Travelling Australia - Journal 2008b
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4 July 2008 - Berri - Banrock Station & rtn (not towing)   
Location map Our plan for today was to go to Banrock Station for lunch. Banrock is a winery and restaurant with an attached conservation wetland on the Murray River. It is at the end of a short (2 km), good gravel road from the Sturt Highway on the western side of the Murray River just beyond the bridge at Kingston-on-Murray when driving from Berri. We arrived just before 11:30 and lunch wasn't on until 12 so I went on the wetlands walk which is widely advertised. I went along the boardwalk to the bird hide but there were no birds to be seen so I walked back to the restaurant/wine cellar door.

The area covered by the walk includes mallee scrub set back from the wetland with eucalyptus lining the wetland which had a fair amount of water left. I was slightly surprised to see so much water on the wetlands yet many of the rushes in the water were very dead. It turned out that the wetlands dried out in March 2007; drying the wetlands had been deliberately initiated by blocking off access between the River Murray and the wetlands in January 2007; wetlands should dry out regularly to maintain healthy plants and this blockage achieved that, but wetland plants die if they stay dry for too long. Banrock Station received approval from the Murray-Darling Commission to divert 832 megalitres (617 megalitres from an environmental entitlement and 215 megalitres from Banrock Station entitlement) from the Murray into the wetland from May 2008 to ensure the continuing health of the plants. The wetlands now had water, and the frogs were loudly expressing their appreciation, but the waterbirds had not yet returned.
Banrock wetlands From the Banrock restaurant deck looking across the newly flooded wetlands. Grape vines are in the immediate foreground with black box eucalypts beyond, barely visible is a band of mallee between the black box and the water.
Banrock Building Restaurant/cellar door at Banrock Station across vines.
Bird hide A bird hide beside the newly flooded wetlands. The reeds are dead because the wetlands had dried out and have very recently been flooded again. The many waterbirds usually living here have not yet returned but frogs made their presence heard.
Lunch at Banrock Station was excellent - local fish in beer batter with a small side salad. Service was slow but we were in no hurry. We bought some wine before making our way back to Berri.

The rest of the day was spent in the van; I went across the road to the river bank for a while later in the afternoon. The weather was clear in the afternoon with blue sky and bright sunshine but a chill in the air nevertheless. After sunset it got fairly cold.
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