5 January 2012

Cooper Creek

Paddling towards the sunset in a kayak along Cooper Creek.

Cooper Creek is in the middle of the Australian desert.
Its normally a dry creekbed but late last year it filled with water after the Queensland floods and flowed down to fill the dry Lake Eyre salt bed once again.

We travelled over 700km north into the arid central Australian outback last week with a couple of kayaks on the roof of the spunky little Hyundai Getz to visit Cooper Creek.

Then made our camp under the shade of a coolibah tree on the banks of the flooded creek.

We were in a hauntingly desolate landscape.
Ancient, stark, beautiful in its harshness.

The ferry at Cooper Creek is operating again just near the floodway section of the Birdsville Track.

Unfortunately we couldn't board the ferry because the Getz didn't have a high enough clearance so we camped on the southern side of the creek.

Temperatures hovered around 40 degrees C during the day.

The wind was our constant companion and our saviour, keeping the stifling heat moving.
Desert sand covered just about everything inside the tent, but we just couldn't cover the tent with its canopy and lose the endless sky.
I lay at night looking up at the stars, a powder spray of sparkles.

An obstacle course to test my kayak steering skills.

Taking photos before leaving Cooper Creek.

From there we headed back down the Birdsville Track, veering off to the east to visit Arkaroola before travelling on to my favourite place - Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges.

Rivers in central Australia are unusual in that they all rise in the arid zone and end in the arid zone.
In most of the world, desert rivers enter from humid areas. There is no permanent flowing water in any waterways except springs.
Central Australia does not have a wet and a dry season. However, large storms tend to be more common in summer when the occasional remnants of tropical cyclones drift over central Australia.
Australian rivers are up to 1000 times more variable in mean annual discharge than most European and North American rivers (Gale & Bainbridge 1990). The only occasion that stream flow occurs is after rainfall events. In small catchments streamflows are relatively short, perhaps a few hours to a few days. At any one site on a larger river, flow typically lasts for a few days to a few weeks; flows lasting greater than one month are rare.
Streamflow tends to travel slowly along the length of the river; Cooper Creek for example has gradients as low as 1.9cm/km (1.3in/mi). Thus, it may take one or two months for the water in the upper reaches to get to the lower reaches.
When in flood, rivers such as Cooper Creek may spread as wide as 50km. Most rivers contain very little permanent water. All the water exists in a series of waterholes, most of which disappear after a year or two with no flow.


Kaivalya said...

Thank you for sharing these photos - they're stunning! Your narrative made me feel like I was experiencing this adventure with you (though I'm sure I'm only caught a mere thumbnail of the magic of that beautiful place). :-)

nobodhi said...

Thanks for your comment.
Words just can't describe the haunting beauty that followed us through this landscape Kai. I didn't even try to put words to these mystical feelings so the descriptions are almost touristy.