Thoughtfactory: pictures experiments journeys

brief working notes on various photographic projects

Overland Corner Reserve

 I spent a couple of days swagging  in  the  Overland Corner Reserve  during my  repeat   Mallee Routes photo trip to Copeville and Galga. I stayed  there after the Copeville and Lake Bonney (Nookamka Lakephoto sessions  to try and track  the  Overland Stock Route  (from New South Wales) after it left the township of  Barmera and made  its way around the northern part of Lake Bonney to Morgan.  

The picture below was made for the absent history section of  the forthcoming Mallee Routes exhibition at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery.  Its location is near the Overland cemetery on the hill that overlooks the floodplain of the Overland Corner Reserve. This floodplain   would have formed part of the Overland Stock Route in the 1840s, prior to it going around the Nor-West Bend of the River Murray at Morgan, then down  to Adelaide.   

The floodplain of the Overland Corner Reserve  is in poor ecological health ---it is  even in a  worse condition than  the Loch Luna Game Reserve, which  lies between Lake Bonney and the Overland Corner Reserve. I presume that this region  in the 19th century was ephemeral --wet and dry depending on the River Murray flooding. With the  construction of the Weir and Lock 3 in  the mid 1920s,  to create storage  for irrigated agriculture,   Lake Bonney became permanently inundated. That meant  both the Game Reserve and Overland Corner floodplain received  very little, if any  flood water.  

This region of the Riverland ---Lake Bonney,  Loch Luna Game Reserve,  the floodplain of the Overland Corner Reserve--- is   a desolate, degraded  landscape that has resulted from the  environmentally, destructive water management practices of the Murray-Darling Basin's mode of governance. Those  historical practices have  resulted in  the salinisation of Lake Bonney shoreline, and  floodplain salinisation. There is  little fringing vegetation  along the shoreline of Lake Bonney,  limited aquatic vegetation, and  a steady accumulation of salt in the lake. 

I found the floodplain of the Overland Reserve to be  a depressing area to walk around and to be in:  

It looked dead. There is very little bird life. 

Yet just nearby there are the line of healthy trees along  flushed zone and  banks of  the River Murray.  The waters of the river are  contained within its banks and the weirs and locks 3 (at Overland Corner) + 4 (at Bookpurnong).  As the Murray-Darling Basin Authority says: "the weirs and their weir pools — the water stored behind the weir — provide bodies of water at higher levels than would otherwise be present. This allows water to be diverted for agricultural, domestic and industrial use. The weir pools and locks also enable recreational activities."

Historically there was nothing in the way of environmental flows to ensure the ecological heath of the environment of this region. Hence the  destructive water management practices  description above is an appropriate one.