Published: Monday, 18 January 2016

The Lake Eyre Yacht Club in South Australia is planning its first regatta in four years – but only if there’s enough water.

Yacht Club Plans Desert Regatta In Aussie Outback

(Photo: Lake Eyre Yacht Club)

The club sits on the shores of the continent’s largest lake and the thirteenth biggest inland body of water in the world, which is dry most of the time and only completely filled about four times each century – the last time being 1974.

As seasonal rains begin to arrive in Lake Eyre members of the club are becoming excited.

“This rain has primed all the Queensland rivers, which is great," says Lake Eyre Yacht Club Commodore Bob Backway. "If we have what is considered another rain event in the first half of February then it would be fantastic.”

“We’ll probably get boats out on the water in March because this time of year it’s just too hot,” Backway adds. “We’re very excited about it. Everybody’s waking up in the membership and thinking about what to do this year but we’re all praying for follow up rain. If we get the rain it will be our best season since 2011.”

The club, located about 700km north of the South Australian capital city Adelaide, has 220 members from all over Australia, as well as members from the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. It stores 10 boats in sheds at the club but the majority of members bring their yachts on trailers by road.

The closest community to Lake Eyre is William Creek, about 60km away with a permanent population of six.

Backway explained that the club was planning a regatta in April on a lake in the area but probably not Lake Eyre itself, as smaller lakes had more suitable camping grounds and were safer.

Yacht Club Plans Desert Regatta In Aussie Outback 4

(Photo: Salt crust on Lake Eyre 1995/ Lake Eyre Yacht Club)

The last regatta hosted by the club was in 2012, on Lake Killamperpunna about 120km east of Lake Eyre. It attracted 42 boats and was held over six days across two divisions and included multiple classes.

“We typically have about 35 yachts and 120 people. We don’t like it to get much larger than that because it becomes unmanageable in such a remote area,” says Backway.

Backway said some members also cruised their yachts through the Simpson Desert on the Warburton River and Kallakoopah Creek – part of the network that feeds Lake Eyre – when there was enough water.

“I’m hoping to have the opportunity to get at least one river adventure in this year. The best river adventure we’ve had so far has been 750km over 23 days…Some places you’re sailing through Coolabah swamps, which is quite exciting, so it’s a real adventure.”