A chronology of European discovery, exploration, disappointment and achievement in the Lake Eyre region.
Charles Sturt rows down the Murray to its mouth
confirming that this river does not enter the assumed inland sea.
Edward John Eyre, explores along the western side of
the Flinders Ranges, discovering Lake Torrens. He then proceeded northward to
again meet what he thought was Lake Torrens. He was at Eyre Lookout on Lake
Eyre South. "...one vast, low, and dreary waste". Turning South-East he also
discovers Lakes Blanche, Callabonna and Frome. He believed that they were part of Lake Torrens which appeared to be one vast impassable
horseshoe shaped salt lake blocking the way to the north beyond the Flinders
Charles Sturt discovers and names Strzelecki, Cooper
and Eyre creeks. He abandons his cart carried whaleboat at Depot Glen! "I am
still of the opinion that there is more than one sea in the interior of the
B H Babbage and G W Goyder travelling out from the
now settled Northern Flinders Ranges during two good years report fresh water
lakes. The State Government sent out a followup party complete with boat but
by the time they got there the lakes were dry!
B H Babbage travels up the west side of Lake Torrens and on to Lake Eyre South, which he names Lake Gregory, realising the probability of a break in the horse shoe. The government, getting a little impatient for good news, sends Major P Egerton Warburton to relieve him. Babbage was ordered to return via the western side of Lake Torrens leaving Warburton to be the first to break through between the Lakes. Babbage, son of Charles Babbage the inventor of the computer, later became a member of the SA Parliament.
Warburton completed exploration of the western side of the Lake.
A C Gregory returning from his search for fellow
explorer Ludwig Leichhardt followed the Cooper breaking through the east side of the horseshoe. He discovered Lakes Blanche and Gregory en route to the Northern Flinders Ranges.
John McDouall Stuart travels to the top of the continent. He discovered The Neales River and Stuarts Creek which was later named after him.
Warburton returns to explore the northern shores of
the Lake and follows the river later named after him. "Lake Eyre was dry -
terrible in its death-like stillness and the vast expanse of its unbroken
Ross working for Thomas Elder reports 300
miles of navigable waterway - the Lake and it's northern river.
Charles Todd builds the Overland Telegraph following Stuarts route up the west side of the Lake.
J L Lewis completes the exploration of the shoreline from the Neales and Macumba to the Warburton and Cooper in summer! He names Goyders Lagoon after Surveyor-General George Woodroffe Goyder.
"I sincerely trust I may never see it again. It is useless in every respect,
and the very sight of it creates thirst in man and beast."
And the other classic line concerning the black ooze under the crust which:
" would not suffer examination without consuming the examiner."
Muloorina first taken up but abandoned in the drought
of 1901 after only 150mm of rain had fallen in three years.
The first hair brained scheme to permanently flood
the Lake via a canal from Spencers Gulf via Lake Torrens was hatched.
Historical records indicate major floods during this period
A newspaper reports Lake Eyre being full
The Cooper crosses the Birdsville Track.
G H Halligan flies over the Lake and reports
it to be one third full. Four months later he returns using camels to
bring in a boat - the Lake was dry! Later research by Mason indicates
the possibility of a flood in 1921-2.
C T Madigan, after severely criticizing Halligan's claim of water in The
Lake, examines the Lake from the air on August 29 and four months later
walks out almost 20km on to it with C Kunoth. He declares that it would never
fill and Goyder Channel would not run again to fill Lake Eyre South.
Government abandons Muloorina Station due to lack of
requirement for camels.
Ghan driver Keith S Easton in his memoir mentions "Early in 1938 ... massive washaways ... Willochra Creek ... to Alice Springs"
Margaret Creek embankment was washed away and line pigstyd with sleepers for the length of the embankment.
Suggesting a flood similar to the 1989 flood that filled the Lake to 3.5m.
T E Field concludes that the Cooper would no longer be able to penetrate
the Tirari desert dunes and reach the Lake. It last reached The Lake in
The Cooper reaches Lake Eyre and fills it -
for the first time in 31 years..
Kevin Rohrlach is the first person to use Lake Eyre for a land speed record and several that he set on a motorcycle still stand.
Lake Eyre fills, the Cooper reaches the Lake again.
Eric Bonython and Hector Brooks navigate The Cooper to the Lake and back from the Birdsville Track. They used an eleven foot flat bottomed dinghy with a four horsepower outboard towing a six foot dinghy full of extra fuel and supplies.
Warren Bonython and the SA Royal Geographic Society
set up a committee to report on the great flooding of 1949-50.
J R M Taggart investigates the Lake by plane and canoe.
A plane lands in the middle of Madigan Gulf proving
the strength of the salt crust.
Donald Campbell fails to create a new land speed
record in his car the Bluebird due to local rain flooding Madigan Gulf.
Donald Campbell succeeds reaching 403.1mph on July 17.
Dr John Dulhunty, a geologist from Sydney University
and expert on Lake Eyre and the Great Artesian Basin, and wife Roma first
visit the Lake. Between 1972 and 1983 (except for 1981) they spent three to six months studying the Lake. Roma's books tell of their expeditions to the Lake.
The biggest flood in modern history occurs and, compared to the previous one hundred and thirty years, it seems every man and his dog are there to see it!