Watervalley Wetlands


The landscape of the south east of South Australia consists of a series of relict parallel coastal dunes interspersed with flats; landforms similar to the present day Coorong. This landscape was formed by rises and falls in sea level over the last 400,000 years. When the winter rains came water was trapped between the dunes and slowly flowed in a north-westerly direction until it eventually disappeared into limestone sinkholes or found its way into the Coorong via Salt Creek. This created over a million hectares of seasonal wetlands with some permanent lakes and ponds. These were teeming with waterbirds and aquatic plants and provided abundant food for the indigenous inhabitants.

Thus, when the first British settlers arrived soon after the colony was founded in 1836 they found a landscape dominated by water in winter which made overland travel difficult and any low lying country unsuitable for farming without extensive drainage. To increase the area of land available for farming the first drains were dug in the 1860s in the southern part of the region. As the desire for farmland increased so did drainage; digging continues to this day. Little of the landscape is unaffected by drains which are beneficial to farming but have resulted in only 6% of the original wetland habitat remaining. Most of these are still threatened. At the same time nearly 90% of the original vegetation has been cleared.

Wetlands & Wildlife is endeavouring to conserve 27 000 hectares of wetlands and native vegetation to provide habitat for native wildlife and to rehabilitate part of the landscape to something like its natural state.


A project to revegetate nearly 2,000 hectares of retired grazing land with indigenous species began in 2005 with the first seeding done in August 2008. Work was funded by the Coorong District Council through its Local Action Plan program. This is one of the largest revegetation projects on private land in Australia. There are two sites involved, Morella and Cortina, and each will extend and consolidate large tracts of remnant vegetation. The Morella project was completed in 2014 and now connects 13 000 hectares of wildlife habitat near the Coorong National Park, Martin Washpool Conservation Park and Bonney's Camp. The Cortina project is currently in progress and will create 5 000 hectares of connected habitat including some of the most valuable wetlands in the region.

Fencing to exclude stock from all conserved land is currently being completed.

Measures are taken to control feral mammals and weeds. Leaf hoppers and rust have been introduced as biological control agents to manage bridal creeper and other weed species are sprayed using non-residual sprays.