Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Home again.

After more than a week away in South Australia, I'm glad to be home again. I had a great time with family and friends, got to know my brother's grand-children a bit more, did a little shopping at a couple of quilt shops, and went to the wonderful Country Bumpkin needlework shop which is also the home of Inspirations magazine. I enjoyed several meals or coffees in interesting restaurants, a visit to the Willunga Farmer's Market where I bought delicious dried peaches and locally grown almonds, a trip to Hahndorf, and briefly helped in my nephew's vineyard by driving a Gator - one of these six wheeled all terrain vehicles while he and his Dad stapled wires to posts for newly planted vines.

It rained constantly, but no-one complained because water, or the lack of it is a hot topic of conversation in South Australia, and particularly in Goolwa where I was staying. The Murray River enters the sea at Goolwa, and in the past it had a busy wharf where paddle steamers that brought wool and other goods from inland unloaded, and in more recent times it has been a centre for fishing and all things boating, including the famous biennial Wooden Boat Festival . The river flow is now much reduced, its level is at least a metre lower than normal, and the Murray mouth has shrunk to a narrow gap in sand dunes and a trickle of water. This is due to water being pumped out for irrigation purposes, both legal and illegal, up stream in S.A., NSW and Victoria, so the river and lower lakes of the Coorong are being permanently damaged. There are problems of silt and increasing salinity which are affecting wildlife and fish, and it is thought that it may be too late to save Lake Alexandrina from becoming a smelly acidic swamp. On Sunday last, there was a public protest held on the Hindmarsh Island bridge attended by at least 3000 people asking that the Government takes action to buy back or compulsorily acquire the water rights from properties along the Murray, and to release water from reservoirs in a last ditch attempt to prevent permanent environmental damage - but it seems unlikely that this will happen and a spectacular area will be gone for good.

These photos are of my brother's jetty and the river's edge as it now is - the last time I was in Goolwa there was water below it and one could easily moor a boat. Now, sadly, it is just a smelly muddy swamp.

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