Photographs of key moments

Taken by James Manifold this photo is of the Manifold and Martin children enjoying their home made raft on Yatco Lagoon in 1979.

More historical photos?




A brief history of Yatco Lagoon by Jeff Drogemuller - download it here.


Early European settlers

(From Section 2.7.5 of the Wetland Management Plan)

“The first European settlers arrived in Moorook in 1894 on the paddle steamer 'Gem'. They formed a village settlement to grow produce for them to live on and any excess was sold and sent via paddlesteamer to Morgan then by train to Adelaide.  

The first pumping station was established about 200 metres south of the start of Yatco Lagoon.  To sustain water for irrigation in pre-lock times during drought conditions, a stone levy bank was built across the entrance to Yatco to hold back water for their crops that needed irrigation.

 Dry land farmers arrived in 1895 and settled south of Moorook.  They used the southern end of the lagoon in a similar way.  In drought years, as the lagoon receded, they planted fodder (that is, sorghum) in the fertile mud and would harvest it for hay and chaff to feed their stock.  They considered Yatco Lagoon a valuable resource to sustain farming in the area.

 In good river flow years wild horses were trapped and yarded in the peninsular between Yatco lagoon and the River Murray.  The horses were broken in and sold to the Australian Army - this is just another way to show the resilience of the first settlers. (Jeff Drogemuller, 2008)"


Map showing key historical locations - download it - click on the map below.




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Timeline of critical events that
shaped the community’s response
 to the 1997-2010 drought

1894      The paddle steamer P.S. Gem delivers twenty Adelaide families by river to settle

1895      Jeff Drogemuller’s great grandfather Fred Drogemuller travels from Younghusband and
              establishes the first farm in Moorook.

1906      Jeff Drogemuller’s grandfather builds a third stone home on Yatco Lagoon.

1912      Traugott Tschirpig establishes a stone residence overlooking Yatco Lagoon

1915      Windmills were used to pump water from Yatco Lagoon up to the surrounding farms.

1925      The completion of Lock and weir No.3 at Overland Corner creates a permanent pool
              level and fills Yatco Lagoon permanently, ending an era of lakebed cropping practiced
              by Fred Drogemuller and his sons.

1927      Red Gums within and around Yatco Lagoon start to die from permanent inundation
              and impacts of salinity.

1956      The great flood of 1956 threatens properties at Moorook and Y.M.Johnny Gurr assists
              with sourcing wheat bags from the mid-north of South Australia for use as sandbags.

1960      Johnny Gurr commences digging “The Channel” from the river to the south lagoon to
              provide her new crops with water. Gordon Hoffmann completed the job.

1960      The Channel creates opportunity for extensive development of irrigated properties
              along the Channel

1960’s   The first crops grown off the The Channel include tomatoes, peas, rockmelons,
              trombone, pumpkins and watermelons, prior to permanent plantings of citrus,
              stonefruit, wine grapes, almonds and lucerne.

1976      Phillip and Maria Martin move from Mount Compass to the old Tschirpig homestead on
              Yatco Lagoon.

1977      Martins establish a sunflower crop on the eastern shore of south lagoon.

1982      George and Florence Burdon are the first Riverland irrigators to establish an almond
              orchard on drip irrigation. They share a sump on the north lagoon with Jeff

1985      Martins construct two holiday cabins overlooking the south lagoon.

1991      The Stasinowsky family purchases floodplain land surrounding and including Yatco Lagoon
              from Phillip and Maria Martin.

1993      Yatco Irrigators participate in the RiverCare Irrigation Management Program to
              increase irrigation efficiency using knowledge of soils, irrigation systems and irrigation
              scheduling tools.

1994      The commencement of an 18 year period when river flows did not exceed 80,000

2001      The commencement of a decade where river flows did not exceed 50,000 ML/day.

2003      Burdons and Drogemullers relocate their pumps to the river when salinity levels in the
              north lagoon reach 1,500 EC units.

2005      Consulting firm SKM complete a baseline survey of the biophysical features of Yatco

2006      The drought reduces South Australia’s entitlement flow and irrigators are placed on
              restricted allocations as low as 18% of their high security water licence.

2006      The Loxton to Bookpurnong Local Action Planning Group commences a Land and
              Water Management Plan for the Pyap to Kingston-on-Murray area and includes
              irrigators from Yatco Lagoon on the Reference Group.

2006      The LWMP Reference Group visit Banrock Station to discuss the benefits of drying a
              permanently full wetland.

2006      The Yatco Wetland Landcare Group formed in December 2006.

2007      The State Government Minister for the River Murray announces in March 2007 that
              Yatco Lagoon be investigated for temporary disconnection from the River Murray
              (along with Lake Bonney) as part of Drought Contingency measures to save water
              by reducing evaporation losses.

2007      The Yatco Wetland Landcare Group is formed and sets 3 key objectives (see 'About
               the group').

2007      Nippy’s Fruit Juices and Banrock Station Wines provide sponsorship to engage
              Mainstream Environmental Consulting (Dr Bill Phillips) to develop a Wetland
              Management Plan for Yatco Lagoon.

2007      The Yatco Lagoon embankment commences construction across the narrow outlet of
              the north lagoon and includes culvets and fishways to enable fish movement.

2007      The Yatco Wetland Management Plan adopts the Vision described by Jeff Drogemuller
              (see 'Wetland Management Plan').

2007      The Federal Government announces a $3.3 million package to relocate Yatco
              Irrigators from The Channel to the river.

2008      Yatco Lagoon embankment is completed in January 2008.

2008      Yatco Lagoon disconnected from the River Murray in January 2008 and remained
               disconnected until March 2009.

2008      Highly saline groundwater (85,000 EC) observed seeping into the north lagoon as the
              lagoon dries.

2008      The first complete drying of Yatco Lagoon since Lock 3 was constructed in 1925.

2008      The first new red gum seedlings observed germinating in the drying shoreline of the
              north lagoon.

2008      The new Federal Government seeks review of the Yatco irrigators pump relocation

2009      Funds provided by the Loxton to Bookpurnong LAP allowed Dr Ivor Stuart (Kingfisher
              Research) to be engaged to provide expert advice on native fish passage and carp
              control at Yatco Lagoon. 

2009      Refilling of Yatco Lagoon produces dramatic changes in water quality and the first
              observation of large numbers of Musk Ducks in many years.

2009      Yatco Wetland Management Plan is completed in September 2009.

2010 to 2012 

             The first high river in a decade completely inundates the Yatco Lagoon floodplain and
             hinders progress with pump relocation to the river.

2011 to 1012

             Tenders are invited to construct new pipelines and pumps to enable The Channel
             irrigators to source water from the River Murray.




Photographs of key moments

Late 2007 - Construction of the earthen embankment to allow drying out of the wetland.

Earthen embankment completed and wetland drying

underway (at right)

Inspection of regulator

2008 - New red gums on the floodplain

Refilling in 2009