Lake Eyre


South Australia , Australia
( 1964 )

Plaque at Level Post Bay commemorating Sir Donald Campbell's attempt on the World Land Speed record at Lake Eyre

Lake Eyre (pronounced "air") has been a site for various land speed record attempts on its salt flats, especially those by Sir Donald Campbell with the Bluebird-Proteus CN7.

Kevin Rohrlach was the first person to use Lake Eyre for a land speed record and several that he set on a motorcycle still stand.

Date Location Driver Driver Country Vehicle Power Speed over
1 Km
Speed over
1 Mile
July 17, 1964 Lake Eyre, Australia Donald Campbell Great Britain Bluebird Proteus CN7
Bristol-Siddeley Protsud Turbine
T 403.135    

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The lake was named after Edward John Eyre who was the first European to sight it in 1840. The lake is located in the deserts of central Australia, in northern South Australia. The Eyre Basin is a large endorheic system surrounding the lakebed, the lowest part of which is filled with the characteristic playa salt pan caused by the seasonal expansion and subsequent evaporation of the trapped waters. Even in the dry season there is usually some water remaining in Lake Eyre, usually collecting in a number of smaller sub-lakes on the playa.

During the rainy season the rivers from the northeast (in outback Queensland) flow towards the lake through the Channel Country. The amount of water from the monsoon determines whether water will reach the lake and if it does, how deep the lake will get. In strong La Niña years the lake can fill. Since 1885 this has occurred in 1886/1887, 1889/1890, 1916/1917, 1950, 1955, 1974-1976 [1], with the highest flood of 6m in 1974. Local rain can also fill Lake Eyre to 3-4m as occurred in 1984 and 1989. Wave built shingle terraces on the shore suggest that during the Medieval Warm Period and centuries immediately prior Lake Eyre possibly held permanent water at levels above those of 1974. Torrential rain in January 2007 took about six weeks to reach the lake but put only a small amount of water into it.[2]

When recently flooded the Lake is almost fresh and native fresh water fish, including boney bream (Nematolosa erebi), the Lake Eyre Basin sub-species of golden perch (Macquaria ambigua) and various small hardyhead species (Craterocephalus spp.) can survive in it. The salinity increases as the 450mm salt crust dissolves over a period of six months resulting in a massive fish kill. When over 4m deep the Lake is no more salty than the sea and salinity increases as the water evaporates with saturation occurring at about 500mm depth. The Lake takes on a "pink" hue when saturated due to the presence of beta-carotene pigment caused by the algae Dunaliella salina.

Typically a 1.5 m (5 ft) flood occurs every three years, a 4 m (13 ft) flood every decade, and a fill or near fill four times a century. The water in the lake soon evaporates with a minor and medium flood drying by the end of the following summer.


See also


  1. ^ Allen, Robert J.; The Australasian Summer Monsoon, Teleconnections, and Flooding in the Lake Eyre Basin; published 1985 by Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, S.A. Branch; ISBN 0909112096
  2. ^ "Lake Eyre flooding attracts yachting club interest", ABC News Online (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 8 March 2007,, retrieved on 2007-03-08. 

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