May 17 – Laura

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Calperum Station

In-Country Blog:

Today was our last day out in the bush at Calperum  Station. We had a chilly morning but were excited to get the day started with a talk by Peter Kale, an ecologist who helps with conservation and running restoration programs at the Calperum and Taylorville stations.

These two stations are actually considered international reserves, something we were able to see firsthand by the kangaroos, emus, and many wild birds that we saw there. One of my favorite experiences of the day was driving through the bush on our way to the bush tour with Dr. Kale and see a herd of kangaroos running as our bus passed by.

During his talk, Dr. Kale outlined the conservation and restoration programs that are taking place in Calperum Station including conservation and restoration of semi-arid woodlands, the Ramsar wetlands, and the floodplains in the area.

We had all heard about rabbits being an invasive pest in Australia, but it was also interesting to find out about other invasive species that the Calperum Station reserve is also having issues with. Some of these include foxes, cats, rabbits, and European carp, which is the worst invasive species of the Murray river.

Dr. Kale’s talk was followed by his student intern, Rhiannon, who described her experiences living out in the bush and working with conservation programs first hand. I thought it was amazing that she moved nine hours away from her home and fiance to such an isolated and remote area! It really showed how passionate she is about the conservation and restoration of Australia’s natural areas for her to make such a sacrifice.

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Shade Cloth and Chicken Wire Used to Protect Saplings

After we listened to the mornings talks, but just before lunch we took two tours. One where Dr. Kale showed us some of the tree planting that had been done in a bush area that had become very barren, and afterwards we took a walking tour on an trail with an aboriginal guide who pointed out some of the features that had been altered from aboriginal peoples of the past.

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Traditional Aboriginal Shelter

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After the wonderful lunch that Flick made for us, we changed and got ready for our afternoon service project. By all of us completing such a service project, we were able to lodge at the Calperum Station for free.

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Peter Kale explaining the issues with
this floodplain

Our service project consisted of stacking loads of branches and sticks onto trucks. Then, the majority of the group went out into a fairly sparsely vegetated part of the reserve where we spread out the piles of brush to about one foot thick. The purpose for the brush piles were to stop erosion, build up organic material, and catch soil that has been uplifted by the wind.

For the next few hours we spread out the limbs, and alternated taking short tours of a more vegetated region of the station, where there was also a creek. We saw a few kangaroos and also a large crane-like bird, but since my tour out there was the last one, almost all of the animals had scattered already.

Listening and taking notes during Peter Kale's tour of the bush

Listening and taking notes during Peter Kale’s tour of the bush

We were all pretty tired out after the service project and came back to rest a bit before dinner. Once it was pretty dark outside (there are no outside lights at the Calperum Station) we made our way over to the kitchen for reflection and to eat dinner afterwards.

After such a long day we were very ready to sleep and excited to make our way over to Mildura the next day.

(Having a blast, but missing everyone at home!)

Peace, love, happiness, and sustainability!

~Laura

References:

Kale, P. (5/17/2013) International Reserves: Calperum and Taylorville Stations.

Rhiannon (5/17/2013) Experiences of an intern at Calperum Station.

For more information on Calperum and Taylorville stations and their natural features:

http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/biosphere/riverland/

http://www.austlandscapetrust.org.au/projects/riverland/calperum-taylorville.aspx

http://www.visitrenmark.com/eco-tourism/

http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/publications/annual/06-07/pubs/state-of-parks-stations.pdf

Pre-Departure Blog:

During our seventh day in Australia we will find ourselves in Renmark, South Australia. We will be lodging in Calperum Station Wentworth Road Renmark, SA.
Renmark is surrounded on all sides by water, namely the Murray river and Bookmark creek. On the north side of the district there are also several lagoons, making this area ideal for water recreation. Its year-round sunny and dry climate make it an ideal place to vacation, so I am sure we will enjoy the couple of days we spend in this district. The weather forecast for Friday the 17th is expected to be partly cloudy with a low of 40 degrees F and a high of 63 degrees.

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Some site visits that we can look forward to attend in Renmark include a tour with a Wetlands Environmental Officer first thing in the morning. Then we will visit the Calperum Environmental Station, a large area consisting of about 600,000 acres (242,800 hectares) of conserved natural land. There we will visit with and receive a lecture from Peter Kale, an ecologist.

First inhabited by the Naralte Aborigines for which the name ‘Renmark’ comes from their native language literally translated means ‘red mud’
Renmark was established as an irrigation colony by founders George and William Chaffey in 1887. The purpose of such an ‘irrigation colony’ was to bring water to growers in the area; The Chaffey brothers spent money on the irrigation project in exchange for land that was granted to them by the government. Using the same principles that they had developed in fruit colonies in California, USA, the Chaffey brothers began a similar fruit colony in the Renmark area, the first of its kind in Australia. This irrigation project gave the basis for Renmark to become a very fruitful district where wineries and fruit farms are abundant. In modern history, the Murray river is still very important, although its use has slightly changed to a focus on water sports and recreation activities on the river rather than primarily an irrigation source.

One site of interest in the area is the Olivewood Historic Homestead and Museum. Originally the home of Charles Chaffey and his family, Olivewood stood on a 140 acre (60 hectares) property and was a working olive oil processing facility.

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Also, Just outside of Renmark is the Monarto Zoo, the largest open-range zoological biopark in Australia. In 1983, 395 government owned acres (160 hectares) were commissioned to the Zoological Society from the Department of Environment and Planning. The Monarto Zoo has set the standard for breeding programs and conservation of endangered animals. Some of the animals that call this park home are African dogs, African lions, and black rhinos.

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Sources:
http://www.visitrenmark.com/
http://www.bom.gov.au/sa/forecasts/renmark.shtml
http://www.murrayriver.com.au/
http://www.zoossa.com.au/monarto-zoo
http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/biosphere/riverland/

6 Comments

6 thoughts on “May 17 – Laura

  1. Mary Beth Kramer

    What an experience!

  2. Lora Ellison

    What an incredible experience! So happy to be able to share it by reading the daily entries!

  3. elshoffj

    This was one of my favorite days we have had so far. I enjoyed being outdoors and walking around the outback on our visit. Learning about the pest management issues was also very interesting to me. It was interesting hearing about their feral pig issues and seeing how similar they are to the ones we have in the States. The invasive European carp was the most interesting for me since the Asian carp in the US is a major issue to me, being a fisherman. I also enjoyed the service project. It was nice to be able to give back to the people helping us, and also to get out and do some manual labor.

  4. I thought it was awesome to have Rhiannon come and talk to us. It was nice to hear a different point of view and to listen to someone our age talk about her experience. I felt like it was easy to relate to her, coming from a larger town to spending her time in the outback. The walk down the river was also pretty cool because we were guided by 2 Aboriginols, which made it easy to ask questions and get an answer from their personal experience.

  5. I spoke to the aboriginal woman who showed us around the sites and we ended up speaking about Michigan. I told her how we are surrounded by five fresh water lakes and she seemed shocked about how that could even be possible. She had spent her who life conserving/worrying about water and I think it just astonished her to even hear that that was possible. It was very cool to see the way the aboriginals lived and the survival tactics they used. I know one thing, I could never survive out there. Very cool lesson!

  6. heidric2

    When I talked to Peter Kale after he gave a presentation to us about what they do at the Calperum and Taylorville station, he told me about the species that have been totally lost from the region like the Azure Kingfisher, the Brush-tail Bettong, and the Stick nest rat. These animals can never be recovered. This is why they aim to preserve all of the species that are native to the Australian land. Calperum and Taylorville station’s main focus is to restore natural habitats and remove threats such as introduced and invasive species. Here those invasive animals are feral goats, pigs, foxes, cats, and european carp! Kangaroos are also being controlled in number, although native, because they have grown in population size due to added irrigation for farming throughout Southern Australia.

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