Tuesday, July 29, 2008

salt lakes and rockets

Yesterday we travelled our first 250 km north from Port Augusta into the desert. For the first time in weeks we were able to stop at a campsite, get the chairs out, crack open a bottle of wine and watch the sunset. We were parked next to Lake Hart, a huge salt lake, and Ness the tour guide did not let the driver know that said 'lake' was totally dry. It is deceptive because it looks so like a body of water...until you walk the dog offshore and into the middle of it, and I assumed that the dog was going to get very muddy!

These lakes are 1.5 metres below sea level. Lake Eyre, another larger salt lake (well, the largest in the world actually, at 9,50 sq.km) which we will pass close to over the next few days, is so huge and so dry that Donald Campbell set a world land speed record on it in 1964.

Lake Eyre yacht club ( a hardy bunch of optimists) take the opportunity to sail on it whenever there is enough water ( last sailing 1997- fills with water about four times per century).

We stopped at Woomera before we reached the lake- this township has only been open to travelers recently because it is in the middle of a patch of desert that has been used since the 1960's as a secret military rocket launch and testing site. The surrounding area is still prohibited, but the outdoor rocket and missile museum was surreal.

The sunset over the 'lake' was beautiful.

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