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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Heading to Lake Eyre

True to the weather forecasts, the rain started again on our last night at Wilpena. It was forecast to continue for a couple of days, with a window of two mostly sunny days before the next lot of rain. Obviously it would be no fun driving up the Oodnadatta Track to Lake Eyre South and camping in the tent overnight in the rain, so we were watching the weather websites closely as we took a few days to travel the couple of hundred kilometres to Lyndhurst, where we would leave the caravan. The upside of a few days of rain was to get us caught up on photos and the blog (that’s when I did the last blog) and some interesting sunsets through breaks in the clouds.

As we left Lyndhurst on Wednesday morning it was still cloudy, but seemed to be clearing. The further north we went the better the weather became. We knew we were in the outback as we camped at the beginning of the Strzelecki Track in Lyndhurst, passed the beginning of the Birdsville track in Marree and travelled the first 100kms of the Oodnadatta Track.

Most of our trip followed the old Ghan railway line, with with relics of days gone by at intervals along the way. One local has created a number of sculptures on his property which added further interest to the trip.

Much of the landscape is flat, but the effects of water can be clearly seen in dips and hollows that obviously become raging torrents when the rains come.

We had lunch at the Lake Eyre South lookout, and went for a walk down to the lake. When we had first glimpsed the lake it seemed like the water was not too far from the track, but further on at the lookout the water was a long, long way away. After visiting the Pink Lakes in NSW a few months ago we were expecting to be able to walk out on a salt crust, but the recent rain had left the crust soggy.

Even though the lake is usually dry when it has water in it there are fish! Lake Eyre South only has water from local rain over the last few months, not from flows coming from further north, making this even more amazing. As the water evaporates, though, it’s hard for them to survive.

We decided to go back to where the water was closer to the road to find a camp spot for the night, following 4WD tracks off the road and towards a knoll. Not only did this give us a better view, but also some protection from the wind. It was a great camp spot, on the edge of Lake Eyre, with a full moon and a lingering sunset.

The next morning we woke before sunrise to a perfectly calm and clear day. As we enjoyed porridge by the camp fire the cloud once again started to accumulate, but the wind didn’t come up. We had a great couple of hours enjoying the reflections and playing mind games with the invisible horizon.

The wheel tracks weren’t ours – we’re not that stupid – but loved the way they seem to disappear into the clouds.

Are the seagulls on the horizon, or standing on the water’s edge?

And my personal favourite, ‘island in the sky’.