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Along the Coorong to Eden Valley, South Australia

by Dean Wickham on May 2, 2013

in Australia, Destinations, Featured, Oceania

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.

View of the Coorong in South Australia

View of the Coorong from a rest stop on the highway

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.

Panorama of the Coorong in South Australia

Coorong Panorama

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.

View of Lake Albert in Meningie, South Australia

Our lunch spot on Lake Albert in Meningie

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.

Old paddle steamer on the Murray River at Mannum, South Australia

An old paddle steamer docked on the Murray River in Mannum

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.

Old house in Eden Valley, South Australia

An old house in Eden Valley

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.

Eden Valley Motors old building in Eden Valley, South Australia

Eden Valley Motors building from the 1800′s

Beautiful church in Eden Valley, South Australia

The church in Eden Valley

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Helen Magner May 3, 2013 at 5:19 am

I have wanted to visit the Coorong since reading Storm Boy. Did you read it? Once again full marks for the pictures.

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Dean Wickham May 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Hi Helen. No I haven’t read Storm Boy but have certainly heard about it. It sounds like a great story! Cheers

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