More Water Saves Mighty Murray

It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment  at, arguably, Australia’s most controversial spot – the mouth of the mighty River Murray.

Today, the mouth is open and a mere sliver of blue waters run from the river to the sea, but until recently, dredging machines 24 hours a day were needed to stop it silting over.

We are aboard the Spirit of the Coorong and from here I notice countless pelicans on the sandhills, flapping their wings for flight and seals splashing  their flippers in the river.  As the pelicans lift off I capture this wonderful wildlife to remind us that the river is habitat to myriad bird species, fish, emus, kangaroos and turtles.

It is the here that the deteriorating  river system has manifested so profoundly that built-up silt and sand closed over the river mouth  in 2002.

It threatened disaster for the river, the third largest navigable river in the world, and particularly, the delicate Coorong.  However, today floodwaters have naturally flushed open the river’s mouth and the dredging machines have been removed.

“There is 40 feet of water below us now at the Murray Mouth and that’s the way we must keep it if the river is to be healthy,’’ says Captain Bain Pedler, who has been taking tourists from Goolwa to the Coorong for 30 years.

This cruise was a highlight of our 12-month sea-change on Hindmarsh Island, a man-made riverside marina where we loved watching  the swans, herons, pelicans and plovers.

Australia’s longest river is beautiful, dotted with ancient river gums, national parks, river towns and magnificent limestone cliffs.   Its irrigation system provides the “food bowl of the nation’’ and vineyards, orchards and olive groves create a lush spectacle of fertility.  Its unique landscapes include the Murraylands,  the distinctive Mallee scrub and wetlands.

our adult children canoeing on the River


Riverside communities rely on river water for their livelihood and have watched alarmed at the decline in river health.

Over-irrigation upstream from SA and the effects of the 10-year-long  drought have stressed  the river causing deterioration of its banks, drying up of wetlands and closure of the mouth.

Political leaders have listened to the war of words about the river’s  critical state – and the first national plan to save Australia’s most important river system  has been signed into law. It guarantees 3200GL will be returned to the river by 2024 to restore its health. It reflects understanding that whatever happens along the Murray-Darling Basin impacts at the Murray Mouth 2520 km away.

The Advertiser must be congratulated for its community campaign “I Love the Murray’’ which has  helped achieve this legislation in Federal Parliament.

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