3300 kilometres to home

Coorong panorama
Panorama view of The Coorong

Big Red wound her way back home along the same route she had taken nine days earlier. Then we had simply driven by without stopping to gaze  at the landscape we were passing through.  Returning home we did. It’s a route we don’t often take. And never have we stopped to take a closer look.

Map of Coorong regionThe Coorong is a part of South Australia that has gained fame for many reasons. In the south east of the state, it overlooks the coastline from the mouth of the great River Murray for about 140  kilometres all the way to Kingston.

The name originates from the Aboriginal word kurangh meaning long neck. The Younghusband Peninsula does indeed resemble the shape of a long neck.

Coorong and old jetty

The landscape is starkly beautiful. Gone are the undulating rolling green velvet hills of the dairy pastures we saw in Victoria. In their place is low lying malleee scrub, sand dunes, dry salt pans and peeks of lagoons and beaches all beautiful in their own right.

In the early days of white settlement the river still supported healthy populations of waterfowl, mussels, cockles, salt and fresh water fish, turtles, kangaroos, possums, native fruits and vegetables. Concern for its protection eventually saw it added to the  World Heritage List. It is Australia’s second longest continuous beach. Also one of the wildest, facing west into prevailing winds and heavy south-west swells.

Storm Boy, a 1976 Australian film based on a children’s book by famed author Colin Thiele, was filmed in the Coorong. It is a story about the special bond between Mr Percival, a pelican, and a young boy who rescued it as a chick when it’s mother was killed. Mike, the young boy, was given the moniker Storm Boy by Fingerbone Bill, an Aboriginal man who also became his friend.

More recently Salt Creek in the Coorong gained notoriety for a whole other and more gruesome reason. Two young backpackers last February wanted a ride to see the Great Ocean Road.  They advertised on social media. A sixty year old South Australian man answered the ad. The trio travelled to Salt Creek and set up camp overnight in the sand dunes by the beach. And that’s when things went horribly wrong. The two young ladies were lucky to survive. The case went to court about a month ago. The accused was found guilty of kidnapping, endangering life, causing harm with intent to cause harm and assault charges.  Salt Creek is an isolated area where the only sign of habitation is a small local shop on the main road. That was fortunate for the girls. It was sobering driving past, knowing the recent history of the place.

I cannot understand why people take such high risks when backpacking. There have been other incidents elsewhere in Australia too over the last few years where the outcome has been far worse.

Coorong - pigface
A splash of red  –  native plant
Re-enactment plaque

In the middle of a ten kilometre scenic detour we found this large rock plaque commemorating a family who had lived in the middle of nowhere for over fifty years, carrying the mail. What a lonely life it must have been!

Low lying native plants like this small red shrub dotted the dry, grey dusty soil. It added a welcome splash of colour.

Corrong between the trees

The Coorong has a rich indigenous history that is intrinsic to the region. I will share some of that with you in the next post.

©  Raili Tanska

Steps for Peace

It is a good moment to repeat that a war is never won. Never mind that history books tell us the opposite. The psychological and material costs of war are so high that any triumph is a pyrrhic victory. Only peace can be won and winning peace means not only avoiding armed conflict but finding ways of eradicating the causes of individual and collective violence: injustice and oppression, ignorance and poverty, intolerance and discrimination. We must construct a new set of values and attitudes to replace the culture of war which, for centuries, has been influencing the course of civilization. Winning peace means the triumph of our pledge to establish, on a democratic basis, a new social framework of tolerance and generosity from which no one will feel excluded — Federico Mayor


26 thoughts on “3300 kilometres to home

    1. It’s a big country, with big wide, open spaces. When we drove to Western Australia many long years ago, all we could see was desert and a straight road that stretched all the way to the horizon. When we came to the first bend, we stopped and took a photo!

  1. I like my open spaces, but I do not think I could live that far in isolation. Back packing, especially alone carries great risks.. And there have been a few down under stories lately of tragedies..
    love that native shrub..
    Wishing you a Happy Week on your travels.. 🙂

      1. Nice thought, but my mum was addicted to gambling (I don’t usually talk about that) and I never encourage the habit in any way. I have a horror of gambling addiction…

      2. Perfectly understandable. Mum was like that too. Her father was addicted to alcohol and gambling. He bet the family home on a card game and lost. A family of 15 kids ended up living in a shoebox of a house.

      3. The things people gamble away! Now you mention this I remember reading about it and being shocked… and thinking how your grandmother must have had such a tough time.

      4. It would have been really hard. And the interesting thing is they stayed married. When he got sick, she looked after him to the last breath.

      5. That’s the way it was in those days. Women were often treated as inferiors, and described as being weak and feeble, when in reality they were rocks – or were attitudes different in Finland?

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