Lake Carnegie (Western Australia)

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Lake Carnegie
Lake carnegie.jpg
View from space 19 May 1999
Location Western Australia
Coordinates 26°10′S 122°30′E / 26.167°S 122.500°E / -26.167; 122.500Coordinates: 26°10′S 122°30′E / 26.167°S 122.500°E / -26.167; 122.500
Type ephemeral
Basin countries Australia
Surface area 5,714 square kilometres (2,206 sq mi)

Lake Carnegie is an ephemeral lake in Western Australia.

The lake is approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) in length and approximately 30 kilometres (19 mi) at its widest part. It has a total area of approximately 5,714 square kilometres (2,206 sq mi),[1][2] making it one of the largest lakes in Australia.

It fills with water only during very rare periods of significant rainfall, such as during the huge 1900 floods and in numerous recent tropical wet seasons when the monsoon and tropical cyclones have been moved south by recent climate change. In dry years, it is reduced to a muddy marsh.

In 1973 Tropical Cyclone Kerry crossed the north-west coast and moved south-west as far as the northern goldfields. Nearby pastoral leases such as Windidda Station received falls of 310 millimetres (12 in) and Prenti Downs received 209 millimetres (8 in) over a four-day period. The run-off was enormous, causing widespread flooding, with the Lake overflowing, leaving the area between Carnegie and Wiluna being described as "one huge lake".[3]

Water entering the lake, unlike in more easterly playas of the Australian arid zone, does not come from well-defined river channels since the soils of the region are so weathered – lacking tectonic or glacial activity since the Carboniferous ice ages – that sediment is completely absent and the terrain so flat that only the most unweatherable rocks remain on the surface and well-defined river channels cannot form, especially since the extreme age of the soils and consequent high rooting density of native flora limits runoff to an extreme extent.

The lake is named after David Carnegie, who explored much of inland Western Australian in the 1890s.[4]


  1. ^ "Largest Lake in Australia". Travel Australia. 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Lake Carnegie". Bonzle. 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Severe Tropical Cyclone Kerry". Bureau of Meteorology. 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "Land systems: an Australian invention". Bush Heritage Australia. 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.