The Riverlands – Renmark to Morgan

by Jun 4, 20220 comments

From Renmark, I began to travel further into South Australia, and this was reflected in the landscape. The sandstone cliffs of ever-varying earthy tones continued appearing along the edges of the water; often pinballing the river from side to side off ancient river valleys. The power line poles are made of cement and steel and the box forests that spread out on the upper floodplains are eaten hollow by white ants. This semi-arid river country has a certain charm as the sunburnt land mingles with a life-giving water course.

At Lyrup, Peter and Mick were winding up their river trip. That afternoon we floated into a backwater lagoon, where their mate Rick lived on a well maintained houseboat. Cuppers were had in the afternoon sun before I helped the old fellas reluctantly load their boats back on the trailers. That night we enjoyed good company by eating, yarning and laughing together. All things to do with the river, boats and life were discussed.

I was once again solo, having thoroughly enjoyed the company of some great river folk through the northern reaches of the Murray River. Behind me were the three fires-a-day times with many hot drinks and campfire anzac biscuits. I again began to spend more hours on the river, enjoying the late autumn sunshine and mild, wind free days. Well, wind free in relation to what was to come. Through the Riverland I travelled, passing through rural communities amongst the irrigation land of SA. Each town had its own identity, and all showed the rich history of river exploration, settlement and signs of cultural practices trailing tens of thousands of years into the older days. Middens appeared on many banks, shellfish remains of great feasts and trees still standing where canoes were once carved from. The People of the Meru Country still care for Country from Wentworth to Mannum.*

At Cadel, my mate Beau picked me and my boat up from the boat ramp and we ventured at an unfamiliar pace to his new property just out of Morgan. After travelling by kayak for months, floating down the river at a speed that doesn’t often exceed 10km/hr, riding in a car again was an exciting outing. Beau and I shared beers as we wandered around a patch of, what many people would describe as ‘Saltbush Country’. For over an hour we strolled, observing the land and the surprising variety of life that grew there. Salt bushes, acacias, haekies, and other small shrubs covered the reddish-brown earth, spaced appropriately to share resources. Lichen, mosses and pigface clang to the ground, growing best in the shade of other plants, and the few trees stood proud. We spent that night talking about regenerative landcare and how that property will look in decads; covered by Mallee forest and earthships. Staying true to my journey, Beau dropped me back at the same boat ramp the following day, so I could continue down, without missing out on any section.

*https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/map-indigenous-australia

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