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Tourists and feral animals flock to Lake Eyre as floodwaters end 1,000km journey

By Kath Sullivan and Deb O'Callaghan, Tuesday May 29, 2018 - 10:44 EST
ABC licensed image
Boats follow the floodwaters from Queensland to Lake Eyre. - ABC licensed

Rain that fell ago in north west Queensland has finally hit South Australia's Lake Eyre, attracting tourists and feral animals not seen there in years.

The floodwaters, which have in the Lake Eyre Basin as they travelled south, mark the end of the more than 1,000 kilometre outback trip.



William Creek publican Trevor Wright said the water provided significant environmental benefits and would boost the pastoral and tourism industries of northern South Australia.

Mr Wright, who has lived in South Australia's outback for almost 30 years, said he could not recall ever seeing Lake Eyre fill so late in the year.

"I think it is quirky, I haven't seen such a late entry into it," Mr Wright said

"We're in May and it's just starting out now. I would be quite a few decades since it has started off at this late in the year."



Floodwaters without local rain

Mr Wright, who also operates air service, flew over the floodwaters early this week.

He described the floodwaters at the heads as "a bluey, brackish, pinkish colour because of the saline water that is being flushed out of the creeks".

The waters have travelled close to a 1,000 kilometres northern Queensland, which flooded in early March.

"This type of floodwater, when you don't have local rains is unusual," Mr Wright said

"Normally you have local rain, but we haven't had any rain here for eight months.

"We're in semi-drought or drought conditions through the stations and towns up here, to see some water coming down through the Lake Eyre Basin and channel country is quite a surprise and refreshing and at the same time."

Things start to grow again




Mr Wright said camel numbers had increased across the region with the floodwaters, and he expected more wildlife to surface.

"You'll see the dingoes coming in and the birds picking up in numbers and the vegetation turning green, and starting to grow again.

"The only thing that might slow it down a bit is we're starting to get into lower temperatures. It's only 22 degrees here today."

Before the floodwater reached Lake Eyre, it cut a "trough" through Cowarie Station, on the Birdsville Track.

Pastoralist Chris Oldfield said the water had given Cowarie Station a six-month reprieve in what was shaping up as a tough year.

Mr Oldfield described the floodwater as an "unimaginable" amount of water.

"When you consider where it has come from, how much land it has actually covered it is amazing," Mr Oldifeld said.

"It's actually a bit louder than you'd think. I suppose if you can picture rushing water, it moves pretty fast, it swells around and makes a few rapids and actually makes a louder sound than I thought.

"Instead of destocking, we've been given an extra 4–6 months grace waiting for that bit of rain, it's very, very lucky,"

This time the floodwaters are good news



It took almost two months to the day for the floodwater to reach Cowarie from south of Mt Isa in the Boulia in north west Queensland.

"The river on Cowarie spans about 100km through the middle of the place so I guess you could say there's a 100km trough through the middle of Cowarie at the moment".

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy said it had been several years since Lake Eyre last had a flood of this magnitude.

The conservancy's Atticus Fleming said waters would encourage endangered species to the area — along with unwanted feral animals.

"The waterholes fill, the birds arrive, the insects arrive, there's a new flush of vegetation, all of that is great news is great for the endangered wildlife is central Australia."


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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