Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Lake Frome, SA - 2330 sq km - a salina  See Passive Fractures weathering

This is a large playa southeast of Lake Eyre, it has a local catchment in the Flinders Ranges and a connection via Lakes Blanche, Lake Callabonna and the Strzelecki Creek to the Cooper system. Large inputs from the Cooper system, resulting in water level records coeval with those of Lake Eyre. Analysis of gypsum deposits revealed a Late-Quaternary salinity record that is consistent with the inferred climatic history of southeast Australia. There are 3 periods of lake filling indicated - about 17000 BP, from 15000-13500 BP, and 13000-11000 BP. It was dry prior to 17000 BP, between 19500 and 15000 BP, at 13000 BP, and between 6000 and 4000 BP.

This lake rarely fills as its size is large compared to the size of its catchment. I has a halite covered bed and is 15 m above sea level. Along its eastern edge there are a number of mound springs. The distribution of theses mound springs indicate they are probably related to a fracture zone. There are many arcuate islands in the southern section. They are oriented meriodinally, and their sediments show evidence of higher water levels.

This is a playa salt lake in a tectonic depression. Along the eastern margin are gypsum dunes, they carry a vegetation of tall open shrubland including Sandhill Wattle (acacia ligulata), Mulga (Acacia aneura) and Needlebush (Hakea spp.). There is an understorey of saltbush, bluebush and ephemeral herbs. A belt of low open woodland, including Coolibah (eucalyptus microtheca) and Lignum (Muehlenbeckia cunninghamii), extends to the from Cooper Creek to Lake Hope.

A characteristic of Lake Frome that has been discovered is that huge amounts of water evaporates from the lake, even when it appears to be a dry salt pan. The water table comes very close to the surface and it has been found that 460 million cubic metres of water from the water table evaporates from ground surface each year. It is believed that the same may occur at other salt lakes at which the water table is a short distance below the surface.

See also

All Over Australia REPORT

Lake Frome is a salt flat which contains water only after heavy rains in the northern Flinders Ranges or if Lake Callabonna overflows. Lake Frome is in the north-east of South Australia.

Driving on the lake bed is not permitted. Hidden mud holes can permanently bog a 4WD.

According to Adnyamathanha legend Lake Frome was created by Urdlu, the red kangaroo. When it was created it was fresh. However, Mandya, the jealous euro, made the water salty to make it undrinkable.

Explorer Edward John Eyre came through the region in 1840 and was the first European to sight the lake. Lake Frome was named after E. C. Frome, Surveyor-General of South Australia, who explored the region in 1843. He had to cancel plans to go further north when the lake blocked his way.

Myrtle Rose White describes life here in the early part of the twentieth century in her book No Roads Go By, published in 1932. She and her husband established the only homestead in the area and lived here for seven years.

Sources & Further reading

Mary E White, Running Down, Water in a Changing Land, Kangaroo Press, 2000


Last updated 05/11/2008


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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading