I recently had the rare pleasure of spending a few hours walking around the Washpool with two very knowledgeable hydrologists, along with a local environmental activist who’s spent the last forty years restoring and revegetating the precinct.
Ben Taylor (Pictured Centre) is a Senior Wetland Ecologist with the Nature Glenelg Trust (NGT).
John Edmeades (Far right) is a familiar sight at the Willunga Farmers Market selling bush tucker and native plants, and is also an experienced hydrologist who has spent decades repairing and restoring wetlands and waterways throughout the Fleurieu.
Paul Rosser OAM (Left) was one of the founding members of Trees for Life Australia, and has lost count of the trees he has planted throughout South Australia. Paul has been working to restore the Washpool for over 40 years.
John and Paul are representative of the many local activists and environmental groups who have been working for many years to try and protect and restore the Washpool and Blue Lagoon precinct, between Aldinga Beach and Sellicks Beach.
(The local environmental movement, arguably, could be said to have begun with a protest movement against a proposal to create a marina development at the Washpool in the 80s.)
The Washpool Coalition, which includes the Willunga Environment Centre, Friends of Willunga Basin, Friends of the Washpool and local Kaurna elders including the late Georgina Williams and Karl Telfer, among others, has been lobbying the Environment Minister and the Premier for some time, and their activities have been recently rewarded with an announcement from the Environment Minister, The Rt Hon David Spiers MP, that the Washpool will be declared a Conservation Park, and the various titles and land holdings be consolidated into one title.
For over a year now, therefore, Ben Taylor of Nature Glenelg Trust has been exploring the hydrological restoration potential of the Washpool and Blue Lagoon, coastal wetlands located at Aldinga near the southern edge of metropolitan Adelaide, with support from the Green Adelaide Grassroots Grant program.
These wetlands are highly significant to the Kaurna community, as they possess physical reminders of long-term Kaurna connection to this location and also feature in the Kaurna Dreaming story of Tjilbruke (Tjirbruki).
Since European colonisation of the area, the Washpool and Blue Lagoon have become degraded through artificial drains excavated through the wetlands, vegetation clearance, and erosion within the catchment, and possibly sedimentation. Urban development has also encroached upon the area and could intensify in the future.
A considerable amount of ecological, cultural heritage, and geological survey work has already been done to describe the area, and a number of planning documents have been prepared. However, hydrological restoration has not progressed to date. NGT was asked to bring their wetland restoration experience and to take a fresh look at all the issues. As it happens, NGT already has a relationship with the Washpool; long-term NGT volunteer and property caretaker, Andy Lines, has been involved in the re-introduction of a rare butterfly, the yellowish sedge-skipper (Hesperilla flavescens), to the wetland.
Given the cultural significance of the site, Nature Glenelg Trust intends to work closely with the Kaurna community to ensure Kaurna knowledge and aspirations for the Washpool form the basis for any proposed restoration plans. Restoration that enhances both cultural and ecological values is the hope for the project.
If you have knowledge of the history of the Washpool and Blue Lagoon that might help shape its restoration, the Nature Glenelg Trust would love to hear from you.
Please contact Ben Taylor on 0434 620 646 or email firstname.lastname@example.org