Monday, February 10, 2014

Road trip: Day 4 - The Coorong and lakes

It's taking me longer to write about our recent holiday than it took us to make the actual trip in the first place. I've been slack and it's also been too hot for me to want to go near my laptop.

On day four we continued exploring The Coorong and surrounds. We expected to see plenty of water birds because The Coorong is renowned for them, but we weren't really expecting to see emus.  We saw a pair walking across a salt pan a long way off in the distance as we drove by. "What's that?" "Emus!" Not that we hadn't seen emus before, but I don't think I've seen them in the wild.

We saw their footprints on the beach where we stopped soon after seeing them, although I hesitate to use the word 'beach'...

Ew. Sticky, stinky mud. It's rapidly becoming a rule that we can't go on holidays without me falling in something (e.g. a creek in Tasmania) or stepping in something (e.g. dog poo in Paris, within hours of landing).  Luke laughed and laughed and laughed. I laughed too, just not as much as he did.

Fortunately my foot slipped out of my sandal mostly mud-free and I was able to wash the sandal in the handbasin of a nearby toilet block before sitting it on the dash of the car to dry in the sun.

When we returned to the car I was startled by a snake sheltering under our car. Well, I thought it was a snake at first, but quickly realised it was only a lizard. A fat, stumpy-tail.

Luke had to move the car because Stumpy didn't seem to have plans to go anywhere. Luke came back over to have a closer look at the lizard and it crawled into his shadow. It wasn't particularly hot, so we think it might have been seeking protection from birds of prey. But we couldn't stay there all day sheltering it.

We visited various points along along the lagoons, traversing many dirt and gravel roads. We saw more pelicans, although nowhere near as many as you'd see in the area during breeding season.

Cleared for take-off

We visited another look-out area which was weird and a little creepy. A strange, dense, textile-like substance the colour of hessian had apparently washed ashore and bunched up along where the "beach" meets the scrub. 

But that's not the creepy bit. This is:  


This wasn't the only dead fish - I spotted about a dozen on about a 15 metre stretch of beach/hessian stuff and on the grassy/scrub, long dead and mostly skeletonised. Maybe fisherman had discarded the fish due to their undesirability and birds had picked their bones? 

This was where I encountered my first (and only) snake for the trip. It was lying near a bush on the edge of the beach, but when it heard or felt me approach it whipped into the shrub so fast I heard it more than saw it. I was about two metres away so I didn't feel in any danger. 

Next we drove around the western shore of Lake Albert up to the Raukkan Community, a settlement established by the Ngarrindjeri people 150 years ago on the banks of Lake Alexandrina. This is where David Unaipon, a preacher, writer and inventor who graces the $50 note, lived and ministered to his flock. The little church above his shoulder on the $50 note still stands and is very well looked after. 

You might recognise it better front on, which is how it appears on the currency. It's called the Point McLeay church. 

We took the ferry across The Narrows, which joins Lake Alexandrina (at the top in the photo below) and Lake Albert (at the bottom). 

Hidden behind the ferry is Malcolm Point and its wee little lighthouse (I know, not very useful. We didn't stop for photos either). It's no longer operational, but it remains Australia's only inland lighthouse - possibly the only inland lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere. 

That night we had an early dinner at the pub in the tiny town of Wellington on the banks of the Murray River and then headed back to Meningie with a few detours to take photos. 

Sunset over Lake Albert 

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