Lake Amadeus

Lake Amadeus (Pitjantjatjara: Pantu) is a huge salt lake in the southwest corner of Australia's Northern Territory, about 50 km north of Uluru.

Due to the aridity of the area, the surface of Lake Amadeus is usually a dry salt crust. In times of sufficient rainfall, it is part of an east-flowing drainage system that eventually connects to the Finke River. Lake Amadeus is 180 km long and 10 km wide, making it the largest salt lake in the Northern Territory. It contains up to 600 million tonnes of salt; however, harvesting it has not proved viable, owing to its remote location.

The first European to discover the lake was the explorer Ernest Giles, who had originally intended to honour his benefactor Baron Ferdinand von Mueller with the eponym Lake Ferdinand. However Mueller prevailed upon Giles to instead honour King Amadeo I of Spain (known in English as King Amadeus I), who had previously bestowed honour on him. The lakes expanse was a barrier for Giles who could see both the as yet un-discovered Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta but could not reach them as the dry lake bed wasn't able to support the weight of the horses. The next year, William Gosse climbed and named both rises.

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The lakes are predominantly Aboriginal freehold land held by three Aboriginal land trusts (Petermann, Katiti and Haasts Bluff). A small portion on the western end of the Site is pastoral leasehold land (Curtin Springs). The main land use within the Site is Indigenous. Lake Amadeus is a largely uninhabitable environment, however you may still be lucky enough to see herds of wild camels making their way across the salty plains. The increase in the number of camels is of greatest concern.

Six threatened species are recorded from the Site including one plant (quandong), three birds (Emu, Malleefowl and Princess Parrot), and two mammals (Brush-tailed Mulgara and Sandhill Dunnart). Islands within Lake Amadeus and hollow-bearing trees are likely to be significant for nesting birds during periods of inundation.

A number of tours out of Alice Springs include Lake Amadeus in their itineraries.

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