and are rightful owners of the land.


We would also like to give control to the original landowners, the Aboriginals. This is because it is rightfully their land and they have been there longer than anyone else resulting in more knowledge than anyone.


We would like to give further power to tourist operators because they have more knowledge of the flooding seasons and they are aware of all the famous icons that Lake Eyre holds.


If we follow this management plan Lake Eyre will live on to be a safe and successful landmark for many generations to come.

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