Mildura Weekly : Friday June 24 Vol 10 No 33
18 NEWS MILDURA WEEKLY FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2016 BY REX ELLIS with Grant Maynard SINCE the start of this year, the north of South Australia has experienced some big rain events. This has caused the creeks and rivers to the west and north of Lake Eyre to flood into the lake bed, partially covering the surface of what is usually 4000 square miles of ‘noth- ingness.’ For the first time since 1974, the War- burton Creek (or River – it is known by both names) ran with local, South Australian wa- ter, rather than Queensland water. The flood filled waterholes, swamps, and for several months continued to run into the Lake. However, this was just a drop in the ocean, compared with 1974 when I rode a massive flood down the Warburton, and crossed a full Lake Eyre. That was the only time this has been pos- sible, before or since. And that was the only time that the lake, known as Kati Thanda in the local indigenous language, has actually filled to overflowing during our country’s European history. I have been an outback guide for 50 years, and it was one of the most surreal and excit- ing experiences I have ever had; and I have had a few! For me to operate my ‘Boats to Lake Eyre’ trips, I require ‘Queensland water’ to make the Warburton navigable; enough for me to make the 140-kilometre journey between the Tirari and Simpson Deserts, to the lake. And, and perhaps more importantly, to get back again. I take around eight days to do this, and without a doubt, it is one of the world’s great adventure experiences. Plenty of risks as an operator, but after 28 trips up and down this river, including its Simpson Desert anabranch – the Kallakoopah Creek – I have pretty much sorted them out. I had almost given up on these trips this year, when Winton, in western Queensland hadalargedumpofrain–upto175mm–to- ward end of March, causing a small ‘pulse’ to start down the Diamantina River, and through the channel country. This eventually crossed the border near Birdsville, and flowed on down to the massive Goyder’s Lagoon Swamp which was almost full of SA water from the recent heavy rains. So, after a hiatus of five years, I was in the des- The Mildura Weekly’s favourite adventurer has been at it again...this time using floodwaters to Rivers of sand...well, most • NOT MUCH TO SEE: A dry Lake Eyre, TOP, is a pretty barren place, but it comes alive when you start to add water, ABOVE, and when you add even more water, RIGHT, the waterways that feed it become navigable.
Friday June 17 Vol 10 No 32
Friday July 1 Vol 10 No 34