Aboriginal Heritage Walk, Sunday 16th March 2014
The opportunity to learn something of the 1983 discovery of Diprotodon bones at Loveday Bay and also to hear Aboriginal pre-settlement stories brought together a group of Friends of the Coorong members and friends. The “walking” tour involved a lot of driving but not actually much walking and was led by Peter and Meryl Mansfield. The first stop was a site close to Loveday Bay. The site of the original fossil discovery is now under water and any further exploration will have to wait until water levels recede. No-one is in any hurry for that to happen. Next stop was Wyungars Hill where Peter and Meryl talked of the tale of Waiyungari. Then followed a short drive to Raukkan where we spent time admiring the now famous “$50 note” church and the adjacent Raukkan Gallery. A short walk to the site of the original jetty completed the visit to Raukkan. The attendance for the day was the largest for any of the group’s events. A picnic lunch at the Narrung campsite completed the event.
Kangaroo Flat Short Walk, Sunday 29th June 2014
Despite the inclement weather an enthusiastic group turned up for the Friends of the Coorong short walk to the historic “Telegraph Station” at Kangaroo Flat on Sunday morning. The walk was organised by John and Irene Boundy. Whether or not the house on the rock was a part of the Adelaide Melbourne telegraph line of the 1850’s is uncertain; however the house does have a number of connections to the early development of South Australia.
The house was on the route of Alexander Tolmer’s gold escort as well as the stage coach route from Adelaide to Melbourne. It was fascinating to learn that the Boundy family were involved in the Victorian gold rush and that “Boundy gold’ was transported by the gold escort across land more recently owned by the family.
The house on the rock is now in a parlous and unsafe condition. Without serious conservation work, which is unlikely, the house will cease to exist before very much longer and a unique heritage item will disappear. Curiously it will be survived by the stone walls built to store water in a nearby granite outcrop. These outcrops are spread over a considerable area and are a defining feature of this location and a wonderful visual element of the landscape.
Following the walk to the house on the rock the group drove to the wonderfully named and nearby “Cold and Wet Station”, living up to its name on the day. We were met there by Neville Kernick, who talked to us about the history of the station, originally a part of the massive Coonalpyn Station. The old shed, which operated year round, was capable of shearing up to 90,000 sheep a year. Very early buildings are still a part of “Cold and Wet” and adjoining properties. We inspected the original shearing shed and its associated buildings, a bakery, a school and other outbuildings. Once again these beautiful and significant vernacular buildings are suffering from the extreme affects of time and weather and without conservation work will soon be beyond preservation.
Many of the people on the walk had strong family connections with the area and together we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the new Cold and Wet shearing shed.
Beautiful spring weather and the amazing Pangarinda Arboretum combined to make the Friends of the Coorong short walk last Sunday highly successful and enjoyable. Pam Gillen of the Friends arranged for John and Julie Barrie to talk about the development of the Arboretum. John described the successful collaboration of Coorong District Council, local businesses and importantly, volunteer support under the guidance of strong horticultural expertise. After the introductory talk members walked through the garden while John and Julie described the characteristics of numerous native species, many of which were in full flower. The event was completed with a BBQ kindly organised and prepared by Steve and Beryl Greig. The Friends showed their appreciation to the Barries with a gift of Leta Padman books, especially appropriate as Leta herself was one of those enjoying the event. Anybody driving through the Wellington Ferry Road area in the next few weeks would do well to visit the Arboretum while the plants are still in flower.
In the final short walk for 2014 the Friends of the Coorong met at Parnka Point under the able guidance of bird expert Jonathan Starks. The walk took in part of the eastern shore of the point and proceeded to one of the campsites on the western shore. A wide selection of bush birds, waterbirds and shorebirds were identified with detailed explanation of their habitats by Jonathan. In total, 32 different species were seen, or in some cases heard, a good number considering the warm summery conditions. Several members of the group were familiar with the previous history of the location and talked about its use as a dairy prior to conversion to a national park. The event concluded with a very enjoyable picnic lunch celebrating the commencement of the migratory bird season. Jonathan provided members with the following very informative background:
Parnka Point is a significant yet much under-recognised part of Coorong National Park. Also known as "Hell’s Gate", it forms the narrowest point in the Coorong and separates the northern and southern lagoons. The Point is well known for its birdlife. The critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot has been seen here on numerous occasions. The shallow and sheltered bays along the point are attractive habitat for shorebirds, including the migratory Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Common Greenshank.
Resident shorebirds worth watching out for include the Banded Stilt and Red-necked Avocet. Many species of waterbirds and waterfowl also inhabit the shallows around Parnka Point. Other birds of note are Emus, which can be found along the point and seen striding across the lagoon. Honeyeaters, fairy-wrens, scrubwrens, whistlers and cuckoos can also be found in the vegetation on the point.
In the early 1990s, a large-scale revegetation project was initiated on Parnka Point. This aimed to restore the native vegetation and increase habitat for wildlife, and the success of this huge effort can be seen in the lush plantings along the point. This walk explored some of the natural history stories of Parnka Point as told through its rich and diverse birdlife.