The Coorong

The Coorong is a long, shallow lagoon that follows the coast of the south east region of South Australia, south of Lake Alexandrina and the mouth of the Murray River. It is separated from the Southern Ocean by the narrow sand dune of the Younghusband Peninsula.

Where is it?: South east. The shoreline marshes and lakes Alexandrina and Albert at the mouth of the River Murray connect with the Coorong lagoon to form a natural wetland system.

When Australians think of the Coorong they often think of the movie 'Storm Boy', which was filmed here. Based on a novel by Colin Thiele, 'Storm Boy' is one of the most cherished of Australian classic films. The landscape of the Coorong wetlands, bleak and beautiful and windswept, becomes a refuge for the broken, the loveless and the outcast, a kind of hermits utopia.

Storm Boy tells the story of a 10-year-old boy, called Mick by his father Tom, and Storm Boy by the Aboriginal loner Fingerbone Bill (David Gulpilil) he befriends. The boy raises three pelicans, but is forced by his father to release them, however one bird, Mr Percival, returns. In 2009 the pelican, Mr Percival, died at Royal Adelaide Zoo, where he had lived since the late 1980s. He was 33 years old.

The Coorong Wetlands cover 140,500 hectares, including Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert, and are one of the most important wetlands in Australia. It's known for its wide range of habitats that vary from freshwater, from the Murray, to hyper-saline environments created from sea water. The area also contains a number of ephemeral salt lakes and examples of ephemeral carbonate lakes that are both of national and international significance.

The wetlands system is home to many animals, some endangered, and provides a refuge for waterbirds in particular. There is a diversity of species with many types of waders and waterfowl.

The Peninsula and Coorong area is valued for conservation, its scenic attributes and accessibility considering that the northern part is only 80 minutes drive from Adelaide. Many parts are used for outdoor recreational pursuits including: wildlife observation and studies; sailing and boating of all kinds; sight-seeing, hiking and camping; and recreational fishing.

The region and particularly the Coorong lagoon, is noted for its extensive aboriginal sites with both historic and geological significance. Some of the northern islands within the Coorong lagoon are not included in the Coorong National Park or Game Reserve but instead are reserved for use by Aboriginal people. Commercial fishing occurs both along the extensive stretch of beach and in some parts of the wetland complex.

Eco-cruising the Coorong

The wetland complex within Coorong National Park is a very special place around the the lower Murray River. The Spirit of Coorong offers 4 1/2 or 6 hour cruises into the area, stopping at Godfrey's Landing for a guided board walk across Younghusband Peninsula to view the Southern Ocean. The next stop is at Cattle Point for a guided walk into a significant Aboriginal site followed by a visit to the Murray Mouth. Scheduled cruising: Wednesdays and Sundays (Oct May); Sundays only (June to Sept.)

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