Lake Torrens National Park

Lake Torrens National Park, John Carnemolla / Auscape International
Four-wheel drive touring Walking

Introduction

The 250-kilometre-long ephemeral Lake Torrens is timeless, wild and starkly photogenic. Protected within Lake Torrens National Park, this is Australia’s second largest lake but it has filled with water only once in the past 150 years. When sporadic thunderstorms do provide a little relief, sometimes turning a hard-packed salt crust to boggy brown mud, numerous birds call the lake home – banded stilts, in particular, arrive in flocks to feast on brine shrimp. Vegetation around the lake is sparse, consisting mainly of saltbush, bluebush and samphire. Original occupants of the area were the Arabunna in the north, the Kokatha in the west and the Kuyani in the east. In the bad seasons the people stayed near the springs and waterholes, in good times there was more movement – particularly for trade and ceremonial purposes. It is a territory crossed by many Dreaming tracks and there are rock engraving sites.

In 1839 Edward Eyre spotted the dry salt bed of Lake Torrens from Mount Arden at the head of Spencer Gulf and named it after Colonel Robert Torrens, one of South Australia’s founding fathers. In 1840, after further exploration, Eyre concluded that Lake Torrens was part of a crescent of saltpans barring the way northwards. It was 18 years before Herschel Babbage and Major Warburton proved him wrong.

Driving on the lake surface is not permitted because of the damage caused by deep wheel ruts and scars. In some spots it can be quite easy to bog or even roll your vehicle in soft patches, and this can quickly become a life or death situation in a place as remote as this. Access to the national park is via Mulgaria or Andamooka stations (permission required, private roads), see Fact File.

Fact file

Camping

No camping

Location and access

431 km north of Adelaide via Stuart Hwy and B83 to Lyndhurst then Farina Ruins to Andamooka via Mulgaria; via Stuart Hwy and B97 to Roxby Downs then Andamooka; private roads

Park information

  • Parks SA (08) 204 1910
  • Parks SA Port Augusta (08) 8648 5300
  • Andamooka station (08) 8671 0754
  • Mulgaria station (08) 8675 8313

Size

570 745 ha

Visitor information

Leigh Creek (08) 8675 2315

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