‘Life is better by the lake’ is the slogan that Meningie uses to attract people in and it’s hard to argue with the spectacular Coorong nearby and the beautiful Lake Albert which the town sits on.
Lake Albert joins the River Murray to the lower lakes and Coorong and it’s a haven for pelicans in their hundreds.
One of the best views in town is at the Lake Albert Caravan Park, especially if you get a lake front site. There is a huge expanse of grass that leads down to the lake and on selected sites you can have your own campfire, which you can set up on a concrete pad.
There are also some big communal camp fire areas and a generous size camp kitchen and communal entertainment area with lots of fun signs and memorabilia.
This is obviously a park that doesn’t mind a party and events are held throughout the year on long weekends, from food vans brought in, to live music and the ‘Bar-o-van’ onsite.
You notice throughout the park a big retro vibe with some old caravans on site. The Vintage and Classic Caravanners of SA have used the park for gatherings before with some photos to see in the camp kitchen area.
The Coorong is nearby to take a drive, with four wheel drive tracks to take and bushwalk trails to see the wetlands, saltwater lagoons, sand dunes and Southern Ocean.
About 10 kilometres north of Meningie is a pink lake, which if you’re lucky you can see at a bright bubble-gum pink colour. The colour comes from an aquatic plant that produces carotene to protect it from the sun, so you’re more likely to see it at its brightest in summer.
From Meningie you can take a scenic loop drive that takes you around Lake Albert and to the place where this lake and Lake Alexandrina meet, Raukkan. This is the birthplace of David Unaipon, who Aussie’s may know from his image on the $50 note, along with that of the Raukkan church.
Unaipon was an Ngarrindjeri man who had patents on 19 different inventions including a sheep shearing tool and was the author of ‘Legendary tales of the Australian Aborigines’ which was only rightfully attributed to him in 2006.
He was a gifted writer and master of the English language and was the first Aboriginal author to be published in English. In 1988 the David Unaipon Literary Award was established in recognition of his talents.
It’s incredible to think he wrote the following in 1934, and yet what has changed?
‘My fellow Australians with white skins. I belong to a race in whose welfare you have lately been taking an unusually acute interest. I do not question the genuineness of your motives. Your sincerity is undoubted. But when I read your newspapers and the opinions of your politicians, missionaries and scientists, I am saddened and astonished at your ignorance of our problems. It is not us, it seems, who are most in need of enlightenment. You appear to know no more about us than if we were Tierra del Fuegans!’ (South Americans)
In Raukkan there is also a mural painted on the community health centre by Guido Van Helten.
Continuing the drive you cross the lake on the Narrung ferry. Just short of the ferry crossing is a free camp with toilets where you can stay for free for up to 72 hours. As you make the crossing on the ferry you can see the Point Malcolm Lighthouse which was built in 1878.
This has the distinction of being the smallest, at 7 metres tall, and only inland lighthouse in the southern hemisphere. It operated until 1931 and now an automatic light operates next to it. You can only see it from the road as it, and the lighthouse keepers house, sit on the private property of Poltalloch Station.
Continuing on this scenic road will bring you back into Meningie where you can stop in and take a look at the cafes, bakery and shops in town and be back in time to see a beautiful (and stormy in our case) sunset over Lake Albert.