Walk of the month: Riverglades Community Wetland

Graham Hallandal invites you to visit a much-loved wetland on the east side of Murray Bridge.

This post was contributed by Graham Hallandal of SA Recreational Trails, Inc.

This month our featured walk is on the east side of Murray Bridge at Riverglades.

Before white settlement, people of the Ngarrindjeri nation lived in this idyllic area, netting fish from the river and finding mussels with their toes in the shallow ponds, cooking in their open kitchens, leaving shell middens on the sandy shores, weaving reed baskets from the plentiful supply of materials beside their camps, while circles of pelicans drove shoals of fish into the shallows and darters perched on logs, pegging their wings out to dry.

Formerly a dairy and sheep property from the mid-1800s until the early 1960s, the area was bought by developers for housing.

In 1980 the Riverglades Ratepayers Association – later the Riverglades Community Wetland Inc – purchased the land adjoining the wetland and took a 99-year lease, reflecting a deep concern for maintaining it as a healthy and biodiverse part of our river system.

The wetlands are now managed and maintained by volunteers local to the area.

This walk is a loop of 3.6 kilometres, built by the community, around the wetlands over flat terrain.

The walk can be commenced from the car park on Avoca Dell Drive, opposite the Avoca Dell Caravan Park.

Features of the reserve include a public boat ramp, houseboat mooring sites, car parking, two barbecue shelters, a public toilet block, landscaped and turfed river frontage and plenty of shade provided by large trees.

Starting from the car park, cross over the pedestrian bridge and onto the levee bank.

The bridge is part of one of the control structures at both ends of the lagoon section of the wetlands designed to control drying and flooding to artificially recreate conditions before the river was controlled by barrages and locks.

The levee bank separates the Murray River from the wetlands.

Willow removal over the past years has opened up the vistas along this section to the river and beyond.

Once narrow and muddy, this section has been greatly improved and now is a very pleasant walk.

The area is a haven for bird life, with 103 species recorded.

The most common of these are the black swan, white-faced heronAustralian pelican, Australasian darter, Eurasian coot and Australian reed warbler.

An open, grassed area with access to the river is reached after 1.6km – a place for a stop.

A short section of 300m between the lagoon and section open to the river crosses over the other control lock to the southern point of the loop.

The next section back to the start point initially travels between the lagoon and a wide, grassed, treed area near Torrens Road.

It then meanders across an open area displaying small mosaics of native animals mounted on pedestals before crossing a section of water on a board walk, onto dry land in front of houses overlooking the lagoon.

Follow a short section alongside of Avoca Dell Drive and you are back to the start point. 

For the photographers, and early visit around dawn can be very rewarding.

For the bird lovers, finding  some of the 103 species seen in the area can be a relaxing few hours.

Photos: Graham Hallandal.

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