Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre Flights: A Review

Lake Eyre flights

Lake Eyre flights
I’ve been to Lake Eyre – Kati Thanda many times over the years, but I’d never taken a Lake Eyre flight.

There’d been recent rain over the lake itself and further north in the lake’s massive catchment, so I knew the lake had water in it.

As I was planning to drive south along the Oodnadatta Track I decided to do it: take a flight over Kati Thanda from William Creek.

Here’s my experience of a Lake Eyre flight, including tips for comfort and where to sit to take the best photographs.

Two Hours in a Little Plane

I chose to fly with Wright’s Air out of William Creek as it was on my way down the Oodnadatta Track.

Wright’s Air is probably the most well known company flying over Lake Eyre, and certainly seem to have the most planes. They bill themselves as ‘the Lake Eyre specialists’.

When you call up to book they will ask your weight. This isn’t to make you feel bad, it’s so they can calculate how much fuel they’ll need.

Inside-plane
The plane I flew in was a seven seater Cessna. There were three rows of two seats (including the pilot’s seat), and one seat at the rear.

As I’m small, I was put in the back seat. This was great for me, as I had a backpack with all my camera gear in it and was able to photograph from both sides of the plane.

Flight Route and Details

I took a two hour flight that went from the southern extent of Lake Eyre North, all the way to the top of the lake where the Warburton Creek flows in.

The (May 2016) water levels when I took my flight were 2.5 metres in the deepest part of Lake Eyre- Kati Thanda.

In fact, there were still waters flowing in from both the Warburton and Neale’s Creek systems, and the water level was expected to peak at around 3 metres in the following 3-4 weeks.

We took off quite smoothly,  and rose to 2500 feet as we headed east from William Creek and headed towards the lake. This made for some great views of the Halligan Bay track.

As we neared Lake Eyre, the pilot took the plane down to 500 feet. The detail in the landscape this allowed us to see was breathtaking.

Lake-Eyre3

At one point, we passed a Wedge-Tailed Eagle less than 50 metres off to one side of the plane, soaring above the ground at the same height we were.

We flew east to Belt Bay and then over a small island called ‘Silcrete Island’, which I assume is a hill topped with a silcrete cap!

Lake Eyre flights

From there we headed over to Jackboot Bay, where the pilot pointed out the Goyder Channel in the distance.

The Goyder Channel is the narrow passage that connects Lake Eyre North with the southern part of the lake.

Near-JackbootBay
Then we turned north, heading over Dulhunty Island before coming to the distinctive and unmistakable Warburton Groove.

Over Dulhunty Island, we were treated to flocks of pelicans taking off as the plane flew overhead. There were also flocks of crakes, stints and dotterels.

The Warburton Groove is one of Lake Eyre’s most distinguishable features and runs in a NE-SW direction for approximately 85 kilometres. It is up to 5 kilometres wide in some parts and is about 60 centimetres deep (although, it did look deeper from the air).

 

Warburton-Groove1
The pilot looped the plane about the Warburton Creek where it was flowing into Kati Thanda, giving us an opportunity to see the creek’s tributaries and the creek snaking off to the north.

We then headed south-west and the terrain and colours changed dramatically, becoming green and beige as we struck Neale’s Creek.

Lake Eyre flights
Many people will be familiar with the famous Algebuckina Bridge on the Oodnadatta Track.

The creek which the bridge spans is Neale’s Creek – the same one pictured below flowing into Lake Eyre – Kati Thanda.

Lake Eyre flights
Tracking further back towards William Creek, we were treated with striking green and red tributaries flowing into Neale’s Creek, and a landscape dotted with claypans flooded after recent rains.

Lake Eyre flights
It was difficult to believe that two hours had passed and I’d taken about 300 photos! We climbed back up to 2500 feet for the short return to William Creek and another smooth landing.

Flight and Photography Tips

  • This might seem like a no brainer, but make sure you go to the toilet before you get on the plane
  • Take some water with you – none is supplied
  • If you start to feel ill on the plane, LOOK straight ahead for a while
  • If you’re flying in the morning, sitting on the right side of the plane is probably the best angle so you don’t get the sun in your lens
  • If you’re going in the afternoon, then the left hand side would be better
  • The flight out to the turn around point at the Warburton Creek took longer than the return flight
  • If you are seated on the ‘wrong’ side of the plane for best photography, don’t panic! Once the plane turns around you’ll be able to get some decent shots

Costs and Details

Lake Eyre flights
I took a two hour flight, which at current (May 2016) prices is $420 per person.

One hour flights cost $260 per person.

Wrights Air have a website here: http://www.wrightsair.com.au/

Or you can phone them on: (08) 86 707 962

Even if there’s no water in Kati Thanda, I recommend taking a one hour flight.

A Lake Eyre flight will give you a perspective of the lake and its diverse terrain that you simply can’t get from the ground.

More Lake Eyre information:

Lake Eyre – Kathi Thanda National Park – Information on how to get there, what to see, facilities and costs

Lake Eyre Flights – A list of companies who fly over the lake, overview of tours, departure locations and costs

Lake Eyre – Kati Thanda Road Conditions – Find out the latest road conditions

Lake Eyre -Kati Thanda Travel Advice – Essential safety advice for travelling in this remote area

1 Comment

  • Lestelle Tafai says:

    Hey Gary and Amanda. Was great meeting you and having dinner in Boulia tonight. Realised i had been reading Amandas blog re flying over Lk Eyre pre leaving home for this trip. Amazing. You are both amazing and lovely.

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