A FLIGHT to Lake Eyre can be quite an adventure. To see the lake with water is truly a sight to behold says local tour operator, Rob Asplin, who has been conducting flights over Lake Eyre since 1997, flying there over 100 times.
It all started in 1993. Rob and wife, Joan ran a sports store in Kyabram. After selling the store they decided to go into tourism and began running canoe and kayaking trips on the Goulburn River, a side of their business still running strong today.
In 1997 they started the flights to Lake Eyre, initially flying from Melbourne’s Essendon Airport.
In those days they flew to William Creek but it was still a day’s drive to Lake Eyre. Now flying from Shepparton, they stop at Broken Hill then onto Innamincka for lunch and then to the Dig Tree of Bourke and Wills and finally to Birdsville. They always arrive in time to witness the magnificent sunsets before moving into motel accommodation.
Next day it’s up early to go bird watching on the lagoon. There are pelicans and swans and during their last visit they were joined by a swarm of budgies.
Then it’s back on the plane to fly to the Big Red sand dune, then onto following the Diamantina River until it meets up with the Warburton as it snakes its way to Lake Eyre.
The Lake Eyre Basin is the lowest point in Australia. The low point is 15m below sea level, hence the water making it there. As it fills, the lake comes alive attracting water birds and tourists.
There are two lakes, Lake Eyre North and Lake Eyre South joined by the 13km Goyder Channel. When full, Lake Eyre is 144km long by 77km wide, like a huge inland sea.
Rob loves flying tours of Lake Eyre and seeing the looks on people’s faces as they see the lake for the first time. From the air you can take it all in. His two and three day trips from Shepparton attract tourist from all over Victoria and NSW.
On recent trips he was amazed to see rafts of pelicans. The first time, there were two rafts containing thousands of birds and on his last trip there were four. It looked like the birds had gathered to breed, but how do they know that there is still more water to come into the basin? Rob says pelicans can breed three to four times a season, so they must know the water is going to be there.
Rob will be keeping an eye out on future trips to see how the pelicans go. Their next trip is on May 12 and 13 and, all going well, they will continue flying into July.
If anyone would like to contact Rob, call River Country Adventours on 5852 2736 or e-mail on [email protected]
Until next time,