Here’s an exciting bit of news. Lake Eyre in South Australia is filling and the Lake Eyre Yacht Club’s sailing regatta started on 5 July. So what, you may ask! Well, Lake Eyre is in the middle of one of the driest deserts in the world. It virtually never rains there and most of the time, the ‘lake’ is one huge dry salt pan.
But just a few times per century, the rainfall many kilometres away is heavy enough to fill the dry river beds of Cooper Creek, Finke River, Georgina River and Diamantina River. These ‘rivers’ drain about one sixth of the whole of Australia (about the size of Germany, France, Italy combined) – but a sixth where rainfall is normally very low. But this season’s rains have been exceptionally high; the rivers are flowing – and the lake is filling.
When the lake does fill, it teems with life. Fish eggs that have lain buried in the salt for years hatch. Sea birds fly in nearly 1000 kilometres from the Southern Ocean. And it’s then that the enthusiasts come to play.
What’s this got to do with economics? Well economics is about scarcity and choice. Many of the choices we make are not simple buying and selling choices. Many clubs and other organisations thrive on the enthusiasm of their members. They’re not there to make money but certainly add to people’s ‘utility’. And enthusiasm, and hope, is what the members of the Lake Eyre Yacht Club have in abundance. Let’s hope they get lots of utility from sailing in the desert over the coming weeks.
Outback Sailors 10 News (6/7/10)
Floods and boat race brings life to desert lake ABC News (7/7/10)
Flightseeing Lake Eyre Stuff.co.nz, James Shrimpton (25/5/10)
Gone (not fishing) flying over Lake Eyre Australian Daily Telegraph, Maralyn Parker (6/6/10)
The Lake Eyre Yacht Club Lounge of the Lab Lemming, Chuck Magee (21/3/10)
Lake Eyre Regatta ExplorOz, The Landy blog (14/6/10)
Boom follows boom in the Lake Eyre Basin ABC Western Queensland, Julia Harris (23/3/10)
Entries flood in for rare outback regatta ABC News (23/6/10)
Yacht club sails into history with a desert regatta The Age (7/7/10)
Chasing water to Lake Eyre ABC Rural, Caitlyn Gribbin (6/7/10)
Lake Eyre brims with life ABC News, Paul Lockyer (15/6/10)
Yachting regatta in Australian desert for first time in 20 years Telegraph, Bonnie Malkin (7/7/10)
Plain sailing for desert regatta Gulf Times (7/7/10)
- What attitude do the members of Lake Eyre Yacht Club have towards risk and uncertainty?
- How would you set about estimating the consumer surplus that members are likely to gain from attending the regatta and sailing on the lake?
- How price elastic would you expect the demand for and supply of services to be, such as ferry crossings and accommodation?
- What business opportunities are likely to be associated with sailing on the lake? Would it be ‘rational’ to set up such a business?