Recapping NGT’s 10th Anniversary Tour of the Fleurieu Peninsula!

On Saturday the 8th of October, a cast of 38 eager people jumped on the NGT bus bright and early in Adelaide for our 10th Anniversary Tour of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Because the tour was also part of the Nature Festival of South Australia, in addition to long-term NGT supporters some attendees new to NGT and our work also came along, as we explored the Fleurieu Peninsula together. It was a jam-packed day, with four main sites to visit covering a broad range of NGT’s Fleurieu-based projects. Many thanks to participant and supporter Amy Ide for the fantastic photos of the day displayed below.

NGT’s Mark Bachmann (Managing Director and Founder) and Ben Taylor (Senior Wetland Ecologist) gave an introduction and provided commentary throughout the bus trip, so participants were informed and ready to explore each location when they arrived.

The first stop was the Aldinga Washpool (one of the only intact coastal lagoons remaining in the Adelaide region), where Kaurna custodian Allan Sumner preformed a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country, as well as providing a Kaurna perspective.

NGT ecologists Ben Taylor, Tessa Roberts and Sylvia Zukowski took smaller groups to different parts of the site to talk about the interesting history of the Aldinga Washpool and its ecology, including the alterations that followed colonisation, including development in the area and the dynamic nature of the Washpool’s outlet to the sea. Sylvia had set up some nets overnight; to our knowledge this was the first scientific fish survey of the Washpool, so we didn’t know what we might catch. To everyone’s delight we pulled out a native Common Galaxias (Galaxias maculatus), as well as a range of tadpoles and aquatic invertebrates.

Sylvia interpreting the catch to tour guests at the Washpool. Photo: Amy Ide.
Common galaxias caught at the Washpool. Photo: Amy Ide.
Limnodynastes sp. tadpole caught at the Washpool. Photo: Amy Ide.

NGT has been working on an eco-hydrological restoration options assessment for the site, to consider ways of restoring the wetland to a condition that more closely resembles its pre-colonisation state. Our role in this part of the process is nearing completion, so stay tuned for another update in the near future. Read more about this project in past articles here.

The next highlight of the tour was experiencing the fantastic enthusiasm and knowledge of John Fargher of Yundi Nature Conservancy.

John has a small but significant patch of the critically endangered Fleurieu Peninsula Swamp ecological community on his property. John has been working tirelessly to protect and enhance the wetland with the help of NGT and others. As well as an intact portion of swamp, another part is degraded and threatened by encroachment of a aggressive stand of common reed (Phragmites australis) which NGT has partnered with John to help remove, to facilitate the natural regeneration of diverse Fleurieu Swamp vegetation (read more this project here). John guided us around the property and explained the project and the many fantastic collaborations he is building. Many of the rare Fleurieu Swamp plants were flowering, including native orchids and we shared morning tea by the fire whilst Mark Koolamatrie (Ngarrindjeri custodian) welcomed and inspired us by talking about his connection to this special place.

An aerial photo of the Washpool taken by Mark Bachmann during the tour, shows the historic drains, storm-water channel and outlet to the sea leaking through the pebble embarkment.

Next the group learned about Goolwa cockles (pipis) and an important ancient midden site, from Ngarrindjeri perspectives and history (thank you to Ngarrindjeri custodian Kyla McHughes), to how NGT’s Aquasave team of ecologists have been monitoring cockles and engaging the local community through the project. You can watch a fantastic short video about the project here.

Then it was time for a tasty lunch at the picturesque Goolwa Barrages to recoup. Some of the group ventured out onto the barrage and were beguiled by a family of seals for our lunch-time entertainment.

Last stop was the Southern Bell Frog breeding facility at Clayton, where NGT’s Rupert Mathwin explained the breeding program and the purpose of the facility. The frogs didn’t seem too bothered by our presence, but we definitely enjoyed theirs! Read more about the project here. There was even time to check-out the art exhibition in the community hall next door before heading back to Adelaide.

Photos: Amy Ide.

A big thank you to all who joined us, we had a fantastic time sharing our work and vision for the species, wetlands and coastal environments of the Fleurieu Peninsula.

One generous participant wrote: “Thank you all for a stimulating and informative tour of the Fleurieu wetlands. I was enormously impressed by the level of professionalism and competence of all of you, not to mention the work of NGT”. It was great to get similar feedback from a number of participants.

Thank you all for your interest and support!

Tessa Roberts