Lake Alexandrina is one of the most important lakes of Adelaide in South Australia. It is a freshwater lake in a coastline location with a distance of 15 kilometres transversely, 30 kilometres long with an average depth of just 2.8 metres and a maximum depth of 6 metres.
Tucked in amongst the Fleurieu, Kangaroo Island, Murray and Mallee provinces of South Australia, southeast of Adelaide, Lake Alexandrina empties into the Great Australian Bight through Murray Mouth, through a short and shallow cleft.
Another small yet significant lake of Adelaide, Lake Albert, connects with Lake Alexandrina through a narrow channel. The pair is widely referred to as the Lower Lakes of the Murray River. To its southeast direction, Lake Alexandrina further connects to an offshore lagoon known as the Coorong.
Lake Alexandrina, along with Lake Albert, has been a vital aspect of human livelihood. Few communities have their livelihood near the shores of Lake Alexandrina. The two freshwater lakes have given significant contributions towards agricultural productivity for about 150 years now.
The lakes have a special biological role to take part in in the marshland environment around Encounter Cove on the Southern Ocean, and as a result, they have drawn a lot of interest recently through the years.
Lake Albert has a small town, named Meningie, on its banks which has a low population. You can see the Murray Bridge from here. The lake would have turned into saltwater, but the five barrages made in 1940 limit the seawater intrusion, and thus it remains a freshwater lake.
History of Lake Alexandrina
Before getting its current name, Lake Alexandrina was known by different names, such as Mungkuli, Parnka, and Kayinga. The natives of Australia who lived around the lake during the old times gave these names. Along with Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, Coorong and the land around them all together were named by the Ngarrindjeri people as Yarluwar-Ruwe or the Sea Country.
In 1830, Charles Napier Sturt, a British officer and explorer of Australia, explored the lake and named it after Princess Alexandrina, or Queen Victoria, the niece and inheritor of King William IV of Great Britain and Ireland. When she became the queen and changed her name to Victoria, it was in discussion that the lake should also be named Lake Victoria. But the idea eventually died, and to date, the lake retained its current name.
While Lake Alexandrina got the spotlight in 1830, Captain Charles managed to overlook the narrow channel directing waterflow to the smaller Lake Albert. The smaller lake became known after nine years.
Ecological Importance of Lake Alexandrina
The water in the two lakes is predominately freshwater coming from the river Murray. Over 200 different native and migratory bird species inhabit the Coorong region and its adjacent wetlands. Because of the freshwater, the grounds close to the lakes attracted livelihood, and people started farming and cattle-ranching.
For the transportation purpose across the lakes, steam paddle wheelers were escorted and Milang, a small town located on the west coast of Lake Alexandrina became the paddle wheelers station. Now caravan parks can also be found there.
The freshwater from the Murray River system was heavily used for agricultural purposes, therefore lowering the flow to the lakes and the Coorong Estuary. When the severe drought struck South Australia in 2007-2008, the lakes were drying up and were on the verge of extinction due to the extraction of water for irrigation. It also affected the habitat of birds and waterfowl species.
Finally, a welcoming downpour in 2010 replenished them and brought back life. The environment of the place was restored.
Places and Landmarks around Lake Alexandrina
Besides visiting the prime attraction, there are lots of other places to explore surrounding Lake Alexandrina. There are towns and special landmarks that can be explored on your visit. Those are mentioned below:
1. Lake Albert
Visiting this smaller yet main lake should definitely be on your travel list. Also known as Yarli, Lake Albert is one of the significant lakes of the Lower Lakes of Murray River in South Australia. It is a freshwater lake in a coastline location, and its big sister is Lake Alexandrina. The water of Lake Alexandrina flows into Lake Albert and feeds it.
2. Lake McHughes
This lake is right behind the point where the Murray River meets Lake Alexandrina. McHughes Lake is a cool attraction around Lake Alexandrina and is precisely located 900 kilometres to the west of the capital city of Australia, Canberra.
Wellington is the last town in the Murray area. It is in the Central Western Slopes region, in the middle of the Wambuul Macquarie and Bell Rivers. One can find a ferry crossing in the town.
4. Murray River Mouth
It is the mouth of the Murray River, and the channel amid the Southern Ocean and offshore lagoon Coorong. Here River Murray meets the Southern Ocean.
5. Loveday Bay
It is a long narrow bay located at the south-eastern end of Lake Alexandrina. The Salt Lagoon Islands Conservation Park is a secured zone installed in the Salt Lagoon Inlet. It is a tributary inlet.
6. Brinkley Homestead
This is the point where you enter Lake Alexandrina through a long, narrow stretch and leave the Murray River.
7. Pomanda Island
It is an island with no human habitation. Point Pomanda is its southern point.
8. The Narrows
It is the channel between the lakes Alexandrina and Albert.
9. Point Malcolm
This point has a historical lighthouse constructed back in 1878, known as the Point Malcolm Lighthouse. The lighthouse happens to be the only inland lighthouse in Australia.
10. Poltalloch Station
It is a historical farming station in Poltalloch. It is tucked between Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert.
Raukkan happens to be a small Aboriginal community with a limited population of 100 people. It is located on the southeastern shoreline of Lake Alexandrina.
Goolwa is a riverport located by the Murray Estuary. It has a rich history. The town is a popular holiday destination. It is famous for hosting the South Australian Wooden Boat Festival every odd year. The famous paddle steamer, the PS Oscar W, a paddle steamer, is based in this town.
13. Tauwitchere Barrage
Tauwitchere Barrage is one of the five barrages located on the eastern end that limit the salt intrusion into Lake Alexandrina and isolates it from the waters of the Coorong. It links the mainland’s Pelican Point to Tauwitchere Island.
It is a small town located on the north side of the Narrung Peninsula with a very small population of 198 people.
It is another small town located on the west coast of Lake Alexandrina with a population of 883 people.
16. Clayton Bay
It is another small town located on the northern-eastern side of Hindmarsh Island of Lake Alexandrina with a population of 350 people. The town attracts many travellers, especially photographers, bird watchers, botanists and others, due to its wetlands, waters and foreshore.
Things to Do at Lake Alexandrina
There are lots of activities that one can indulge themselves in near Lake Alexandrina as well as Lake Albert. The activities include:
- Holiday Rentals
- Water Skiing
- Wind Surfing
- Coorong National Park
Boating races and regattas are also organised on the lakes. Fishing is allowed at Lake Alexandrina as well. Many marine species like silver perch, Murray cod, golden perch, bony herring, catfish, Australian smelt, common carp, tench, rainbow trout and brown trout inhabit these waters.
However, as the lake is very exposed to the wind and due to its shallow nature, seasoned paddlers and boaters also face difficulty in navigating it.
Lake Albert is not useful when it comes to fishing and providing water for irrigation because of its salinity, but it is one of the best places for tourism. It is a boating paradise. If you want to spend some time in the environment, there are many facilities like campgrounds, local farm stays, and guest cottages for a great vacation. The area provides scenic sunset sights to take pictures of.
A visit to this place is a must on your next trip to the Aussie land.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you swim in Lake Alexandrina?
Yes, you can go for a swimming session in Lake Alexandrina.
2. Is Lake Alexandrina a fresh or saltwater lake?
Lake Alexandrina is one of the most significant lakes and a freshwater lake located on a coastline. Tucked in amongst the provinces of South Australia, Lake Alexandrina empties into the Great Australian Bight through Murray Mouth, through a short and shallow cleft.
3. What fish can you catch in Lake Alexandrina?
The most caught species in Lake Alexandrina are common carp and European perch. Other than these, one can find ample brown and rainbow trout, salmon, Common yabbies, silver perch, Murray cod, golden perch, bony herring, catfish, Australian smelt, and tench.
4. What animals live around Lake Alexandrina?
In and near Lake Alexandrina, one can find turtles, snakes, lizards, a variety of beetles, and butterfly flies, along with freshwater fish.
Pratyusha Biswas is a student pursuing her Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in Mechanical Engineering. She is a passionate writer in addition to her academic pursuits. Through her articles in Australian Tales, she wants to share her love and passion for writing and her interest in travelling with all the readers and benefit them with some knowledge.