Uncle Sandy Atkinson tells the Cadell Fault story
Uncle Sandy Atkinson relates the ancient story of the formation of the Cadell Fault landscape feature north of Echuca.
-We're standing now on the edge of the Cadell Fault, and I'm telling a story that was told to me by my elders way back when I was a little boy growing up on Cummeroogunga. And they talked about the Cadell Fault because it was a very special time. And way back then when they talked about it, I didn't realize that it happened so long ago, but since then I've found that but that this fault, the earthquake happened 30,000 years ago or more.
The Murray River used to come down to what we call now the Barmah Lakes, or the Moira Lakes. And it took a right hand turn and headed west. And this is the bed of the old Murray River way back then where we're standing here today.
The story went that when this Cadell Fault dropped, it created the Murray-Darling Basin, and the great sand hill that runs through Cummeroogunga and so most of our land became a levy bank. And so the water kept rising. The water got so high that they were sailing their canoes over the top of the trees, which if you think back that this forest wasn't born back then, it was a wetland, and the foliage in a wetland, as you can imagine, don't grow as high has these magnificent red gums that we see out there today.
The legend goes that people walked along this great sand hill down to the lowest point and they dug a trench with their bare hands and digging sticks and let the water go, and it created a new Murray River now that takes a different course and runs into the Goulburn River.
If you look in the background, you'll see how much a drop. That is not a hill. If you climb that, once you get to the top, it's very level and so on, so it's only over here that it's dropped down. The most dominant part of the whole thing is it's deeper here than it is anywhere else. Maybe be that's got something to do with the layout of the land itself, but here we came to the most dominant part of this great landscape along here, and you can see it's very deep here. Could be a lot of meters where it dropped.
So from where we're standing, I've pointed west before, so coming from the east part where we were this morning, out there you'll notice that that's the bed of the ancient river that ran through there. A Barang word for the Murray River back then was Tangula, so I suppose way back about 30,000 years ago that's what it would be called, Tangula. That was the way it came from where it took a right-hand turn from what we call the Barmah or Moira Lakes and headed west and came through here.
We were talking about the Green Gully where the ancient Murray River took a turn. Well, if you look a way into the background there you'll see where the Murray River came, and somewhere not very far up there was where the ancient Murray River took a right-hand turn and headed up out there where we were looking through Green Gully and out on its way to west over to Barrow.
So we were talking about the gigantic sand hill that runs through our land, and we are now on a good part of there where you can see in the background the sand all the way. Around 30,000 years ago, this sand hill became a levy bank, and all the water up there to our left there. And so we will show you where they walked down this sand hill, the top of this sand hill, down to the lowest point and cut a hole through, made a channel with their bare hands and digging sticks and let the water go. So that was a pretty important part of this story. And the Cadell Fault, which we've been looking at, so you can see this is just pure, rich sand, and it runs a long way.
So now you've done the whole circle. We spoke about how the people walk down this sand hill and go into the lowest point. And this is the very point that they come in to where they dug a trench through this hill, the sand hill, with their bare hands and digging sticks. That's what the legend says.
And the story that we've been telling you, that I've been telling you, is a story that it's not only in oral history. It's a 30,000-year-old story that's been handed down from generations to generations, and it may very well be that I'm the last one the may have that story, and it was a pleasure to get people here and walk this journey with me.
So this is a very exciting journey, as we've been saying throughout the story where this great sand hill crossed here. It never crossed in those days. It ran through here, and it's on this side, the Victorian side as well as the New South side. And it's so exciting to be in the very place where those people cut their trench through here or cut a trench through here with their bare hands and digging sticks and let the water go.
When this happened, when they cut this here, the rush of water created this new river and actually it goes on not so far away downstream from here and meets up with the Goulburn River. So there you have an amazing story that's 30,000 years old and it's so good to be able to come here today and talk about it.