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Journal for 12-Nov-2003 : Coorong N.P. (Salt Creek)

The caravan park has nice views over Lake Albert. It was dead calm as we rode out. The wind didn't come up until we reached the end of the driveway.

Slow riding to and through the Coorong National Park. Lots of wind and lots of twists and little undulations in a rather narrow road making dodging trucks and traffic all the more interesting. Lots of nice Malley scrub adjoins the lagoons too. The Coorong is long series of lagoons behind sand dunes that extends for 100km or so down the coast from the Murray River mouth. There are numerous islands where much of Australia's pelican population choses to breed, and a nice viewing platform with a working binocular telescope has been provided for us tourists to have a gawk. The sign does not claim it Australia's largest pelican nursery (which it is), but rather the *world's* largest nursery of Australian pelicans.

The Coorong is quite a substantial body of water, especially for South Australia, and regarded as complete wilderness, as the multitude of attempts to commercialise the land here have all failed. At Salt Creek they have erected a monument to the seven separate attempts to find underground oil from 1869 to the 1930s. The search was sparked by the observation of "Coorongite", a black goopy liquid occasionally found in low lying areas around the lagoons that has distinctly flammable properties. After nearly a hundred years of fruitless drilling, they worked out this "oil" wasn't seeping up from an underground reserve, but a bunch rotting tea tree leaves.

Next to the Coorong proper, which is a variable brackish mixture of fresh (I use the term loosely) Murray river water and salt water seeping through the sand dunes, are a series of small lakes. Some a really salty. Others fresh. Some *look* really white and salty but are actually fresh water with a Calcium Carbonate suspension which the local cows seem to enjoy. So when you next incorrectly answer the question "what do cows drink?", you can site this example.

In this white soupy water we saw a sea gull rapidly stamping his feet, then quickly snapping up the small morsels it had disturbed. It just goes to show sea gulls are smart enough to find their own food, rather than just demand you share your chips with them.

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