Lake Gairdner - South Australia

Where is Lake Gairdner

Site of the DLRA Speed Trials, Lake Gairdner is located in the State of South Australia. Largest of a group of shallow depressions west of Lake Torrens in central South Australia, 240 mi (550 kilometres) northwest of Adelaide, the State capital. It measures 100 mi (160 km) long by 30 mi wide. Lying at the base of the Eyre Peninsula, the lake is a dry salt pan (playa) intermittently filled with water. Visited in 1857 almost simultaneously by Stephen Hack and Peter E. Warburton, it is named after Gordon Gairdner, former chief clerk in the Australian Department of the Colonial Office, London.


Lake Gairdner is a National Park managed by the South Australian Department of Environment and Water and is subject all National Park rules and regulations. No dogs are allowed in any National Park.
The Lake is a public place and is also subject to South Australian Road Rules and Reglations. All motorised vehicles must be registered, drivers and riders licenced. Motorcyclists must wear a helmet.

Select an area to enlarge


Facts and Figures

  • Lake Gairdner is the fourth largest salt lake in Australia
    • The salt covering the Lake can be 1.2 metres deep in some places
    • The region is the home country of the Kokatha people


How to get to Lake Gairdner

It is a very remote location, the nearest town of Iron Knob being some 121 kilometers (75 miles) from the turn off to the Mt. Ive Station.
Travelling time from the Victorian capital city of Melbourne is about 21 hours and Sydney, New South Wales about 25 hours.
It is about a 6 hour trip from Adelaide to Port Augusta. Most crews stay at the Big 4 Caravan Park at Pt. Augusta on the Friday night before heading out to the Lake on the Saturday.

From Port Augusta to Iron Knob on Highway 1 is all good grade bitumen, this takes about an hour and is 68 k's. There is no food, beer or fuel at Iron Knob.

Fuel and supplies are available at Mt. Ive, but no LPG and at slightly dearer prices.

Turn right on the dirt road just after Iron Knob turn off, you then travel 121 km to Mt. Ive Station turn off, or keep going another 8 km, past 1 cattle grid, then you come to a creek sign, turn right just before the second cattle grid. It is then 21 km past the 2 gates (Shut the gate, mate) a water well, then salt.

GPS Way Points


View Lake Gairdner in a larger map


From the West

Coming from W.A. there's two options leaving Perth Great Eastern Highway to Coolgardie/Norseman, or if your South you can go via Brookton, Hyden/Norsman this will knock a couple of hours of the trip BUT its 300km of gravel, check with Hyden Shire 08 9889 1006 on road conditions and best not to use if wet.

Ceduna is your last real place to stock up on supplies Coles is open 24 hours.
From Ceduna there's a few options as you can go via Wirrula 70 km to the Hiltaba intersection and turn right, Minnipa to Yardea 77km and turn right follow this road to a T intersection and old Homestead turn right, then it approx 16 to 20 km to the road into the lake, you will pass an old wagon on you right,then it about 8km to the lake road keep an eye out for it on your left just after you cross a small bridge, its hard to see as its on a right hand corner, follow road into the Lake.
You can also come in from Kimba up the Buckleboo rd this is a lot more highway but better if your towing a big trailer.
There is limiter fuel/supplies at these smaller towns and most have accommodation.


Select to view full sizeAccomodation in Kimba

For those people coming from the West of Australia the DLRA recommends the Kimba Gateway Hotel, 40 High Street Kimba, Postal: PO Box 42, Kimba SA 5641, Phone: (08) 8627 2888 Fax: (08) 8627 2310, Web:
They are also very happy to offer discounts for groups or singles for accommodation – you just need to mention that they are with the Dry Lakes group.
Kimba is just 120 kilometres, but about 4 hours drive to the lake.


The Road in from Iron Knob


Vehicles that have made it


Final Stretch


When it gets wet


Links to help you plan your trip.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: STATE MAP - includes strip maps.
Sydney to Adelaide
The Map Shop
Australia Travel
Radar images from the Bureau of Meteorology


Salt Report


NEW!! DLRA Phone Information Line (Recorded Message) - 0490488100

or check the forum or Facebook page


Road Conditions

Please take it easy over cattle grids and beware of oncoming vehicles and wandering wildlife and stock. Dust is a major problem, so seal up your clothes, food, race car air intake and pack an extra spare wheel.


Northern and Western South Australian Outback Roads

Follow this link for current Outback Road Warnings in an interactive map.


Some Rules to Remember

  • All vehicles and pit areas on the salt surface, must have full length quality tarps beneath them, to protect the lakes surface.
  • Be sure to take strong garbage bags for litter and sealable drums for oil reside/waste. Don't place any liquids in general waste (paper, plastic etc.) so keep it sealed and take it home.
  • No glass to be taken on to the property near the lake. Any person wishing to cook a BBQ on the lake must have a protective tarp under the BBQ area.
  • SHUT THE GATE, at all times.
  • NO dogs are permitted. Lake Gairdner is a National Park.

Members and Spectators Please Note

The care of the lake and its environment is your concern, basically it's a case of you bring something in, you have to take it out. Without leaving a trace of our presence. By this action we will continue to be able to race in the future.

Authorities which have control over the Lake;
Department of Environment and Water
Arid Areas Catchment Water Board

Outback Travelling Tips

  • Care should be taken when venturing off the beaten track in the outback, especially when conditions are extreme. Always carry enough fuel, water and provisions for several days - be prepared to look after yourself. Distances between towns are often large - check carefully a good map before leaving.
  • On unsealed roads, corrugations may make the going uncomfortable if not dangerous and sometimes an even speed is the best way to obtain reasonable comfort and minimise danger.
  • Water can damage roads quickly. If you encounter rain, it's best to wait until the next day or until the road is dry before going on. If you come across water covering the road, drive carefully and gauge the depth with a stick before you proceed. Extreme care should be taken at river or creek crossings.
  • Dust can also be a hazard and it's best to pull off the road when you encounter excessive dust from a passing vehicle.
  • Watch out for stock and native animals crossing the road, even on sealed roads, especially between sunset and sunrise. Birds of prey feeding on carcasses at dawn have been the cause of many accidents. At all times it pays to match your speed to the conditions, and err on the side of caution.
  • Avoid the Strzelecki and Birdsville Tracks during the summer as conditions are likely to be at their worst - temperatures will be high, road conditions at their worst and water in poor supply.
  • Travellers should be aware of the extreme heat and isolated nature of travelling on outback roads. Please take special note of the following recommendations and check the Hotline number for road conditions before commencing your journey. Northern Area Road Condition hotline (08) 811633

When you travel into the outback, you're in one of Australia's most sensitive environments. Here are some basic do's and don'ts -

  • Notify a friend or relative of your travel arrangements. Advise dates, times and the intended route. Contact the relevant party upon arrival .
  • Don't use soap or detergents except in areas where toilets and showers are provided - otherwise they pollute.
  • Protect water supplies and do not interfere with stock watering points. Water is more valuable than property.
  • Do not leave the main road. In case of accident or breakdown, stay with your vehicle.
  • Respect gates, private roads and private property. Always close a gate you pass through.
  • When travelling in national or conservation parks, consult the ranger before setting off both to find out the best locations and to determine the local conditions. Carry your own power source and strictly observe fire regulations.
  • Do not tamper with road or Property signage.
  • Travellers who may wish to camp in a national or conservation park or regional reserve will require a Desert Parks Pass or an overnight Camping permit. Telephone (08) 8204 1910
  • Leave the area as you found it - take your rubbish with you. Don't interfere with or frighten stock. Don't bring pets, as these are banned in most areas.
  • Respect Aboriginal land and culture. Don't touch paintings or carvings, relics, sites or historical monuments or buildings.
  • It is highly recommended that you install an H.F radio transmitter in your vehicle before attempting outback travel.
  • Take extreme care when wandering around opal diggings.



Kirkhope Aviation Pty Ltd
8 Kasouka Rd CAMBERWELL Victoria Australia 3124
Phone/Fax: +61 3 9882-4236 Mobile: 0418 379-263 or 0408 535-438
Air charter business flying out of Moorabbin Airport Melbourne. Have done many trips to Lake Gairdner/Mt Ive. We operate two 9 passenger twin engine Piper Chieftains, one 7 passenger Piper Navajo and a Beechcraft twin turbine pressurised 10 passenger Super KingAir.
| |


Learn More