Ilya Genkin Fine Art Landscape Photography, Travel Photography

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Kati Thanda - Lake Eyre

South Australia (SA), Australia


Lake Eyre, officially known as Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, contains the lowest natural point in Australia, at approximately 15 m (49 ft) below sea level, and, on the rare occasions that it fills, is the largest lake in Australia, covering 9,500 km2 (3,668 sq mi). The shallow endorheic lake is the depocentre of the vast Lake Eyre basin and is found in Northern South Australia, some 700 km (435 mi) north of Adelaide. When the lake is full, it has the same salinity level as the sea, but as the lake dries up and the water evaporates, salinity increases. The lake was named by Europeans in honour of Edward John Eyre, who was the first European to see it, in 1840. The lake's official name was changed in December 2012 to combine the name 'Lake Eyre' with the indigenous name, Kati Thanda. The native title over the lake and surrounding region is held by the Arabana people.

Located north of the Oodnadatta Track in a dry and isolated environment, the lake, is a mind-blowingly vast, dry expanse of shimmering salt in the South Australian outback. On cloudless days, the reflections become so remarkable that it can be difficult to distinguish between land and sky. Lake Eyre is actually divided into two sections: Lake Eyre North and Lake Eyre South. These sections are joined by the narrow Goyder Channel. Most of the time Lake Eyre is covered by an immense dry salt pan. This immense expanse of salt crusts reflects the rays of the fierce outback sun, creating a harsh, scintillating glare that reminds one of an alien landscape. The surface of the lake is 15 metres below sea level. The salt crust is up to 250 cm thick. The surrounding area is covered by gibber stones and the whole area is walled in by red dunes.

In 1964 the salt crust was thick enough to allow Sir Donald Campbell to race his jet-powered Bluebird-Proteus CN7 car and successfully reach the world land speed record of 648.73 kilometres per hour (403.10 miles per hour) on 17 July 1964. Lake Eyre has only been full of water seven times since European settlement. In 1974-77 flooding rains in Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia filled Lake Eyre with water. In that period the waters of the lake stretched for a length of 140 km and the depth of the floodwaters reached a record height of 6 metres (20 ft).