Just 50 kilometers north of Uluru (Ayers Rock) lies the largest salt lake in Australia’s Northern Territory: Lake Amadeus.
The 180-kilometer long and 10-kilometer wide dry lake shines like a white beacon amongst the red dirt. Lake Amadeus is located in the Amadeus basin, which is filled with erosion material from the Petermann Orogeny, a geological event that lifted and folded the earth’s crust millions of years ago.
Lake Amadeus contains an estimated 600 million tons of salt. When rain falls in sufficient quantity it becomes part of a vast flowing drainage system that connects to the Finke River, one of the oldest rivers in the world. From there it flows for 750 kilometers from its headwater in the Northern Territory’s MacDonnell Ranges, down into Lake Eyre in outback South Australia.
In the Pitjantjatjara language this lake and the nearby Lake Neale are known as pantu, or “salt lakes.” The land where these bodies of water are located is covered by the Katiti and Petermann Aboriginal Land Trusts.
Sand dunes hide the lake from view while on the main road (Lasseter’s Highway), so the best viewing point is opposite the Mount Connor Lookout, approximately 20 kilometers east of Curtin Springs. Cross the road and climb the sand dunes and the salt lake appears like a mirage.
Know Before You Go
Scenic flights are also available with aerial views of Lake Amadeus departing Uluru.