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GAB SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE
Most open bores similar to this one have now been replaced by pipes.
The first artesian flowing bore was drilled into the Great Artesian Basin (GAB)
in 1878, and at one stage there were some 4700 of these bores, many flowing
openly into drains. Flows peaked at more than 3000 megalitres per day in 1915.
In 1999 Australian and State Governments began a
15-year program known as the GAB Sustainability Initiative (GABSI) to cap
free-flowing bores and replace open drains with pipes.
As this program heads towards completion, it has achieved by mid-2013, the
capping of over 1,143 wells, the removal of more than 24,843km of bore drains
that have been replaced by around 27,000km of piping. This has resulted in an
annual water saving of 191,862 megalitres.
Apart from conserving water the program has delivered many benefits to the
environment, pastoralists and the broader community.
Travellers Welcome to Country. We acknowledge and respect the traditional custodians
whose ancestral lands we are travelling on today. We acknowledge the deep feelings of
attachment and relationship of Aboriginal peoples to country. We also pay respect to the
cultural authority of other Aboriginal groups whose country we may travel on during our
journey in this region.
Legendary tracks of the Marree-Innamincka District
The Birdsville Track,
The Strzelecki Track
The Birdsville and Strzelecki Tracks became
legendary stock routes in the latter half of the
19th century and early 20th century as pastoralism
established itself in the arid centre of Australia.
Long before that, however, they were part of
ancient Aboriginal trails for trade, custom and
their existence. In a land where all human activity
depends on the presence of water, both routes have
been defined by a succession of watering places.
The region resonates with images of the colourful
and legendary tales of explorers, adventurers and
pastoralists who pioneered this country.
The Great Artesian Basin
Beneath the inhospitable surface lies an ancient
water source that sustains wildlife, a significant
pastoral industry, a strong mining industry,
Australia’s largest inland oil and gas field, towns
like Birdsville and Marree, and a thriving tourism
The Great Artesian Basin (GAB) is one of
the largest groundwater basins in the world,
underlying 22% of the Australian continent.
Groundwater naturally discharges from the basin
via diffuse upward leakage and spring discharge.
Pumping and discharge from bores over the last
100 years has also added a significant level of
discharge. Recharge occurs around the margins
of the basin with most of the current recharge
occurring on the eastern margin. The western
margin currently receives very little local recharge
and only partial recharge from the east. However,
the basin is vast and it is this reserve of water
that maintains the springs through these dry
The springs have been discharging GAB water
for at least one million years during which the
climate has changed dramatically around them.
They occur in the driest parts of Australia and
provide oases for unique aquatic life forms. The
ecological communities dependent on natural
GAB discharge are listed as ‘endangered’ under
the Australian Environment Protection and
Biodiversity Conservations (EPBC) Act 1999.
These communities include the amazing diversity
of unique and relict flora and fauna that are found
in the springs of the Oodnadatta track.
The Lake Eyre Basin
Lying over the GAB is yet another basin... the
Lake Eyre Basin, which covers approximately one
sixth of Australia. To the south is a long stretch of
dry salt lakes dominated by Lake Eyre lying 15
metres below sea level.
This basin also contains one of the world’s last
unregulated great river systems where there is
no significant intervention by dams, weirs or other
man-made structures. Rivers are filled with water
from peak monsoonal rains in Queensland and
drain towards Lake Eyre. The passage of water
into Lake Eyre takes many months, rarely filling
it completely; although on average some water
reaches it every eight years.
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