December 2014: Lake Benanee

Hah! Caught you in the sunlight Lake Benanee! Enjoy some of the more beautiful photos taken by the ample supply of grey nomad photographers here. Lake Benanee was an important place and resource for Aboriginal people in the past – it was a burial ground, it was a place of conflict between Aboriginal people and Major Mitchell and Aboriginal objects from this location have made their way into collections across Australia.

The Mildura Arts Centre and the Rio Vista House

The roads (and planes) in my life often lead to Mildura on the banks of the Murray River. Population of around 30,000. Award winning vanilla slices, an excellent Thai restaurant, one of the many stomping grounds of Big Lizzie, riverboats, wine and all the amenities one needs to set out on an adventure to the Murray/Murrumbidgee/Darling Rivers wonderland. In a July visit this year, I visited the Rio Vista Homestead, once the home of the Chaffey Brothers and now a regional art gallery and museum. I learnt interesting things about irrigation, took in some art and then nursed a cup of tea as I read Mildura Living and eavesdropped on other people’s conversations.

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June 2014 – Calpernum Station

Quandong cheesecake with wattle seed balsamic toffee. Local produce, research and land management. More Murray River fun times!
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June 2014 – Todd’s Obelisk

Todd’s Obelisk (Source: Murray-Darling Basin Authority http://images.mdba.gov.au/displayimage.php?album=133&pos=34)

The day I stood at the boundary marker of South Australia and New South Wales, ate a mandarin and exchanged sarcastic comments with a pretty awesome German PhD candidate who had been busy drilling holes in the Murrumbidgee to date it. Worse ways to spend a day.

June 2014 – Kulcurna Station

Beaut lunch at Kulcurna Station, currently owned by the Hansens. Goat stew, golden syrup dumpling, river gums, the red cliffs of the Murray River.  Back in the day, one of the homestead owners developed drought resistant strains of wheat and put crops in the bed of the river during times of drought (Hansen 2010, Postcards SA). Sadly my camera died so no photos but you can check out Kulcurna’s blog or their photo  gallery or a Kulcurna postcard or sunphio’s Kulcurna flickr album

 

June 2014 – Moorna Station

Moorna Station. Source: Wentworth Shire Council (http://www.wentworth.nsw.gov.au/heritage/study/appendix5.php?id=76)

One of the stops on our tour of the Murray River was Moorna Station. The Moorna Homestead on the station was constructed in 1869 on the Murray River by William Crozer, near to the remains of Moorna town which was once the administrative centre of the Wentworth Shire and an important paddleboat wharf in the 1850s. Today it is a working property owned and managed by Annabel Walsh, a member of the Australian Rangeland Society, whose passion for land management has led to innovations in timed grazing, improving carbon content in soils and taken her to countries such as Mongolia to promote  healthy rangelands. To see more pictures of life on Moorna Station, visit the Land and to read more about the significance of the Moorna homestead and the history Wentworth Shire, visit the Wentworth Shire Council.

June 2014 – Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria, downstream of the Murray-Darling river junction in New South Wales, fed by Frenchman’s Creek, an anabranch of the Murray River, flows into the Rufus River. The Lake became regulated in 1928 and is now operated by the South Australia Water Corporation on behalf of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission. The lake retained water over the last 10,000 years at a time when many of the inland lakes were drying up in this arid region.It provided an off river storage and is used to store surplus water which can then be used to regulate the flow of water into South Australia and to manage salinity. The Lake is significant as it, its lunette and the surrounding creeks and rivers, hold an important cultural and archaeological record of the last 16,000 years of human occupation, from shell middens dating to 17,000 BP to the history of the Rufus River massacre of 1841 to the Barkindji people’s continuing connection to the lake. The archaeological record includes an enormous number of Aboriginal burials, shell middens, campsites and stone artefacts. Many sites have been inundated by the water storage and work is ongoing by the Murray Darling Basin Commission and the Aboriginal community to preserve and repatriate burials when they become exposed. TheDepartment of Environment provides a leaping off point to explore more about indigenous involvement in the management of Lake Victoria.

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Creating a chronology of the Murrumbidgee River

And now for something a little different. In June and July this year,  I found myself at a conference on paleoclimate, landscapes, vegetation, humans and ended up bumping along dirt roads in a mini bus visiting many curious locations with a very interesting bunch of researchers. How old our our rivers and landscapes? How did climate change affect that landscape? Where did all the dust and water come from and where did it go? Below are some photos of two locations where researchers such as Page, Nanson and Price (1996) gathered dates showing five phases of paleochannel activity along the  Murrumbidgee area of the Riverine Plain of southeastern Australia. The first two phases suggest greater fluvial activity and reduced dust activity followed by seasonal snow melts and increased peak flows after the last Glacial Maximum and the build up of source bordering aeolian dunes. Finally the present flow regime was established around 12,000 years ago.  Researchers continue to gather dates and look for environmental proxies (such as pollen and fossils) to help create a more detailed picture of what was happening and this information helps inform how we manage our water systems and groundwater, helps create a context for the movement of humans and other species across the landscape and other intriguing things.

Read more about it from here:

PAGE, K., NANSON, G. and PRICE, D. (1996), Chronology of Murrumbidgee River palaeochannels on the Riverine Plain, southeastern Australia. J. Quaternary Sci., 11: 311–326

Lake Mungo 2010

Back in the days when you didn’t need a guide to walk all over the Walls of China, I walked all over the Walls of China. Some background info on the Lake Mungo World Heritage Area.

Sunset on the Kidman Way Highway

You may or may not have noticed a little bit of a trend happening on this blog. Sunrises, sunsets, scenery – none of the Aboriginal sites and places that caused me to be in these remote locations in the first place. Alas, confidentiality agreements for commercial projects prevent sharing these photos with the wider world. Even if there wasn’t such a restriction I would also have to consider whether sharing those photos would place heritage items at risk and whether the local Aboriginal community associated with those sites would see such an action as appropriate. So, here’s a snapshot of sunset of the Kidman Way highway en-route from Hillston to Griffith!

My photography skills didn’t do it any justice. Next time I’ll try and remember to take two photos – one which captures the red soil and one which captures the sky. I hear there’s this thing called Photoshop which is popular with the kids these days.