Summing up the World Wetlands Day event at the Mt Gambier Library

Summing up the World Wetlands Day event at the Mt Gambier Library

Earlier tonight I made the journey into the Mount to give a talk on the history of the Piccaninnie Ponds wetlands, including the more recent story of the restoration of the Ponds and Pick Swamp. It was also great to hear about regional groundwater and its interaction with wetlands from Claire Harding, followed by Oisín Sweeney who talked about a few of the threatened species of the coastal rising springs – including the Glenelg Spiny Crayfish, a species that Oisín and (Aquasave – NGT’s) Nick Whiterod have been jointly investigating in recent times.

There were about 40-50 people in attendance – for what was a very pleasant and informative evening. Well done (and welcome back to the region) to Tina Fowler from DEWNR, who did a great job behind the scenes in pulling the evening together!

Claire Harding explaining the regional limestone aquifer to the audience

In an unexpected surprise, I also had the pleasure of meeting the daughter of Edgar Pick (deceased), the former lessee – up to about 40 years ago – of the area we now refer to as Pick Swamp. Hearing tales from long ago of a young girl on horseback with her father exploring and experiencing Pick Swamp prior to drainage (which went on to commence in the 1970’s) was both fascinating and heart-warming. It also reminds me of the strong sense of attachment to the site that the children and grandchildren of Bob Donovan (who owned the property for about 30 years from the early 1970’s) have also relayed to me. Hearing these things makes you realise just how interconnected we also become (at a human level) when we take an interest in natural history and our local environment – and this can only be a good thing.

After all, just think of all the positive stories that will be told in the future about happy times now spent by the children and grandchildren of community volunteers who have helped recreate Pick Swamp from what were cow paddocks only 6 years ago…

PS. For those interested in getting out and about on Saturday to see the coastal springs first hand, please call Natural Resources South East on 08 8735 1177 for more information.

For the history buffs – this is the first detailed survey map I have found of the coast west of the Victorian Border (a survey map of Black’s pastoral run in 1851). Although the wetland margin is not precisely mapped, it clearly shows: (1) the original course of water from Piccaninnie Ponds (or the Piccaninny Blue Lake as it was also called in times past) to the Glenelg River; (2) Eight Mile Creek and Deep Creek, emanating from the formerly expansive Eight Mile Creek Swamp; and, (3) smaller rising spring swamps feeding Jerusalem and Cress Creeks, closer to the present day location of what became Port Macdonnell.

The view today of this same stretch of coast. Notice the corresponding coastal headlands and bays – and how times have changed!

Mark Bachmann