It has been a long-time goal of ours to fly over Lake Eyre. William Creek, a small remote settlement along the Oodnadatta track, was the perfect base for us to take to the skies.
Our scenic flights were a little different though. There was NO DOOR on the tiny four-seater Cesna, so we could reach out and take photos! Scott preferred the seat next to the gaping hole of the missing door, and I preferred to be tucked behind, in the slightly more enclosed back seat.
Kati-Thanda Lake Eyre is Australia’s largest salt-lake, but is only covered with water every eight years on average. 2019 happened to be one of those years. This brought the landscape to life, attracting tourists from all over the world, and making William Creek the busiest outback airstrip in Australia!
By the time we visited, most of the water was gone, with a vast salt plain left in its place. Natural springs dotted the plain, creating enormous patterns of pastel-blues, yellows and reds as water pushed up through the salt crust. The only way to really appreciate these patterns was from the air.
A short flight to the south-west of William Creek, sit the Painted Hills. Here, mounds and pinnacles stained deep red and yellow, rise suddenly from the flat desert. We gladly took up the offer of a door-less scenic flight over this landscape that could double as a film set for “The Martian”.
Back on the ground, the famous William Creek Hotel was everything I had hoped an outback pub would be. Every inch of wall and ceiling was festooned with memorabilia, foreign currency notes, and the scrawlings of past travellers. We did enjoy the hearty food there, and the novelty of being able to eat out again.
The clear night skies in the outback are incredible. Always on the lookout for our next astro-photography subject, we spotted a wrecked vintage car on the side of the Oodnadatta track. Perfect! So a chilly but creative evening was spent with our cameras pointed at the Milky Way, trying to get our best shots.
We loved our time at William Creek. Not only did it have a lot to offer us as photographers, but it has that irresistible outback charm, and bucket-loads of character. We have a feeling we will be back there in the future!
Photos by Scott Portelli & Rosie Leaney using Olympus OMD cameras