Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 124 Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. We are also increasingly seeing international tourists, mainly from the United States and Europe. Our tourist season usually starts in April, with numbers growing significantly over the winter but the season increasingly extends through November. Many travel through the Flinders Ranges before coming to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. The air flights reflected the extraordinary level of interest during the 2011 flood of Lake Eyre, as people flew from the major urban centres. Apart from our operations (Fig. 13.1), there were special air charters using Fokker 50s (a 50-seat aircraft) while QantasLink brought a Dash 8 aircraft chartered from Brisbane. Alliance Airlines, who predominantly service the mines, also flew tourists to see Lake Eyre. Not only did this influx of tourists come to see Lake Eyre but they also often stayed overnight in the outback towns and got supplies when the aircraft had to refuel in Birdsville, Broken Hill, Coober Pedy and Innamincka. The 2010–11 flood had a dramatic impact on our business. We have our flight operations centre at William Creek, which usually has 12–20 people in the dry times but these numbers swell to 200–300 people when the floods come into the lake. In normal dry years, our company usually runs three or four small, single- engine aircraft, with our three pilots taking tourist flights over the Lake and its rivers (Fig. 13.2). In the flood years of 2010 and 2011, we had to employ 22 pilots and 18 aircraft. We flew more than 22 000 people over the lake, constantly flying between February and Fig. 13.1. Our tourist flight business out of William Creek on the western edge of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre has grown considerably as people have continued to want to see the magnificent environments of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers whether in flood or dry times (photo, R.T. Kingsford).
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