Australia’s outback is dotted with what poet Banjo Patterson called “phantom lakes” in his poem “The Droving Days.” These lakes can be real lakes, at times, when there has been rain, or when distant rains have been so great that water makes it down the usually dry rivers to fill these basins. When that happens, there is an almost miraculous explosion of life, from desert plants bursting into bloom to waterbirds appearing by the thousands to enjoy the warm water.
But most of the time, these lakes are flat sheets of salt. As we departed Ayers Rock and vicinity, we stopped to climb a dune and view the salt lake you see pictured below. (So be advised: If you are traveling in Australia and you see lakes marked everywhere on the map, you can’t necessarily expect water. If the lake in question is drawn with a dotted line, it’s going to be one of these on-again/off-again salt lakes.)