Getting out for an exploration at my favourite time of the day, twilight – is one of those true pleasures, and often one bumped for all the million other things that need to be attended to. So today after school, we headed nature-side and explored the coastal wetlands at Aldinga, Sellicks Beach – the Aldinga Washpool Lagoon.
It’s a beautiful place in the twilight, yet humble, with nothing to point out its significance, except some fencing and ‘conservation area’signs and a large diverse collection of birds gathering.
It’s a place that speaks for itself, if you listen.
It’s included in the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia because significant flora and fauna are present. The local council (Onkaparinga) describes it as “one of the last remaining coastal lagoons of its type along the metropolitan Adelaide coastline“. The phrase “one of the last remaining” evokes a pang of sadness, because it feels like we have to read it far too often sometimes. Wandering there in the last remaining rays of sunlight for the day, light reflecting off the rippling lagoons with the sound of waves on the beach, you can see this is an important place of water. It must be astounding to see the full moon reflecting in the lagoon. Just imagining it…
But even beyond its ecological significance as a remnant coastal lagoon, and being able to appreciate its unique beauty, there is far more here to cherish and protect.
The lagoon is a culturally significant site, sacred to local indigenous Kaurna groups as an important place on the Tjilbruke Dreaming Track,. It’s actually the cultural significance which drew me here this week. Miss 7 visited the start of the dreaming track as a school excursion, to Warriparinga Wetlands And Living Kaurna Cultural Centre. Exploring the sites closer to home at the end of the dreaming track, are on the top of our list, particularly because I have my head in indigenous astronomy at the moment.
There’s a lot of information about the Aldinga Washpool lagoon area, once you go looking online. The ecological facts and figures are easy to find, but it’s trickier to uncover more detail about the cultural stories of this place, but I’ll keep searching and learning (and adding finds here). There is a Washpool newsletter and it seems there has been a long effort by locals to achieve sustainable integrated management of the site focused on the cultural significance.
This action is reassuring as it is a quiet spot, and while we were there, some young lads turned up and decided to use the dirt track between the two lagoons as a place to practice skids and burnouts in their car. Sacred places in quiet spots sadly do sometimes need a bit of protecting from some our human wildlife.
My favourite sight amongst the black swans and wading birds were the swallows darting over the long grass, in flashes of blue and rust red – very difficult to photograph though.
And here’s some 4 year old human wildlife, learning to fly like a swallow – also elusive to photograph so I’m including him here: