The Captivating Coorong
There is a special place in South Australia which I think has gone largely unnoticed, but a spotlight is about to be shone on it with the release of a movie in January 2019. The movie is ‘Storm Boy’ and the setting is The Coorong, an area in South Australia that at it’s heart, is less than 2 hours from Adelaide. The Coorong is a series of estuarine lagoons that are protected from the wild Southern Ocean by sand dunes and a shell covered sandy peninsula that stretches for around 130 kilometres, beginning at the Murray Mouth in Goolwa.
The name Coorong is derived from the aboriginal word ‘karangk’ from the traditional custodians, the Ngarrindjeri people, and means narrow neck. The Coorong is a National Park area and an important breeding spot for the Australian pelican. It is also internationally recognised as a habitat for many migratory birds and a breeding ground for other Australian birds and fish species.
You may have heard of the movie or the book, Storm Boy before. The story was written by South Australian author Colin Thiele in 1964 and made into a movie in 1976. It truly deserves to be called a classic because it’s theme of the relationships between people and their environment and wildlife is still extremely relevant today and no doubt will be timeless.
The movie centres on the relationship of a boy and a particular pelican ‘Mr Percival’. The story was a mainstay in schools when it was written and for many years after. At the time and especially with the release of the first movie, I don’t think there was a child growing up in South Australia in the 70s who didn’t refer to all pelicans as Mr Percival. I’m sure the upcoming movie will be stunning not least because of its scenery and will be a must see in the summer. The cast list looks amazing including, Jai Courtney, Geoffrey Rush, Finn Little as Storm Boy and Trevor Jamieson as Fingerbone Bill.
To me though I’m guessing that the true star of the movie will once again be the incredible landscape that makes up the Coorong. There are a few towns where you can stay and appreciate the area including a campground at Narrung and the Lake Albert Caravan Park at Meningie but to me you will have the best experience if you camp in the National Park, entering from either Salt Creek or 42 Mile Crossing.
It is 4wd territory only and driving over the dunes and along the beach is a spectacular journey even if you don’t intend on camping. The Southern Ocean is wild and fierce but there are designated sheltered campsites that you can drive into along the stretch of beach. Camping starts at $15 per night and more information can be found on the National Parks SA website. It’s particularly good to stay with a group and there are various size camping sites to choose from.
http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/booking#Coorong National Park
The main reason people love the camping here is for the fishing and the monster Mulloway is the one that everyone is looking to catch. Still with or without the big one, this is a breathtaking part of the state to spend some time and a perfect place to get away with the kids, with nothing but nature to keep them busy.
If fishing isn’t your thing there are walking destinations or lagoons to explore by small boat or kayak or just soak up this beautiful wilderness and the amazing wildlife encounters. It’s been quite a while since I last visited this area but I get the feeling that it will get a whole lot busier after January next year.
People are bound to fall in love with this area again when the movie is released and hopefully it will also shine a light on the importance of looking after our Murray River which ends its journey here and empties into the Southern Ocean, and people will have more of an appreciation of what impact users of the Murray in the higher reaches, can have on the environment in its eventual destination.