Lake Eyre, Australia's biggest salt lake, fills with water to become an inland sea

While rain and disastrous floods have battered Australia's east coast, in a somewhat cruel twist it has also brought life back to the outback as Australia's biggest salt lake, Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre in South Australia, fills fast and scenic flight operators ramp up to host those keen to see the rare phenomenon.

About 700 kilometres north of Adelaide and dry most of the time, the lake in Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park runs 144 kilometres long and 77 kilometres wide and floods about every four years.

Before the most recent and catastrophic deluges in Queensland and NSW, the wet weather of the La Nina meteorological pattern had already been welcomed in the outback after years of drought.

Queensland's Georgina and Diamantina Rivers and Cooper Creek, the state's three largest waterways, have been flowing at extreme levels and running into Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre.

David Hayward, of Australian Air Safaris, last saw this occur in 2019 when his company operated more than 40 flights to see the phenomenon.

"You fly across many hundreds of kilometres of arid dry desert, in the driest continent in the world, then suddenly you come across this vast inland sea," Hayward says.

"It's like you could be flying over an ocean with no land in sight to beyond the horizon, even from the air. It is such a rare and spectacular event, the lake is about the size of Belgium and exists mostly as an arid dry mega salt pan with glistening bright salt crystals, still spectacular in itself.

"But it's truly amazing to witness a meteorological event that happens infrequently in an area of Australia that is unique, massive in size and that has historical and almost mythical status."

Australian Air Safaris has a two-day air trip, Melbourne return that includes a scenic flight over the lake to land at Muloorina Station. It costs from $3250 a person.

Outback Spirit has two five-night itineraries, round trip from Adelaide for up to 26 people that include three scenic flights as well as a four-wheel-driving tour to the shore of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. From $4895 a person.

There is also a six-night itinerary with those inclusions but with the Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Pound included. From $5295 a person.

See australianairsafaris.com.au ; outbackspirittours.com.au

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