Lake Eyre is a massive and eerily desolate salt lake caught between the Simpson and Strzelecki deserts in a region where the annual evaporation rate is thirty times greater than the rainfall. Most years a little water trickles into the lake from its million-square-kilometre catchment area, which extends well into central Queensland and the Northern Territory. However, in 2009 and 2010 major floods in Queensland and New South Wales filled the basin, transforming it into a massive inland sea, for only the fourth time since white settlement of the region. A hypnotic, glaring salt crust usually covers the southern bays, creating a mysterious landscape whose harsh surrounds are paved by shiny gibber stones and walled by red dunes – in 1964 the crust was thick enough to be used as a range for Donald Campbell’s successful crack at the world land-speed record. Some wildlife also manages to get by in the incredible emptiness. The resident Lake Eyre dragon is a diminutive, spotted grey lizard often seen skimming over the crust, and the rare flooding attracts dense flocks of birds, wakes the plump water-holding frog from hibernation and causes plants to burst into colour. Designated a national park, you’ll need a Desert Pass to visit. It’s an isolated area and only high-clearance 4WDs are permitted. You’ll need to be self-sufficient with plenty of fuel, food and water; a satellite phone is also recommended. Before you leave, check the road conditions with the Transport SA hotline (t1300 361 033, whttp://www.transport.sa.gov.au).