The floods that devastated Queensland earlier in January have breathed new life into the Southern desert, filling the Lake Eyre basin with water in a way not seen for 45 years!
The Lake Eyre region in South Australia is a unique desert river system. Covering one-sixth of Australia, the river supports diverse wildlife and over 60,000 people. However, due to lack of rainfall, the basin has been largely dry for the last 4 decades. But now the Queensland floods have flowed over 1000km across the Channel Country and have started filling the Lake Eyre basin, reviving this natural wonderland.
There’s already been a noticeable increase in bird and marine life, as the running river allows for the natural ecosystem to bloom once again, providing much-needed water for farmers. It’s as though a miracle’s occurred – waterways are bringing some of the most arid parts of Australia back to life, with vegetation and wildlife blooming in typically dry areas like the Simpson Desert.
‘You need these rivers to run free – run unregulated and the way they are.’
– Don Rowlands
Tourism has increased to the region, with flight tours over Williams Creek allowing for people to catch a glimpse of the rare natural event.
The refilling of Lake Eyre has also served as a reminder of the importance of leaving river systems undisturbed and allowing its natural flow. In a 7.30 Report article Indigenous elder and chief ranger for the Munga Thirri National Park, Don Rowlands, states ‘You need these rivers to run free – run unregulated and the way they are.’ He warns against ‘interference upstream’ as it will result in the water not flowing the whole way through as it should.
The natural ecosystem is important, but attempts at gas mining and fracking are putting it at risk. The phenomenon is not only a stunning feat of nature but an integral part of the natural cycle of these river systems. The question is, how much more can it take?
Feature image thanks to NASA
Would you cross the desert?