We had spent our first night in South Australia in the small town of Tantanoola to the west of Mount Gambier, giving us an odd introduction to the state. Today we would have a long drive along the Coorong before heading up into the back of the Adelaide Hills.
This part of the state seems to be mostly grazing country, and it looked as though it hasn’t seen any rain in quite some time. Eventually, the golds and browns of the farmland grass gave way to greener native vegetation and the smells turned to a saltier stagnant water smell common of an estuary. The settlements also became less common, so I knew that we were now entering into Coorong country.
The Coorong is a long estuary that begins at the mouth of the Murray River and stretches far along the coast to the south-east. It is an important habitat and breeding ground for several bird species and it has unfortunately been greatly affected by the many dams on the Murray River, causing a lot of environmental controversy over the years.
As we drove along the highway that runs parallel with the Coorong, it seemed to me that there was plenty of water in it at this particular time, though this is the first time that I have seen it. What surprised me the most was just how large this estuary is. It literally runs for over a hundred kilometres.
Eventually the highway left the Coorong and brought us to the town of Meningie where we stopped for lunch and a much needed cup of coffee.
When we crossed the Murray River via the historic bridge at Murray Bridge, I remembered that we had only just camped on this same river a couple of weeks ago after driving through the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales. From there the river had travelled for thousands of kilometres inland to empty into the sea near here. This is a mighty river, and so important for the very dry state of South Australia. It really is the lifeblood of this region and so many other towns upstream.
Our original plan was to camp on the Murray River again in the town of Mannum, but when we got there we still had plenty of time in the day and decided to continue on up into the hills. Mannum is a beautiful little historic town that I would love to spend more time in one day. Some of the old paddle steamers that were once common on the river still provide river cruises here, a small piece of old world charm that brought a smile to my face.
We left the Murray in the mid afternoon and drove up into the Adelaide Hills to the wine growing region of Eden Valley, and we camped in the old show grounds just outside of town.
This whole area is full of history, and we took a walk into the tiny town of Eden Valley to view the old buildings that still line the main road. We ended our day with a beer at the old pub. It seems like South Australia has a lot to offer, and I couldn’t wait to explore more of this state.