Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 108 huge significance to local residents, other Australians and internationally. We have some of the most incredible wetlands in Australia. The river is central to our life it provides for all people and biodiversity along its length, right down to its end at Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. These rivers keep the towns, tourism and the rural industries going (see Chapters 11 and 13), as all are reliant on the dividends delivered by the floods. Our beef industry works on the basis of taking livestock out when it’s dry and bringing them in, following the wet season. Our rivers are among the most variable in the world (Puckridge et al. 1998 McMahon et al. 2008). In our Thomson River, the flow regime depends on rainfall patterns in the north-east of the Basin, determining our incredible cycles of ‘boom and bust’ (see Chapter 1). The booms come with big wet monsoon seasons that can extend down into the headwaters of our major rivers, the Georgina River, Diamantina River and, where we live, Cooper Creek. Cyclones are particularly important in producing large rainfall events, which then drive the flows in the rivers, pushing large pulses of water down the system and causing extensive flooding that triggers a wildlife boom. Unusually, our rivers decrease their flow as they progress down the catchment. They start in high rainfall areas and increase until they reach the large floodplains of the Channel Country and then decrease their flow (Knighton and Nanson 1994) because the floodplains act like a natural sponge. It takes huge and rare rainfall events to produce enough waters to flood the 80 km-wide floodplain, south of the town of Windorah, called the Channel Country. These floods make it one of the best ‘naturally irrigated’ pastures in the world. For people depending on the Fig. 10.1. The Thomson River flows through our cattle property to join the Barcoo River and form Cooper Creek. Booms in flows and floods bring the double bonus of improved grazing pastures for our livestock and an incredible boom in biodiversity, which is my passion (photo, A. Emmott).
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