Lake Eyre, Australia's biggest salt lake, continues to experience bumper years as a tourist attraction. Thanks to significant rainfall beginning in 2009, it has slowly filled and brought the surrounding desert to burgeoning and magnificent life. A visit to the natural wonder also takes travelers to the very heart of the man-made Outback, the legendary Birdsville and Oodnadatta tracks, the old Ghan railway and their tiny human habitations, some abandoned, some still clinging to life, trading on their Outback image. Last summer KIERAN FINNANE returned to the site of her earliest encounter with "the Outback" – Marree, linked to Alice Springs by shared explorer, Afghan cameleer and railway histories. Many in Alice believe that our town's Outback image has taken a big dent in the last three decades at the hands of planners and developers and inadequate heritage protection. Marree looks to have shared a similar fate, though from an absence of attention rather than too much development zeal.