Lake Carnegie (Western Australia)

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Lake Carnegie
Lake Carnegie WA 0217.svg
Location Goldfields-Esperance, 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
Max. length 100 km (62 mi)
Max. width 30 km (19 mi)
Surface area 5,714 km2 (2,206 sq mi)
Surface elevation 439 m (1,440 ft)

Lake Carnegie is a large ephemeral lake in the Shire of Wiluna in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia. The lake is named after David Carnegie, who explored much of inland Western Australia in the 1890s.[1][2][3][4] A similar lake lies to its south east - Lake Wells.


Lake Carnegie is predominately surrounded by desert environments.[5]

It lies east of Wiluna and is at the southern edge of the Little Sandy Desert and south western border of the Gibson Desert. It is to the north-east of Leonora. It also lies to the north west of the Great Central Road and the Great Victoria Desert. It lies to the north of the main goldfields region of Western Australia.[6]

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),[7][8] making it one of the largest lakes in Australia. The surface elevation is 439 m (1,440 ft) above mean sea-level.[9]

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".[10]

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.

Pastoral leases[edit]

The lake area is bounded by Windidda, Yelma, Wongawel, Niminga, Carnegie and Prenti Downs pastoral leases, otherwise known in Western Australia as stations.[11]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Through WA Deserts.". Kalgoorlie Western Argus. Kalgoorlie, Western Australia: National Library of Australia. 10 March 1898. p. 11. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Land systems: an Australian invention". Bush Heritage Australia. 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Carnegie, David W. (David Wynford) (1973), Spinifex and sand : a narrative of five years pioneering and exploration in Western Australia (facsimile ed.), Penguin Books Australia, ISBN 978-0-14-070036-7 
  4. ^ Peasley, W. J. (William John); Peasley, William J (2013), In the hands of providence : the desert journeys of David Carnegie, Carlisle, Western Australia Hesperian press, ISBN 978-0-85905-530-7 
  5. ^ Beard, J.S. (1969) The Natural Regions of the Deserts of Western Australia Journal of Ecology, 1 November 1969, Vol.57(3), pp.677-711
  6. ^ Western Australia. Dept. of Mines. Title [Portion of Western Australian goldfields]. Litho. no. 114. Sheet 3 [cartographic material][Perth, W.A. : Dept. of Mines?], 1906.Notes Shows roads, tracks, stock routes, railroads, topography and mining area boundaries. Relief shown by hachures and spot heights.1.10.06" Covers in the East from Doolgunna south to Lakes Barlee and Giles to a western line from Lake Carnegie south to Edjudina Soak. Held in Battye Library
  7. ^ "Largest Lake in Australia". Travel Australia. 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Lake Carnegie". Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Geoscience Australia elevation data portal
  10. ^ "Severe Tropical Cyclone Kerry". Bureau of Meteorology. 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Linke, Gladys (1996), And if her droughts are bitter, Hesperian Press, ISBN 978-0-85905-228-3  - Linke's book included time living at Carnegie station, which is located to the north east of the Lake