Arts and Culture, Stories, Travel

The Spirit of Australia

Another day, another adventure into the heart of Australia. This time, the Ninja Turtle took a trip along the Murray River.

Australia's longest river commencing in the Australian Alps, traversing three states - NSW, VIC and SA.

Pelicans on the Murray River

The Murray is Australia’s longest river, commencing in the Australian Alps and traversing three states – NSW, VIC and SA before reaching Lake Alexandrina, where it empties into the Indian Ocean. The first explorer who traversed the Murray was the celebrated Captain Charles Sturt.  The significance of the Murray cannot be understated – it is a water source exploited for livestock and agriculture, a popular destination tourism and recreation, and of course, a natural habitat for native wildlife.

On the way down south, the route took them through Jervois. Many early settlers sought valuable land along the Murray for agriculture and animal husbandry – the history of cattle farming in Jervois goes back a couple of hundred years. Only a few years ago, this whole stretch of flatland were emerald green pastures, irrigated with water from the Murray and dotted with dairy cows.

Looking something like that.

Looking something like that.

Sadly, South Australia suffered a drought in 2008/2009, which saw the government pressuring the dairy farmers into selling back their water rights. Today, little remains of what used to be a thriving dairy industry, and much has turned into scorched and unproductive land.

Vast stretches of dry emptiness.

Vast stretches of dry emptiness.

Milk from the few surviving dairy producers go into making cheese...

Milk from the few surviving dairy producers go into making cheese…

Specifically, mozzarella

Specifically, mozzarella!

Next, they took a ferry across the Narrows at Narrung – a choppy opening between Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert, to reach Raukkan.

Along the way, they passed many of these dried out salt lakes with a thick white crust of salt. Yes, Australia is very dry.

Along the way, they passed many of these dried out salt lakes with a thick white crust of salt. Yes, Australia is very dry.

To get an idea of just how big Lake Alexandrina really is, here's proof. The lighthouse in this photo is the lighthouse for the lake, one of its kind in Australia.

To get an idea of just how big Lake Alexandrina really is, here’s proof. The lighthouse in this photo is the lighthouse for the lake, one of its kind in Australia.

Raukkan is a small Aboriginal community

Raukkan is a small friendly Aboriginal community

It is one of the very few around where visitors do not need a special pass/permit to enter

It is one of the very few around where visitors do not need a special pass/permit to enter.

Some of the architecture around are the original buildings constructed back in the 1800s during the settlement. They are built with limestone from the area.

Some of the architecture around are the original buildings constructed back in the 1800s during the settlement. They are built with limestone from the area.

Raukkan is also the birthplace of David Unaipon (he worked as a sheep shearer in that very shed).

Raukkan is also the birthplace of David Unaipon (he worked as a sheep shearer in that very shed).

David Who? you say… Well, you may better know him as this man:

Unaipon, who has been called "the black Leonardo", is an indigenous Australian of the Ngarrindjeri people

Unaipon, who has been called “the black Leonardo”, is an indigenous Australian of the Ngarrindjeri people.

Some quick facts about David Unaipon:

– He was a  writer, inventor, public speaker
– He created a basic design for the helicopter about 2 decades before the first one was invented
– He served as an advocate for indigenous welfare
– He wrote poetry and stories that were published in books, but was never credited (he could also quote Milton)
– Of course, despite all his achievements, success was denied him due to overt and pervasive racism
Here is a timeline on David Unaipon’s achievements. Here is an excellent write-up by Kidman on the life of David Unaipon.
For all their "otherness" society treats the Aborigines with, they are no different from the rest of us.

For all their “otherness” society treats the Aborigines with, they are no different from the rest of us.

They live, they love, and they die... as we all do.

They live, they love, and they die… as we all do.

Acknowledging the traditional landowners is an important step to reconciliation for past wrongs, and it is with the hope of reaching a better mutual understanding, that Australia shall truly be able to progress.

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