Lake Eyre Basin

Lake Eyre Basin is one of the world’s largest internally draining systems covering about 1.2 million square kilometres, almost one-sixth of Australia. The Lake Eyre Basin includes large parts of South Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and some of western New South Wales. Lake Eyre is the fifth largest terminal lake in the world.

Lake Eyre Basin—map (PDF—535 KB)

See description below. 

The Lake Eyre Basin is an area of high conservation significance that supports:

  • wetlands, for example the Ramsar listed Coongie Lakes
  • grasslands and deserts, e.g. Simpson Desert National Park
  • rare and endangered plants, for example Kowari and Waddi Waddi trees (Acacia peuce)
  • rare and endangered animals, for example greater bilby.

Lake Eyre Basin Agreement

The Australian Government is working with the Queensland, South Australian and Northern Territory governments and the Lake Eyre Basin community to implement the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement. The Agreement provides for the sustainable management of the water and related natural resources associated with the cross-border river systems in the Lake Eyre Basin.

The Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement Act (2001) was signed by Ministers of the Australian, Queensland, South Australian and Northern Territory governments. The purpose of this Agreement is to provide for the development or adoption, and implementation of Policies and Strategies concerning water and related natural resources in the Lake Eyre Basin Agreement Area to avoid or eliminate so far as reasonably practicable adverse cross-border impacts.

State of the Basin Condition Assessment 2016

Under the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement, the condition of all watercourses and catchments within the Lake Eyre Basin is to be reviewed every 10 years.

The draft 2016 State of the Basin Condition Assessment report was developed in consultation with Australian, State and Territory governments, natural resource management bodies, research institutions, the Lake Eyre Basin Community Advisory Committee, the Lake Eyre Basin Scientific Advisory Panel, communities and landholders.

The first condition assessment was the State of the Basin 2008: Rivers Assessment. This report was a desk top analysis of limited data available from government agencies, natural resource management boards and research reports. It used the available data on the basin’s hydrology, water quality, fish and waterbirds as condition indicators and found that the rivers and catchments were in generally good condition.

The 2016 draft State of the Basin Condition Assessment reports on the current status of the hydrology, water quality, and fish and water birds populations of the Lake Eyre Basin and on the current and emerging threats to the Basin. Information has been sourced from monitoring activities performed under the Lake Eyre Basin Rivers Assessment programme, government agencies, natural resource management boards and other research available. The consultation process for the draft report was held from 22 May 2017 to 30 June 2017. Feedback from the consultation process will be considered in the finalisation of the report. The final report is due to be completed in 2017 for Minister’s consideration.

Further information on the Lake Eyre Basin visit the Lake Eyre Basin website

Upcoming Review of the Agreement in 2017

Under the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement (the Agreement) the Ministerial Forum, comprising of Australian, State and Territory Ministers responsible for water, must perform a review of the Agreement every 10 years. The last review of the Agreement occurred in 2008.

The review will look at the operation of the Agreement and the extent to which the objectives identified in the Agreement have been achieved and consider possible changes to improve the effectiveness of the Agreement, reflect new knowledge, emerging issues and institutional frameworks.

The review will be performed by the Australian, Queensland, South Australian and Northern Territory governments in consultation with those who live in, work in, or who have business or other interests in the Basin.

Further information will be published on this website as it becomes available.

More information

See the Lake Eyre Basin for more information on the Lake Eyre Basin and relevant state and regional processes.