New Year’s Day 2011

New Year revelry

The new year begins with ham and eggs on hot, buttered muffins for breakfast at our Hindmarsh Island home before we take our friends on a tourist drive of Goolwa over the bridge from where we live.

Goolwa is a river port, the last town before the River Murray reaches the sea, and on New Year’s Day, the pretty riverside village is brimming with people.

However, the wharf is the tourist hub of Goolwa and we choose to take coffee there at Hector’s café. The large, modern cruiser, Spirit of the Coorong is moored alongside taking on supplies for its boatload of tourists, who will take the boat tour into the Coorong. The river today is choppy, the sky overcast, but

We walk along the wharf to watch the paddle steamer “Oscar W’’ steam towards us, hooting its imminent arrival.  It is the oldest steam-driven paddle steamer still in operation. They  slip on the gang plank and a stream of tourists disembark. Behind the building, a train engine chugs into the Goolwa Station to hitch onto the four old carriages of the Goolwa railway, which will take tourists to  Victor Harbour today.

We down our  drinks and drive along the shoreline to the barrage, which is news right now because it has opened its sleuth gates for the first time in eight years.

Two weeks ago we were on the water here yachting with friends from the Goolwa Regatta Yacht Club and as we approached the barrage, we could see through to the other side where a lone pelican floated by.

Today here are many more pelicans and sea wood ducks – all fishing for the schools of fish on the sea side of the barrage. Fishing is forbidden to humans for 150 metres allowing the birds to feed.

The wood ducks are feasting, disappearing momentarily under the surface of the churning waters while the pelicans simply dip their huge beaks into the sea, lift them up and the fish slides down.

We drive further along into the Coorong, a national park, where there is prolific birdlife.  Black swans outnumber the pelicans, whose numbers have diminished here because they have all flown north to Lake Eyre.  There is a lone white faced heron and seagulls galore swoop around in glee.

We drive past the sand dunes and stop the other side of the barrage to watch as the cruiser Spirit of Coorong, glides past us into the Coorong itself, a unique stretch of watery wilderness. It runs behind the Younghusband Peninsula, a sliver of land which separates it from the Southern Ocean. The whole region, the River Murray Mouth, the Lakes Albert and Alexandrina and the Coorong have been very stressed as a result of the 10 years of drought.

But today, the river flows straight through the barrage and it is a wonderful sight on this New Year’s Day as it too, brings renewal.

Be Sociable, Share!

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply