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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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
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