A community south of Adelaide is fighting to protect an environmentally and culturally significant wetland from urban growth.
- The Aldinga Washpool Lagoon is a culturally significant area for the Kaurna people
- The area is home to about 250 species of flora and fauna
- The government is working to protect the area from urban growth
The Aldinga Washpool Lagoon is one of the last wetlands of its type along the metropolitan coastline and is home to about 250 species of flora and fauna.
It has been the focus of a major re-wilding project, including the reintroduction of plants and wildlife once lost from the area.
“It’s an incredibly valuable locality for both us and nature, it’s an area that has great opportunity for the conservation of species,” University of South Australia biology professor Chris Daniels said.
“The ultimate aim is for us to be able to live really well with nature, to appreciate the quality of areas like the washpool, to engage with it, support it, and for it to become part of our sense of place.”
Volunteers have helped plant seedlings of gahnia, upon which the yellowish sedge skipper butterfly lives.
A group of the endangered butterflies were released by hand after the local population were eradicated through habitat destruction and pesticide use.
“It’s a tiny little butterfly, many people wouldn’t notice it. But it’s a really beautiful little animal,” Professor Daniels said.
“There are other species that have now come up to use the area — the hooded plover is a great example. It’s able to nest, become established, and we hope to be able to keep this species increasing in number over the next few years.”
Land allows Indigenous to connect with history
The site also holds great significance for the Kaurna people, as the place of creation ancestor Tjilbruke.
“We have layered history here on Kaurna country … through our histories and the stories of our elders there have been a lot of stories passed on about why this place was so important to the Kaurna people,” Kaurna project leader Allan Sumner said.
“But not only that, the artefacts and the histories that lie beneath the surface. I think that’s important for Kaurna people today, that we preserve those natural areas.”
He said it was rewarding to engage with young people on the project.
“Often our young people don’t get an opportunity to be on our country and learn about themselves. So I think that is very important. A cultural expression is certainly something that we don’t get to practise that much these days,” he said.
Volunteer Julie Burgher said she had been involved with the project for many years and the area was looking far better.
“You learn something new and you never know what you’re going to see,” she said.
She said the washpool was previously considered as a site for a marina development but she wanted it protected from urban growth.
“I really care about the environment, I really care that the plants are protected and this place is protected for the future,” she said.
Environment Minister David Speirs said he recognised the environmental and cultural significance of the site and was working to protect it.
The State Opposition wants it declared a conservation reserve.