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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
We then headed south-west and the terrain and colours changed dramatically, becoming green and beige as we struck Neale’s Creek.
The creek which the bridge spans is Neale’s Creek – the same one pictured below flowing into Lake Eyre – Kati Thanda.
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
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