18-23 March: Berri nice…groan

Author: Mr A

Location: Renmark and Berri, The Riverland (Ngarrindjeri), South Australia

We only stayed one night at Renmark, a small town on the banks of the Murray river, and according to a couple of sources, originally home to the Naralte people, about which I confess I can find absolutely nothing.

However, research published last year, led by Flinders University in collaboration with the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (RMMAC), has accurately radiocarbon dated a site near Renmark as having been occupied 29,000 years ago. That’s before the last Ice Age! And yet that news doesn’t even warrant a mention by Renmark town council on their site, or any other related tourism site. This is how ingrained the dismissal of our deep history is in Australia. I just can’t imagine many places in the world that would discover a site of such antiquity and the local people pay such little respect or interest. We hope drawing the attention of our readers goes some way to acknowledging the achievements of our First Peoples. They looked after Millewa, or Yorta, as the Murray is called, for all those thousands of years. Thank you.

Now the Murray around Renmark is home to ski boats who take their baffles out to make the noise on our camp site almost deafening, combine that with the continuous rumble of road trains crossing the bridge at the end of the camp site, and we changed our booking to one night! We did go for a wander in the only marked walking trail in town, which turned out to be also used as a road. Catherine managed to get some good pictures given all of that.

Lock 5 – one of several locks on the River Murray that ensure the river continues to be navigable

Look at that euro (kangaroo), no matter how many we see, they still delight us. That wasp larvae also elicited quite a few “ooh’s” and “ah’s from us as well. Never seen anything like them, and thats one of the joys of Australia, we still keep coming across new to us flora and fauna.

Beautiful paper bark
A Euro in the woods
Crested Pigeons an increasingly common sight, their populations growing with land clearance
Honeyeater
White-plumed Honeyeater
Yellow Rosella
Bizarre SawFly Wasp Lavae – about the length of your little finger and wiggling out of a hole in the ground. Check out our Instagram feed for a video of these guys in action!

We moved a short way down the river and have spent a long weekend at a caravan park on the traditional lands of the Meri (or Meru) tribe, a people who I have also struggled to find out anything about. All I know is that native title was finally recognised for them and and other Murray River First Peoples in 2011, after a 13 year battle. It grants “non-exclusive rights” (so not so much really?) to “access, hunt, fish, camp, gather and use natural resources, undertake cultural activities, conduct ceremonies and meetings, and protect places of cultural and religious significance” in some 47,500 square kilometres along and around the river.

In total 37% of Australia now has a recognised native title interest in it, which is managed by a body corporate. What that really gives in practical benefit and influence, I’m still trying to read about and understand.

Berri

Berri had little to interest us to be honest. Its a small settlement based around the bridge of the Murray. We just needed to have a few days out of the dust of the Mallee country. And what happens on the first night? We have a dust storm 🙂 Another cleaning session in the caravan required! They have a lovely pool, and in the afternoon heat we retired to the cool of the water. The Murray’s muddy brown water, thanks to the carp, didn’t appeal.

This is Wilabalangaloo Reserve, gifted to the community (National Trust) and run by local volunteers. It is a wonderful place to wander in the early morning before the heat drove us back indoors.

Early morning on top of the cliffs that line the Murray River
A great look out – bandage hiding a minor graze that the flies flocked to!
Female Rose Robin
A pair of Red-Rumped Parrots
These parrots flit around in noisy flocks in the morning sun
An ochre quarry – this orange pigment would have been traded with other Aboriginal groups as paint colour

We had a walk round a Martin’s Bend reserve on a couple of mornings, giving Catherine a chance to practice her zooming and catching birds in the act of hiding from her.

A couple of fishermen disturb the stillness of the morning
A couple of really tall people
An unlikely pair of friends – a White-plumed Honeyeater sitting beside a Dusky Woodswallow
Finally a Red-rumped Parrot shows us the red rump!
Wallabies grazing in the early morning cool
A female Superb Fairy-wren catches a fine breakfast
Our Dusky Woodswallow spots a spider and makes short work of it
A Masked-woodswallow surveying the breakfast bar
Our Masked Woodswallow catches a dead leaf for breakfast – not such a tasty morsel. Perhaps it looked like a moth in the breeze?
A Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater joins in the fun
A Yellow Rosella emerging from its nest in the hollow branch
A magnificent sunset brings us out at mosquito o’clock to capture the scene at dusk

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