Lake Eyre – Australia’s largest lake or largest saltpan
Turning off the Oodnadatta track I head towards Lake Eyre north to the Halligan Bay campground. Lake Eyre occurs in Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre national park and is the largest lake in Australia and also the lowest point at 15 meters below sea level. It has only filled up 3 times in the last 150 years. Otherwise it remains a dry saltpan or has the odd filling every several years. The track can be pretty badly corrugated in sections. I dropped my tyre pressures down a little to help soften the ride. The track passes through a cattle property so there were quite a few livestock around near a spring fed dam.
A good distance in I come to a memorial to Caroline Grossmueller, an Austrian tourist who died here in 1998 after the 4wd her partner and her were using got bogged in soft sand at the campgrounds. After 4 days waiting for rescue with no one coming, she attempted to walk back out to William Creek hotel only making it halfway before dying of heat exposure, with summer temperatures at the time over 40 degrees Celsius. The couple had plenty of food and water to survive for weeks in their car along with a large full water tank at the campgrounds, but chose to walk instead of wait.
The landscape changes from sandy to a gibber plain, very much like a moonscape.
I eventually come to a fork in the road and take a quick detour to ABC Bay, which is basically a bay named after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who did some filming there some years back when the lake was full.
Back out I head in to Halligan Bay campgrounds. There were pit toilets and shelters available with plenty of campground area.
I walked down to the dry lakes edge with the gleaming surface of the salt lake shining in the midday sun. I was expecting more salt on top, but was more of a muddy sediment crust. When I pushed my hand down hard into the crust I could break through the surface into the moist black clay and sandy ooze. It is illegal to drive on the lake for good reason. If you were to drive on it and break through the top crust the car would sink into the ooze and be impossible to recover without external help. I camped here 2 nights, the first alone and the second with several 4wd’s. The sunrises and sunsets were quite magical with plenty of colours stretching up in to space, from reds, yellows oranges then into space blue.