Milang Jetty, Photo Courtesy Liz Tregenza
The Coorong, Lake Alexandrina, and Lake Albert lie at the mouth of the Murray Darling River system. Australia’s largest river system is a freshwater environment of river, wetlands, marshes, and floodplains, interconnected with groundwater. It supports human health and wellbeing and a wide range of economic enterprise – irrigation, farming, grazing, fishing, tourism, communities and towns throughout the AREA of the Murray Darling Basin.
In an average year the system generates two million tonnes of salt which requires sufficient water flows to travel down the Murray Darling and flush out the Mouth. Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert may be said to act as the ‘kidneys’ of the whole system.
The Coorong, Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert, together with the wetlands of the Finniss River, Tookayerta and Currency Creeks form a Wetland of International Significance formally recognised under the Ramsar Convention. AREA These Wetlands complement each other, the great Lakes being freshwater and flowing into the saline waters of the Coorong and through the estuarine Murray Mouth. Together they form a unique breeding ground for an abundance of waterbirds, fish, invertebrates, plants and organisms. The Ngarrindjeri honour many species as ngatji (totems). Ngori the pelican, an important Ngarrindjeri figure, is also much loved as Mr Percival of the 1976 film Storm Boy which was filmed in the Coorong.
The Coorong is listed under Bilateral agreements for migratory birds. The China-Australia Migratory Bird agreement (CAMBA) and Japan-Australia Migratory Bird agreement (JAMBA) are for the Protection of Migratory Birds in danger of Extinction, and their Environment.
The ecological character of these Ramsar wetlands has been significantly degraded through years of overallocation of water upstream. This reached crisis point during the drought of 2003-2013. Many species remain threatened with the Murray Hardihead and pygmy perch at threat of extinction .