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Lake Eyre begins filling with Queensland floodwaters as Birdsville roads reopen

Monday March 18, 2019 - 11:36 EDT

The parched landscape of outback South Australia is being rejuvenated by floodwaters that are now beginning to trickle into Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre.



Floodwaters from north Queensland have travelled about 1,000 kilometres to reach the ephemeral water source via the Channel Country.

William Creek charter pilot Trevor Wright said the speed and volume of the water had been greater than expected.

He said water had started to go into the northern end of the lake after filling Goyder Lagoon closer to Queensland.

He said pelicans and black ducks were already arriving in the area, along with boaties keen to make the most of the rare occurrence.

"There's definitely more birdlife that's really starting to appear and I'd expect in the next few weeks or few months quite a considerable increase along that Diamantina floodplain," he said.

Mr Wright said the water was travelling at 2–3 kilometres per hour in places.

"It has got some positives for the pastoralists on the floodplains and hopefully it'll increase the amount of tourism in South Australia and employment," he said.



Yacht club to host regatta

The Lake Eyre Yacht Club will host a four-day regatta next month on the Warburton River, which feeds the usually dry salt lake.

Club Commodore Bob Backway predicted it would be the river's biggest flood since 1991.

"You get every type of inland and sea waterbird there," he said.

"Just sailing through the desert and you're on the only water in the desert means that there'll be dingoes seen everyday coming for a drink, kangaroos, wildflowers start popping up."



Commodore Bob Backway said it would be spectacular, but admitted his thoughts were with those devastated by the floods in Queensland.

"We always spare a thought for the people who have been inconvenienced by the same flood further north," he said.

"From the top end of the Lake Eyre catchment to the top of the Gulf of Carpentaria, that's just been devastating, huge cattle losses, so yeah, we'll be talking about that."



Birdsville isolation ending

The town of Birdsville in Queensland's far west is more than 300 kilometres from Lake Eyre but some access roads remain cut off by floodwaters.

Birdsville Hotel general manager Ben Fullagar said waters were receding, and roads were now reopening.

He said the town was completely isolated for about two-and-a-half weeks by a "huge expanse of water".

"From a flood like this we'll see a positive impact throughout the entire tourist season, so right through until we go into the warmer months again," he said.

"We had plenty of time to prepare and we ordered a huge amount of stock in.

"We've got plenty of beer in stock … that was the very first thing we put on the truck."



Mr Fullagar said the water had reached a depth of 8 metres in the Diamantina River, and the town's airstrip had been especially busy bringing in tourists.

"We've had a huge increase in aviation traffic in and out of Birdsville of people just coming to see what they haven't seen in their lifetimes before — that amount of water coming down through the Channel Country," he said.

"It's nature at its absolute finest."

The South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure said outback roads closed because of flooding included the Birdsville Track from Mungeranie to the Queensland border, the Birdsville Inside Track from Pandie Pandie Station to the Queensland border, and Cordillo Downs Road from the Arrabury turn-off to the Queensland border.


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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