Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quaternary conference in Mildura, Australia

I arrived in Melbourne very early in the morning. Unfortunately I hadn’t slept very much on the flight. A few of us were picked up by one of the buses and were driven up to Mildura with a few stops along the way to look at historical and geological features... we were roughly following the Burke and Wills route. After a lot of flat, straight roads, past lots of fields and eucalypts, and salty lakes we arrived in the heaving metropolis of Mildura.... 
The Burke and Wills Route

Dead trees due to the high salinity of the lakes

The Sealake salt company - harvesting salt and gypsum from the lakes

Mildura is the result of large scale irrigation scheme set up by the Chaffey Brothers siphoning water from the river Murray. This allows fruit to be grown, specifically oranges and grapes - the latter to make sultanas, raisins and currants out of. I went for a wander along the river and around town before the conference started.
The river Murray

Rio Vista - the Chaffey house, now the art gallery

The next few days we had a whole range of talks covering topics of archaeology, dunes, lakes, changing climate, management, Antarctica, and much more. 

The conference dinner was held on a paddle boat on the Murray River that runs past Mildura. 
One of the many paddle boats on the Murray River

Half way through the week we went on a little field trip in the afternoon to Kings Billabong and Psyche Bend – named after a paddle steamer, but why was the paddle steamer named Psyche? This was a billabong that they pumped river water into using a large steam engine, to store it for irrigation. However, it has created a super saline and acidic wet land (pH of 3).

Kings Billabong - one of the many wetlands along the Murray River

Psyche Bend - with lots of dead trees killed by the corrosive and saline waters

The old pumps that used to pump water from the Murray River into Psyche Bend lagoon

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