There are so many myths surrounding the Murray River. It is far away from most Australians who live in cities and over the years various activists have told stories which have grabbed national headlines while bearing little relationship with reality.
Then there is this general disconnect because people who live and work along the Murray, who have a different type of relationship with the River than those who campaign for it and ordinary Australians who read about it the tabloid press.
I remember having a conversation with a cameraman from Channel 9 on the banks of the Edward River (an anabranch of the Murray) before being interview by Ross Coulthard in April 2006. I was making mention of the River Redgums along the Edward and how beautiful they were but the cameraman didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. Then I realized he was looking about for a red-coloured tree. Of course River Red Gums are a silvery colour – it is their wood which is red and only visible when the tree is felled.
I’m compiling a list of popular Murray River myths for a new website. Following are a few, I’m hoping you can add to this list in the comments thread.
Did you know that River Redgums aren’t red?
Did you know that Murray River salinity levels more than halved between 1982 and 2002 and continue to fall?
Did you know that the Lower Lakes didn’t need to dry-up during the recent drought; that was the choice of the South Australian government?
Did you know that the Murray’s mouth was never used for river trade, wool and timber was sent from Goolwa to Victor Harbour by rail?
Did you know that the Murray’s mouth was blocked by sandbars when Charles Sturt sailed down the Murray in 1830?
Did you know that many farmers with a water licence didn’t have a water allocation during the recent drought?
Did you know the Water Act 2007 puts the environment first; water for farming is what is left over?
Did you know that the world’s largest ever environmental watering was made into the Barmah-Millewa Redgum forest during the recent drought?
Did you know that Snowy Hydro manage the waters of the upper Murray and Murrumbidgee for electricity generation, not water conservation?