The challenges of COVID-19 did little to deter people from traversing the South Australian stretch of the River Murray in 2020, with more than 5,700 houseboats, tinnies and kayakers safely passing through SA Water’s network of locks and weirs, marking the second highest total lockages recorded in the past five years.
On behalf of the Murray Darling Basin Authority, SA Water manages Locks One to Six in South Australia as well as Lock Seven at Rufus River and Lock Eight at Wangumma in New South Wales, and Lock Nine at Kulnine in Victoria. The utility also operates barrages at Goolwa, Mundoo, Boundary Creek, Ewe Island and Tauwitchere.
SA Water’s Senior Manager of River Murray Operations Garry Fyfe said visitor numbers have remained solid despite the travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
“While our lock coordinators kept working every day as normal throughout the year, restrictions on visitors coming to and from the Riverland area expectedly led to a fairly large drop in vessels travelling along the river, compared to what we usually see,” Garry said.
“This was certainly the case with a near 50 per cent drop at Lock Six near the SA-Victorian border, with just 19 lockages recorded between April and June – a whopping 225 less than the same time in 2019.
“As border restrictions eased towards the end of the year and more people hit the river for the summer holidays, these numbers bounced back to expected lockage figures, which was fantastic to see.
“Our friendly crew along the mighty Murray love the ability to meet the thousands of visitors each year and explain the history of the river, and we thank everyone who has continued to safely use our locks and weirs while adhering to social distancing measures to keep everyone safe and healthy.”
Of the nine River Murray locks operated by SA Water throughout the Riverland and upstream into Victoria and New South Wales, Lock Four in Bookpurnong, 10 kilometres south of Berri, recorded the highest number of lockages in 2020, at just under 800.
The Goolwa Barrage, located at the end of the River Murray system, recorded the largest overall vessel number for the year with 2,062 lock visits.
“Goolwa got particularly busy towards the end of the year with more people winding down into the summer holidays, with the week before Christmas recording similar totals seen over entire months,” Garry said.
“Our lockies were all hands-on deck especially on 29 December, where the pre-new year rush saw 375 people on boats passing through Goolwa in one day – the equivalent of one lockage every 10 minutes!”
For media enquiries, please call or email SA Water’s media team:
Phone: (08) 7424 2477
Mobile: 0477 300 197 (24/7)
For all other SA Water-related enquiries, please call our Customer Care Centre on 1300 SA WATER (1300 729 283).