I really enjoyed our class camp last week to Hindmarsh Island, near Goolwa on the Fleurieu Peninsula. It was good to get to know my students some more in a different environment away from the classroom but I enjoyed the opportunity to step away from the lead teacher role and become an active learner for several days. I really enjoyed listening to, noticing and observing things from the camp instructors.
So for this blog post, I just want to share a few images from the three days from my perspective as a learner who has not really taken the time to find out about this interesting and vital area of South Australia.
This is the controversial Hindmarsh Island Bridge. I took the photo from the middle of the Murray River and the effects of the driest spell in recorded history are pretty obvious. Nathan, our guide for the “Murray River Walk” told us that the water level was two metres below normal levels and the salinity levels had given rise to a new issue - the bristleworm. There was castings growth from these creatures attached to the lower pylons of the bridge for the first time and what looked like rocks on the sandflats of the river were actually also castings growth on a variety of objects ranging from turtle shells to beer bottles to rusty metal pins and mussel shells.
You can see the castings growth on the metal pin held here by one of the students.
We also visited the Murray Mouth where the most important river in Australia finally connects with the sea. This is also a place in a state of flux. When the river isn’t flowing freely into the Southern Ocean (as is the case currently) sand builds up in the mouth, threatening to seal it off completely. From our viewpoint, we could see several dredges, giant vaccum cleaners sucking sand from the floor of the mouth and dumping it all back in another area nearby via lengthy black plastic piping.
Nathan, our instructor, told us that the Mouth is normally much wider - from the left peak to at least the white fluffy cloud is normally flow into the ocean. From the left is the world famous Coorong (think Storm Boy if you know your classic Australian films).
This photo sums up the Murray’s plight in my opinion. Here we have a paddle steamer, similar to the type that cruised all the way down from the sheep stations up on the Darling River system, onto the Murray and down to the port of Goolwa, beached on the shores of the Murray because the water just isn’t deep enough any more. So, it is time to ask the students “Why is this happening?”