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Sea mouth of the Murray

George French Angas1847

State Library of South Australia

State Library of South Australia
Adelaide, Australia

Plate 43: Part of the text accompanying the illustration reads 'At the eastern extremity of Encounter Bay, the junction of the River Murray with the Southern Ocean takes place. A low sandy coast, completely open to the ocean, stretches away to the South East, forming the outer shore or sand-hills of the Coorung ... the dull chime of their waves is responded to by the harrowing shreiks of multitudes of sea fowl that resort thither. To the left is a sandy bluff, called Barker's Knoll ...'. There appears to be the remnants of a whale's skeleton in the mid-ground.

After the long journey by whaleboat down the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers, Charles Sturt reached the mouth of the Murray 12 February 1830. He completed the last few miles on foot as mud flats prevented the passage of the boat. A few days previously as the Murray flowed into Lake Alexandrina Sturt had written;
'... I immediately foresaw that, in all probability, we should be disappointed in finding any practicable communication between the the lake and the ocean, as it was evident that the former was not much influenced by tides.'

When Sturt walked over the last sand-hill to reach the Murray Mouth some days later he saw the channel to the sea was only a quarter of a mile wide, but the water deep and the current was strong. However, '... the mouth of the channel is defended by a double line of breakers, amidst which, it would be dangerous to venture... thus were our fears of the impracticability and inutility of the channel of communication between the lake and the ocean confirmed.'

This is one of 60 coloured lithographs found in the 1847 edition of 'South Australia Illustrated' by colonial artist George French Angas, together with a descriptive passage for each. The lithograph was created by J.W. Giles from Angas' original painting. The date assigned is assumed to be approximately when the lithographs were created; the original paintings were done in earlier years

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