Other water resources
In the arid river system, waterholes of varying permanence become the key refuges for aquatic habitat as they endure brief periods of flowing water and prolonged periods of no flow. The larger, permanent sites are critically important for aquatic habitat to resist extended drought phases and enable them to bounce back in the wet phase.
The Cullyamurra and Algebuckina waterholes are the largest in the SA Arid Lands region. Cullyamurra is a permanent waterhole located in the Cooper Creek catchment about 10 kilometres from Innamincka in the far north-east of South Australia and is part of the Innamincka Regional Reserve. Cullyamurra is the most important refuge waterhole in the Arid Lands region and is approximately 30 metres deep in some sections, supporting up to 12 different native fish species and an important safe haven during the ‘bust’ or drought years. Algebuckina Waterhole is situated on the Neales River about 55 kilometres south-east of Oodnadatta. It is a permanent waterhole that in times of drought, long after other waterholes have become dry, it provides a critical safe haven for fish, birds and other native animals. For tourists travelling the Oodnadatta Track, it is the location of the longest bridge in South Australia which took the Ghan train over the Neales River en route between Adelaide and Darwin.
Rock holes are a surface water feature where water is held in a rock or rocky area. Rock holes are of significant value to Aboriginal people living in arid areas of Australia. They provide a crucial water supply in an otherwise dry landscape where there is little permanent surface water, assisting in travel across the landscape and access to a larger range of resources. In the early years of pastoralism, before the advent of bores and wells, they were also important water resources for stock.
Bore fed wetlands
In some areas of the region, artificial wetlands were created from free-flowing bores drilled into the Great Artesian Basin. Some of these wetlands are over a 100 years old and support a variety of plants and animals, including those species that depend on water in the arid zone. Since 1999 the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative
has been implemented to control free-flowing wells to protect the access to the groundwater resource for all users, including groundwater dependent ecosystems. Those artificial wetlands that remain, all have different purposes and are valued by the local community and visitors to the region. The bore-fed wetlands are wetlands that contribute to the social, recreational and amenity value of the SA Arid Lands region, especially along the Oodnadatta and Birdsville tracks where visitors to the region can experience these unique places.
Springs occur naturally where underground water (groundwater) discharges to the surface, or where the natural or modified topography of a watercourse, wetland or lake intersects the underground water table. In additional to the Great Artesian Basin springs, the region is also dotted with other springs that are permanent or semi-permanent in nature.