Bool Lagoon Game Reserve and Conservation Park

Bool Lagoon Game Reserve and Hacks Lagoon Conservation Park is situated approximately 25 kilometres south of Naracoorte, South Australia. The main entrance is via Lindsay Hood Road. Enter 50 Lindsay Hood Road into your GPS. Be sure to organise your park fee online at www.environment.sa.gov.au before venturing out there. Fees are $10 per vehicle with an $8 concession fee (current at January 2019). Overnight camping is available at $20 per vehicle. The park is open everyday with the exception of Total Fire Ban days. An annual permit can be obtained giving access to the Park as often as desired during the year.

Mosquito Creek flow near Struan House

Bool Lagoon is one of the largest wetlands in Southern Australia. It relies on good winter rainfall for its water supply which comes in through Mosquito Creek from the East. Mosquito Creek flows into Hacks Lagoon which then overflows into Bool Lagoon. This wetland area has been known to go dry if there are too many successive dry seasons. 2016 was the last time that I was out there when the wetlands were overflowing. In 2018 Bool Lagoon was near full but when I was out there early September none of the overflow gates had been opened.

Tea Tree Boardwalk
Tea Tree Boardwalk, 2011

There are several board walks, the main one being the Tea Tree Boardwalk of 500 metres which takes you through an area of Tea Tree and into the main bird hide. This is the best spot to be if you want to see the birds coming in to roost after a day out feeding. Just be aware that there have been bees present in this bird hide at different times.

Bool lagoon sunset
Bool Lagoon sunset from the snake island lookout.

The Gunawar Walk takes you across the waterways between Hacks Lagoon and Bool Lagoon and across to Snake Island. This boardwalk has recently been re-built and is now a ‘floating’ boardwalk. Snakes can be present on this island; however, in several visits that I have made I haven’t actually seen any. This island has a lookout, giving you a higher up view of both lagoons. This is also a good vantage point for photographing sunsets.

The park is home to some 150 species of wildlife, including some rare and endangered bird species. When the water levels are good plenty of frogs can be heard and sometimes seen.

Echidna on Tea Tree Boardwalk
Echidna on the Tea Tree Boardwalk.

But water birds and frogs aren’t the only creatures to be seen using the boardwalks. On the drive around to Big Hill kangaroos and wallaby’s can often be seen grazing in the surrounding paddocks. From Big Hill you can look north west across Little Bool Lagoon.

Bool Lagoon overflow channel, Sept 2016.

For a different route back to Naracoorte turn right onto the Bool Lagoon road as you leave and then take Moyhall Road back into town. The drive will take you over the overflow drain which is worth checking out when the water levels are high. Note that not all of this road is bituminised but it has been considerably upgraded in recent years.

Photos and text by

David

Darwent’s Waterhole Reserve

Clearing in the scrub

A clearing and camp site in the scrub

Darwent’s Waterhole Reserve is about three kilometres south of Willalooka on the western side of the Riddoch Highway. The early history of Willalooka is recorded in the book ‘Wedgeholes to Windmills’, but unfortunately I have mislaid my copy.

 

The Wedgehole

The Wedgehole

It is just a small area of scrub that contains a wedgehole that was dug in the early days of settlement for watering stock. A wedgehole is simply a wedge shaped hole dug down deep and long enough to collect water from the under ground water table.

 

Hitching rail site

Site of a hitching rail for horses

Nearby to the wedgehole are these two posts which have brackets on them for the hitching rail for tying up horses while the stock (probably sheep) were drinking. With dryer seasons in recent decades very little water is now visible in the wedghole, but I have seen enough moisture in the bottom for bees to get a drink.

 

Lady Finger Orchid

Lady Finger Orchid, rarely found this dark a colour.

This small area of scrub contains some very special plants, among them is the Lady Finger Orchid. The flower is usually white and occasionally pink, but rarely as dark a pink as this one that I found in this reserve in October 2017. This orchid can also be found at Mt Monster Conservation Park closer to Keith, South Australia, and probably in other natural areas in the region.

 

Written by

David

 

Mannum Dock Museum

PS Marion

PS Marion ready to take on passengers

I have visited the Mannum Dock Museum of River history on several occasions now, most recently on a day trip to the All Steamed Up Festival on November 19th 2016. This festival had a good mix of old steam engines, early model petrol and diesel engines on display in Arnold Park between the museum and the ferry ramps, and early model cars and power boats on display at the Mary Ann Reserve. The PS Marion and PS Oscar W were doing alternate trips between these two  sites. Myself and a friend who was with me for the day did a paddle steamer trip on the PS Marion from Arnold Park to the Mary Ann Reserve.

 

PS Captain Proud

PS Captain Proud at dock at Murray Bridge, South Australia

My previous trip to that included the short trip on the PS Captain Proud  based at Murray Bridge, and then spending a good part of the afternoon in Mannum. For anyone interested in the early river trade and paddle steamers on the Murray River I can highly recommend a visit to this museum at Mannum in South Australia. I have a keen interest in the old paddle steamers… my great, great step uncle was Captain William Richard Randell who launched the first paddle steamer on the River Murray in February 1853. His steamer, PS Mary Ann, was launched at Noa No, a few kilometres upstream from Mannum.

 

The original boiler from PS Mary Ann is on display in the museum and a replica of it is also in the Mary Ann Reserve on the river bank alongside the main town wharf.

 

Randell Dry Dock

Randell Dry Dock

The Dry Dock in the museum, was originally built at Milang and when bought by the Randell’s, was moved to it’s present location at Mannum. Much more information about the Randell Dry Dock is available in a separate webpage. A fund raising project has been set up to put a roof over the dock to help preserve the Red Gum timbers.

 

Randell's Beam Engine

Randell’s Beam Engine

Also in the museum is the Beam Engine used by Captain Randell to pump the water out of the Dry Dock once the vessel had been stabilised in it. This enabled work to be done on the vessel. During my most recent visit to the museum I was able to see this engine running.

 

Written and produced by,

David

 


Cockatoo Lake, SE South Australia.

Cockatoo Lake boat ramp

Cockatoo Lake boat ramp and beyond, August 2007

Cockatoo Lake is situated 30km north, northeast of Naracoorte via Riddoch Highway and Morambro Lane, and 20km south of Padthaway via Grubbed Road, which runs nearly parallel to the Riddoch Highway in South Australia’s south east.

 

Cockatoo Lake, July 2016

The lake bed in July 2016

The lake is fed by Morambro Creek which is sourced in the Wimmera in western Victoria and crosses the border into South Australia near the small township of Frances. It is thought that around 70-90% of the flow in the creek originates in the Wimmera region.

 

January 2017

January 2017 water level.

In recent years it has spent much of the time dry (see top photo) but with the good winter and spring during 2016 it has filled for the first time in a number of years. Any overflow from the lake goes out through the Nyroca Channel and on into the Marcollat watercourse.

 

Cockatoo Lake, north side

Northen side of Cockatoo Lake

Cockatoo Lake is considered an important birdlife habitat and recreational resource. In a recent quick visit to the site there was up to a dozen families camping on the grass on the eastern side of the lake where there are some very basic toilet facilities and a boat ramp. There is another entrance on the south west side off the Deepwater Road, but this track is rather rutted from winter traffic.

 

In 2001 this area including the lake, Morambro Creek and 30km of the Nyroca Channel were prescribed as a protected water course.

 

Use this link for a map to Cockatoo Lake, South East South Australia

Written and produced by

David


 

Fairview Conservation Park

Fairvew Conservation Park

Fairview Conservation Park entrance, showing typical scrub type in the park.

Our eldest son and I visited Fairview Conservation Park in July 2016; for me it was my second visit to this park. It is situated approximately 45km north west of Naracoorte off the Woolumbool Road. If travelling in the vicinity of this park one needs to keep a keen eye out for wild deer as there are a few in the area. I almost hit one in a work vehicle some years back when driving past.

 

Little Gums Road

On Little Gums Road.

The park consists of nearly 1,400 hectares of virgin scrub, typical of the sandier soils of the South East of South Australia. The track marked on some maps as Little Gums Road enters near the north west corner of the park and runs through the park to roughly half way up the eastern boundary. Nearly half-way along this track is an off-chute to a nice little picnic spot on some higher ground, a good spot to go for a wander from. At some stage I would like to re-visit the park and do the drive right the way through and along another side boundary.

 

Eucalypt in the park

Typical bigger gums (eucalypts) in the park.

Intriguing slab

Intriguing slab in Fairview Conservation Park

The park also contains some wetlands with the largest area of water  being Kangoora Lagoon. I am yet to see it with water in it but it would be quite a large area when it does fill up. As I write this blog we have just had a good wet September in the region. It would be interesting to get back out there and see if and how much water is there now. On the ridge just up from the eastern side of Kangoora Lagoon is a concrete slab that I found rather intriguing. My enquiries would suggest that it was once a shed with a wash down bay in front of it. It would be rather interesting to know its history and purpose.

 

Not being too sure just where we would end up we re-traced the track back to the original entry point to the park. I  have since checked out the park on Google Maps and it would appear that during a dry period might be best time to do a drive right through the area.

 

Written and produced by,

David


 

PS Captain Proud excursion May 2012

PS Captain Proud at the Murray Bridge wharf

PS Captain Proud at the Murray Bridge wharf

Another outing that I did, going back to May 2012, was a short cruise on the paddle steamer, Captain Proud, based at Murray Bridge in South Australia. A friend of mine from Naracoorte in South Australia came along with me, let’s call him ‘Mr D’. Neither of us had been for a cruise on a paddle steamer before so we had primarily booked the shorter cruise just for the experience.

 

Captain Proud's left side paddle wheel

Captain Proud’s left side paddle wheel

After nearly three hours travelling with a short break half way, we arrived at Murray Bridge and found where the boat was moored at the main wharf. After a short wait and sorting out our booking for the cruise we were given the signal to go aboard.

 

Swanport Bridge, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Swanport Bridge, Murray Bridge, South Australia

We had only booked the 1-hour cruise so we headed south toward the Swanport Bridge. This is the newest bridge over the Murray River in South Australia and was completed when the South Eastern Freeway out of Adelaide was completed to this point, and the Murray Bridge township itself was by-passed.

 

Approaching the wharf at the end of the cruise

Approaching the wharf at the end of the cruise

As it turned out, Mr D and I were the only ones taking the cruise on this particular occasion so we were able to spend some of the time upstairs chatting to the Captain. After explaining to him that I had an affinity with the river in that the first paddle steamer on the Murray was built by my great, great step uncle, he suggested we visit the Mannum Dock Museum.

 

Having plenty of time after the cruise we decided to drive up to Mannum and spend an hour or so  at the museum before making our way back to Naracoorte. I had been to the museum myself previously but Mr D hadn’t. But I’ll write about that part of the trip in another post.

 

Written and produced by,

David


 

Geegeela Conservation Park

Geegeela Conservation Park.

Geegeela Conservation Park.

A conservation park that I have visited a number of times is Geegeela Conservation Park. The southern entrance to this park is at the North East corner of the property that we once owned at Frances, South Australia for eight and a half years. In those days though, it wasn’t sign posted as a Conservation Park. This area containing some 850 hectares was declared a Conservation Park in July 2005.

 

Typical light country of the South East of South Australia.

Typical light country of the South East of South Australia.

I have driven through the park a few times back when we were living out that way. I had helped the folk who leased Geegeela North station on the North side of the park with some crutching. It was at this shearing shed that I saw the tallest Lucerne plant that I’ve ever seen. A couple of stems of the plant had grown up between two loose sheets of iron and, well, they were taller than I am!

 

Typical Eucalypt species in Geegeela Conservation Park.

Typical Eucalypt species in Geegeela Conservation Park.

The park contains mainly a mix of various Gums (Eucalypt sp.), Stringy Bark and Banksia with some Bottle Brush in a few lower areas. Amongst it, other small native plants, including some orchids can be found. For the birdwatchers, the park is said to be inhabited by up to 90 bird species including the endangered Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.

 

'Quirks' of nature

‘Quirks’ of nature

The park is also home to various native animals and even some little creatures and one needs to be alert so as not to walk into this sort of thing along the way!

 

Written and produced by,

David

 


Canunda National Park, Millicent

Easter Sunday 2015 I did a drive down to Millicent where my grandson spent some time with some cousins. My eldest son John came with us and while my grandson spent the time with his cousins, John and I went ‘exploring’ one of the beaches along Canunda National Park looking for photo opportunities.

 

First view of windfarm

A first view of the windfarm

From Millicent we headed out Lossie Road and then onto Frontage Road, the road that runs along the top side of Lake Bonney SE. This road took us down past the windfarm south east of Millicent. After a while we turned back and turned south west onto Canunda Causeway Road which led us down to the parking area just before Geltwood Beach. I wasn’t equipped for beach or sand work so we didn’t venture too far off of the built up roads.

 

Geltwood Beach

Geltwood Beach

So we parked in a camping area and walked the three quarters of a kilometre or there-about over the sand dunes and onto Geltwood Beach. Here we set up to take some photos and watch the waves coming into shore.

 

Photographing on Geltwood Beach

Photographing on Geltwood Beach.

Photo 03

 

Beach seaweed

Beach seaweed

Photo 04

 

Beach scene

Beach scene

Photo 05

 

Making our way back over the sand dunes.

Making our way back over the sand dunes.

All too soon it was time to make our way back to pick up my grandson and return home, with a short stop at the Mt Burr / Millicent lookout for some photos of the sunset.

 

 

 

David

 

Mission fundraiser project 2012

Under the shearing shed.

Under the shearing shed.

During 2012 a handful of chaps from our church got together and cleaned out the sheep manure from under a shearing shed. Some would call it a wool shed. We bagged it up and then sold it to various folk around town for them to use in their gardens. In the end we managed to bag off close to 20 tonnes of sheep manure and raised just over $1800 for an Agriculture Project in South Sudan.

 

Another load heads into town.

Another load heads into town.

South Sudan, a country in Africa that had been involved in civil war from 1983 up to 2005, during which time development was virtually halted and agriculture severely restricted. The project was established by COCOA, Churches of Christ Overseas Aid, and was managed by Steve Blacket initially. A small area of land was cleared and crops of corn and peanuts grown to give an income for the families involved. More recently a tractor has been bought and the area enlarged to engage more families in the project. More information on the project, and to donate to the work if you are so inclined, go to this webpage. http://www.inpartnership.org.au/bongibot-agricultural-project

 

David

 


Mullinger Swamp

Mullinger Swamp

Mullinger Swamp

A friend of mine and I went for a drive to some of the local spots in November 2011. One of those places was Mullinger Swamp a few kilometres north of Kybybolite, South Australia. Although Kyby (as the locals often call it) is in South Australia, the swamp itself is mostly in Victoria and actually straddles the border.

 

Mullinger Swamp 02

Mullinger Swamp 02

In 2011 when we visited Mullinger the water level had been pretty high but some drop in levels was evident. Just to the left of this second photo is an area banked off to keep water out of a runaway hole and retain it for irrigation and summer swimming. This levee bank is said to have been built in the 1940’s.

 

Mullinger Swamp 03

Mullinger Swamp 03

Over the years quite a number of the trees in the swamp itself have died, probably due to being drowned since the levee bank mentioned was built. The extent of these dead trees is evident in this third photo. Also evident on these trees is the high water mark.

 

Largest known River Red Gum

Largest known River Red Gum

Over in the paddock to the north west of the swamp is a River Red Gum, thought to be the largest of its type in the region. It is said to be about 40 metres high, with a circumference of 11.6 metres measured 1.3 metres above the ground. It is estimated to be over 800 years old. The base is hollowed out, presumably by fire. This is thought to have occurred before European settlement. In the past this has been known to have been used as a change room by swimmers.

 

David