There’s a bittersweet irony in the Channel Country this year. 

Photos by Georgie Mann

Parts of northern Queensland were devastated by two flooding events in early February and March, gifting some pastoral properties the season of a decade as the greatest floods since 1974 passed by. In contrast, the southern Lake Eyre Basin has had one of the driest years on record, with areas receiving rainfall in the lowest 1 percent of averages, yet water has burst the banks of the Georgina, Diamantina and Cooper, flooding out onto the vast surrounding plains and bringing them bursting to life with rich green pastures, colourful sprays of wildflowers and birdlife. 

Determined to witness this spectacle, photographer Georgie Mann, of Caramut, Vic, took off from Horsham, in western Victoria, flying sometimes as low as 500 feet (150 metres) in a Cessna 210 with Andrew Kube Aviation, covering Coongie Lakes, Goyder Lagoon, Lake Eyre, William Creek and Birdsville. “I was just keen to see it all,” Georgie says. “I was completely blown away by the scale of the water. It’s that perspective you get from the air, too – getting up and seeing that whole horizon and expanse. It blew my mind; it was so beautiful.”

Georgie says from the air, the expanse of water plays tricks on the mind. “As the tree-lined banks of the Warburton Creek give way to vast sandy plains, an optical illusion makes water appear to flow uphill as it runs south through the aptly named Warburton Groove towards Lake Eyre.”

The Diamantina River at Birdsville has a historic June–August average flow of less than 100 gigalitres, and it is currently forecast to hit 800GL for the same period this year. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #126

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2019