Despite being one of the world's largest countries, Australia does not have a large number of large lakes. This is mostly due to two reasons: the lack of tectonic movement and the lack of glacial history. Situated in the Southern Hemisphere between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the country's territory includes mainland Australia, Tasmania, and many smaller islands. Australia has a diverse landscape, which occupies a massive land area estimated at 2.97 million square miles. The largest lake in Australia is Lake Eyre, which is found in the state of South Australia. Other large lakes include Lake Mackay, Lake Amadeus, and Lake Torrens.
Australia's Largest Lakes
1. Lake Eyre - 9,500 sq km
Lake Eyre, officially named Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, is a large salt water lake in South Australia. The lake derives its name from the first European to discover it, Edward John Eyre. Lake Eyre is mostly dry, but when filled it becomes the largest lake in Australia, occupying an area of 3668 square miles. When Lake Eyre is filled with water, and it springs to life, providing a habitat for migratory birds such as pelicans and sea plants. Lake Eyre falls under two protected areas: Elliot Price Conservation Park and Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park. The South Australian government protects the area surrounding the lake.
2. Lake Torrens - 5,745 sq km
Lake Torrens is also a salt lake in South Australia. In terms of low rainfall, the lake is dry or close to it. However, when the lake fills with excessive rainfall, it measures as the second largest lake in Australia. Lake Torrens is an endorheic basin which means that its water does not flow out to the ocean. It is found around 350 north of South Australia's largest city of Adelaide.
3. Lake Carnegie - 5,714 sq km
Lake Carnegie covers 5,714 sq km and is found in Western Australia. Lake Carnegie is Australia's largest non-salt lake. Although it is one of the country's largest lakes in terms of surface area, the lake only fills up from excessive rainfall. When the lake is not filled with water, it appears as a marsh. The area around Lake Carnegie is a desert environment.
4. Lake Mackay - 3,494 sq km
Lake Mackay is a naturally occurring lake in West Australia. It is the largest lake in Western Australia and ranks as the fourth largest in the country. The lake is named after Australian traveler Donald George Mackay. It is a salt lake that stretches from Western Australia to the Northern Territory. The lake covers an area of approximately 1,349 square miles and has an elevation of close to 1,210 feet above sea level. Lake Mackay only fills up during the seasonal rain period.
5. Lake Frome - 2,596 sq km
Lake Frome is also an endorheic lake. It is found in South Australia. Like others on this list, Lake Frome is only filled with water after rainfall. It is the southernmost salt lake in Australia.
The Importance of Lakes in Australia
The lakes in Australia are useful resources for the country. For example, some lakes are important sources of hydro-electric power. The lakes also provide scenic views to Australia’s landscape. Additionally, the Australian lakes serve as habitats for several species of fish and water plants. Australian authorities recognize the importance of these lakes and therefore protect the areas.