The Lake started filling around Christmas 2009, and has had almost continuous water flowing into it since. The last two monsoon seasons have been very wet, and with the ground still saturated from the previous year, this year's wet has had the effect of almost filling the Lake.
The water in the Lake is saltier than the ocean. However the water which comes in from the rivers is fresh water, and at first does mix. There is a clear embarkation line between the fresh and salt water. The fresh water is darker than the salt water, which is bright blue.
The fresh water coming in from the northern rivers creates a channel down the Lake.
These two photos also show how difficult it was to see the horizon. We were told that more than one plane has gone down in the water.
Once we had crossed the Lake, we turned NNE, which took us from the southern end of Lake Eyre North, to the northern part, whence we headed NNW till we came to the northern shores where the great rivers flow in.
On that course we flew over a small island at the mouth of one of the inlets (there are many islands in the Lake), which is a pelican rookery. As the plane approached, the noise made many of the birds take off in flight.
Pelicans in flight.
Of course I do not have the sophisticated photographic equipment which would have shown them much clearer - the way we saw them.
We were now over the channel country, where all the water from the monsoons comes down from the Northern Territory, inland Queensland and outback New South Wales. These channels form the rivers, which flow into the Lake.
The largest of these are the Cooper Creek and the Warburton River.
Typical channel country.
It takes months for the water to come down from the north before it actually flows into Lake Eyre. The Warburton River effectively drains most of the top end. There is still a large volume of water coming down the Cooper which will not arrive till around the middle of July. We were told that it could have a significant effect on the water level in the Lake - which by the way, is as big as the country of Holland.
All too soon the two hours were up, and we were on our way back to William Creek, at an altitude of 1500'. As we were flying over Anna Creek Station, Sarah was telling us why the mustering this year was late, and why it almost did not happen at all. With all the water which has been coming down, the ground was just too soft to use the ATVs, without getting bogged. The mustering had to be done on horseback, the way it always was. Problem was, they had great difficulty in finding sufficient cattlemen who were skilled enough to ride the outback country. It has become a lost art.
Sarah put down the plane ever so gently on the outback airstrip.
William Creek airport.
As we stepped out of the Cessna one of my fellow passengers was heard to say, "Worth every cent of it!"
[Quite early on I gave up on trying to take perfect pictures, with the horizon level and without parts of the plane included. With Sarah zigzagging and circling over the lake and rivers, that was impossible.]
If you would like to see more of the pictures I took, go to my album, Flight over Lake Eyre.