Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (11:26): I rise to give full support to the Bookmark Creek project. It is a $6.1 million component of the $36.7 million Sustaining Riverland Environments. I did present to the committee and I thank the Chair and the committee for allowing me to express my support and also to give a little bit more understanding of what Bookmark Creek has meant not only to the people of Renmark but also the natural environs that surround Renmark.
As many might know, Renmark is an island and it is surrounded by different waterways. On one side of Renmark is the River Murray and on the other side of Renmark is Bookmark Creek. Believe it or not, I used to live on the banks of Bookmark Creek many years ago. That gave me an opportunity to ponder the opportunities that were so very much missed. It is an environmental circuit breaker to Renmark. It has been consumed by native vegetation, reeds and overgrown bushland for a long, long time. The landscape will change, particularly with this project.
I will add a little bit more to it. Things have changed significantly since I presented to the committee. We have seen the floods come and go. Bookmark Creek was a major factor in having that significant water body go around Renmark. We saw significant flows go around Renmark. Much of the water that came into South Australia wants to travel in a straight line and much of it wants to run straight over the top of Renmark.
What we have seen is the magnificent levee system that diverted water back around the River Murray and it also diverted much of the water through Bookmark Creek. What we see there now is a creek that has been scoured significantly. It is also now posing fantastic opportunities for tourism, particularly for kayakers and for the locals. Anyone who is a local anywhere close to the Bookmark Creek is catching a feed of yabbies at any given will.
It really is a great sight to see a creek that has really turned into part of the river system because it is an anabranch. It is now a very integral and important part of Renmark because, as I have said, it provides a pressure release valve on water coming down in a high-flow event. The council did an outstanding job of building or rebuilding some of the levee banks. Both sides of Bookmark Creek now have a levee bank that is protecting that town, as well as protecting the horticulture communities on the western side of Renmark.
As a bypass of Lock 5, Bookmark Creek will play a much more important role in sustaining a healthy working environment and also a healthy working river and the bypass known as Bookmark Creek will see a changed landscape. We will see environmental works that will enhance native fish, whether it is spawning or whether it is habitat. Snagging will also provide opportunity for native fish habitat. My belief is that we will not see a lot of native Murray cod in the creek, but we will see a lot of smaller versions of fish. We will see hardyhead and we will see the two spotted gudgeon and they are really important indicators within the environment.
I cannot express enough my support for this to give Renmark another feather in its cap when people come to visit and when people want to experience some of the anabranches around Renmark and the creek system. It will also enhance what is now going to be the Jane Eliza expansion. Jane Eliza version two will be a little upstream in Bookmark Creek and it will help enhance the ongoing and future healthy flows that will now proceed through the creek.
Bookmark Creek supports the passing under the railway bridge, as well as the Sturt Highway bridge. The fishways and opportunities, as I have said, will transform what was quite an ugly piece of creek network into what I am hoping will be a sustainable healthy natural environment.
Regarding tourism, people are out there using Bookmark Creek in all its splendour. It is still flowing, and it is a great site to behold. If the many people visiting the region do not want to go further up into the river and creek networks, they drop off into Bookmark Creek and catch their feed of yabbies and have a wonderful time. I cannot see any reason why that is going to change any time soon. This project has my full support, as it does for the Renmark community and as it does for the Renmark Paringa Council.