By the Banks of the Murray River, South Australia, September 2022

Murray River Views

My latest exploration has taken me to south central Australia on a houseboat aboard the mighty Murray River. This great brown artery is the lifeline of much of Australia’s agriculture and foodbowl of the southern states and an historic highway which used to be plied by paddle steamers transporting wool from the inland sheep stations in the 1800s.

Murray River panorama

The Murray River is Australia’s largest river system that travels over 2000 km across southeastern Australia to end in the Indian Ocean. It’s flow and basin ecosystem are in gentle balance highlighted by the fact that the annual total water flow of the Murray River would represent the water flow of a single day for the mighty Amazon River in South America.

It’s clear that humans are attracted to rivers and their flood plains and the First Nations Ngarrindjeri people lived on this country for thousands of years prior to the first paddle steamer journey. The Murray River Walk is a journey on foot along the banks of the river system and the spirits of a millennium of habitation are easily sensed. The Dreamtime creation stories talk of the giant Murray cod which swished its tail creating the mighty channel and bends in the river. We walked by middens (communal eating places) with thousand year old mussel shells feasted upon in history and canoe trees which are ancient river gum trees missing large sections of outer bark that were harvested centuries ago for mud canoe construction.
After some devastating  floods in north eastern Australia earlier this year the Murray river system is drinking the benefits with an overdue soaking of its flood plains. The high river conditions currently are amazing to witness. Towering gnarled river gums stand inundated on terraces, dry plains have sprung to life with flowers, that have in turn given life to buzzing insects and the shrill song of bush land birds. Shallow billabongs host a cacophony of the creaks, pops and bongs of frogs. Old man river gum has seen the many cycles of drought and flood over his time and would readily share his wisdom on how to keep this the lifeline of our country into the future.
The Murray River has a rugged beauty painted in shades of brown under a brilliant blue  southern sky. It is as iconic to Australia as the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru.

Murray River sunset

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