March has been a big month for rain in outback South Australia with Coober Pedy receiving 75mm for the month and Marree not far behind with 68mm.
As is often the case in the outback, it is all or nothing and March was no exception.
Marree at the southern end of both the Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks, received 26.2mm of rain on March 10th with another 35mm falling a few days later on March 13th.
In northern Australia rainfall like this is nothing unusual, but in the southern parts of the country it’s a different story.
The sudden deluge closed the Oodnadatta Track leaving 40 travellers stranded at the William Creek Hotel.
Phil Turner, owner of the Marree Hotel, called it "perhaps a 1 in 30 year event”.
He continued, "One station owner said that her elderly grandparents have creeks flowing on their property that have not had water in them....ever - that's at least 90 years."
"It’s probably the best 5 year period for the pastoralists on record."
"The William Creek Gymkhana was cancelled. The "Queen of the Desert Festival" (a celebration of Australian film) has been re-scheduled for August."
This rain is great news for Kati Chanda-Lake Eyre with the strongest falls in the north western catchment area of the lake.
While not enough to fill the lake in itself, it is a good start and water is now flowing down the Georgina, Margaret, Neals and Warburton creeks. The Diamantina and Cooper Creeks also have good water flows in the north west and, with a little bit more rain in their catchments we could see the Birdsville Track breached and it reaching the Lake around September.
It’s also great news for the local scenery.
More water in the creeks and lakes results in more fish which in turn attracts the birds.
By Spring, we should have a sensational wildflower season with a massive array of floral colours over a wide portion of the desert.
Current Track Conditions
As at April 1st, 2016, the Oodnadata Track is open to all traffic between Marree and Coober Pedy but 4WD and heavy vehicles only north of William Creek, through Oodnadatta to Marla on the Stuart Highway.
The Birdsville Track is open to all vehicles from Marree to Mungeranie but 4WD and heavy vehicles only between Mungeranie and Birdsville.
For the latest up to date track conditions, check the SA DPTI website here:
Start planning your trip
With the rain bringing the desert to life, 2016 is going to be a great year to visit outback South Australia.