Our Lake Eyre Adventure

by Nigel Wheeler
(Meadow Heights, Vic.)

May Day! May Day! May 1 was the beginning of our first real "outback adventure". We had driven to "The Alice" before, thru southern NSW and up to the Gold coast, but never into the real outback.

We left Melbourne and headed west for Adelaide. The weather was good for the time of year, but as soon as we hit the S.A. border, we ran into persistent rain showers which lasted all the way to Adelaide.
We overnighted at a motel in North Adelaide so as to be on the "right side" of town for an early getaway to Coober Pedy. Avoiding the rush hour, we had a smooth run thru to Port Augusta where we had breakfast.

lake eyre

Coober Pedy, here we come. An uneventful and relaxed trip up the Stuart Highway saw us in Coober Pedy just before dusk. A quick walk around town, where we had been 11 yrs previous, saw many changes.
Curb and channeling, street lights and security cameras, and the massive new developments as you enter the town. How things change!! Sadly, some of the "outback charm" we saw previously seems lost, but life has to move on.

Sunday, my birthday. Just after sun rise we were heading for William Creek where we were to camp for 3 nights while we did our Lake Eyre adventure. Generally, the road to WC was in excellent condition, a few rough patches here and there but nothing too serious for our 2005 Outlander to worry about.

An excellent run saw us in WC around 10.30am. We spent the rest of our day setting up camp, and discovering the immediate surrounds. The old Ghan rail line and telegraph relics abound. Night fell, and as we watched the sky full of twinkling stars, we roasted chestnuts on our camp stove.

After breakfast on a cool, fresh Monday dawn, with glorious sunrise, we drove a short distance on the Oodnadatta Track and walked in the desert sands. We could have been a million miles from anywhere!

2pm saw us back at WC in readiness for our flight over Lake Eyre. While waiting for our flight a group of horses and riders appeared and stopped at the flight ops. building. Apparently this was part of the preparation for the Outback Muster that happens later in the year.

Eventually, we boarded our flight and headed off for Lake Eyre.

At this point, it becomes to difficult to express our amazement at the sights below us, and the growing excitement as we see the first outline of LE on the horizon. We headed up, over the lake to the north where the tributaries come in.

Our 2 hour trip was such an amazing experience that words can't describe the beauty of what we saw. Eventually we touched down, and even though our feet were firmly on the ground, spiritually we were on an amazing high!

To cap it off, as we walked back to our camp site, there was an amazing jet stream high in the sky, and as the 'plane changed course, you could clearly see the small image of the jet.

Tuesday, was our day to drive to Lake Eyre. Another cool, clear day and after a hearty breakfast we were off. Checking in at the NP station, and paying the small fee, yes folks, pay the fee, because it will be the best money you spend for some time.

The sun shone, the sky was clear, and we were away. The road was generally in excellent condition with just a few spots where we were going about 3kph because of the corrugations, and we hit ABC Bay in about an hour and a half. We had made it!!

Half an hour later and we headed for Halligan Bay. To our great surprise, there are neat, clean modern toilets and sheltered areas to eat. After a visit to the loo, we headed straight for the lake...we can eat later!

We removed our shoes and socks, walked out over the salt laden crusty edge of the lake.
A few more steps, and our feet started to sink into the ooze. A few more steps, and we were STANDING in Lake Eyre up to our ankles in the clear salt water. We were paddling in Lake Eyre!!! After half an hour or so, we headed to land, washed our feet and had something to eat.
We wandered back to the lake's edge for a final look, returned to our car, and headed for WC.

We left William Creek Wednesday morning and arrived Port Pirie just on dusk. Our journey home took us via Mt. Gambier, where we o/nighted, and we arrived Melbourne Friday evening in pouring rain.
An amazing adventure to some of the remotest parts of Australia.

In preparation for our trip, we had the car serviced about 2 weeks before we took off, bought a good quality used tyre, just in case we shredded one, so that we still had a "spare", and prepared our "emergency box".

Our "emergency box" contains reflective vests, emergency flashing lights, whistles, an axe, assorted tools (spanners, screw drivers etc.), news paper, matches, sharp knife, first aid kit, and nylon rope.
We also carried 25 litres of fresh town water from Coober Pedy, one of our camp stoves, gas cylinders, kettle, tea, coffee etc. and food such as muesli bars, dry biscuits, and nuts.

Fortunately, in our 3976 km round trip, we didn't need to use our emergency resources. But you never know, so always be prepared.

Comments for Our Lake Eyre Adventure

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 19, 2019
Flights Lake Eyre
by: Margot

What is the best time of day to take a flight over Lake Eyre to get the best views in early Sepetember

Feb 28, 2014
Well Done
by: Brandon

Hi All
Thanks for the amazing story, I am planning the same trip route, I also have an 07 Outlander that I was hoping is good enough to get the trip done, want to get to Halligen Bay, for a coulple of night Photography, did your vehicle do the road well, COober Peedy to WC and WC to Halligen Bay and back.

Jun 10, 2012
by: margaret brum

Hi Bro, just read about your fab trip, can contact me on Facebook or E-Mail me on margaret.brum@yahoo.co.uk. Hope you see this be good to be in touch.

Aug 05, 2009
What a wonderful journey!
by: Rita

Hi Nigel,

Thank you so much for this excellent report about your Lake Eyre adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I could feel your excitement in every single sentence.

I hope your story convinces folks to go and enjoy the real Australian Outback. It is such an amazing and beautiful place. There is so much to discover in the vast inland.

Quote: "We could have been a million miles from anywhere!" I really know this feeling.

The first time I travelled the Oodnadatta Track was a week after 9/11. The horror, the dreadful terror, the crazy world, it all seemed to be so far away. I thought the Outback was the most peaceful place on earth.

Thanks as well for your tips, and what you carry in your emergency box. It is always good to be well prepared. You'll never know if you need it.

BTW, if you want me to add one of your photos, please let me know using the contact form.


Click here to add your own comments

Return to Your Oodnadatta Track Stories .

Enjoy these tips and articles in the Outback Guide