151 17 ‘Once more into the breach, dear friends …’ the ongoing battle for the Cooper Bob Morrish Introduction Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, the immense ephemeral salt lake at the heart of this dry continent, continues to haunt and fascinate the Australian consciousness. The lake itself is the dominant feature within a huge network of smaller fresh and saltwater lakes, swamps and sand dunes of the north-east deserts of South Australia and a vast expanse of channels, floodplains, swamps, dunes and ephemeral lakes of the fabled Channel Country of Queensland (Fig. 17.1). The whole region responds with spectacular growth and beauty in the rare seasons of extensive flooding sufficient to reach and fill Lake Eyre, as memorably documented by the late and much lamented ABC film crew, Paul Lockyer, Gary Ticehurst and John Bean Fig. 17.1. The spectacular Channel Country of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers floods and drives a boom in numbers of animals, plants and other organisms as well providing a livelihood to many pastoralists who are committed to protecting this magnificent river system (photo, R.T. Kingsford).
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