Coorong and Lower Lakes: Oral History of Terry Sim and John Yelland


Coorong and Lower Lakes: Oral History of Terry Sim and John Yelland


An interview in five parts with Terry Sim and John Yelland. Both men were born in 1952 and lifelong friends, recreational fisherman, and landholders in Milang. They discuss in great detail history reaching back to the 19th century. Terry started the fish section of the South Australian Museum in 1974.

Terry and John collectively discuss: pre-barrage days, when a blue line was visible, separating fresh from salt water in Lake Alexandrina (which is now freshwater); changes in fishing methods and equipment; a time when the Mulloway fish species were captured for their gelatine; history of flows and currents in the Coorong from the southern end, as a result of drainage schemes; salinity from agricultural soils and runoff; hypersalinity of the Coorong; traditional knowledge and legends of the Ngarrindjeri peoples; comparisons in flooding and rainfall between 1956 flood and the present day; the dairy and agricultural industry and trade routes in the 1950s; history of prominent naturalists studying the area; the Strathalbyn Nationalist book, an extensive repository of vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants in the area; South Australian Naturalist surveys; observation of fauna in the 1950s-60s and consequent changes; popular family and community activities (e.g. fishing, yabbying, hunting); history of boat types and fishermen huts (‘shacks’); dredging and acid sulphate soil issues; methods of catching and transporting fish (and duck); the impact of salinity on the small snails in the food chain of duck species; vegetation (weeds) popular to ducks; and the effect of European carp in the 1970s on the swan population; 1956 flood, and a family story about a 1870 flood; plant species.

They discuss a fish species 'disostra' in the Coorong and worldwide that died off in the early 20th century. They talk about water birds, and a species called a Banded Stilt which feeds on brine shrimp - a sign of hypersalinity.

Also mentioned: the South Australian Farmers Union, which became Southern Farmers, then National Foods.


Heather Goodall
Jodi Frawley


University of Technology, Sydney


Murray-Darling Basin Authority
NSW Department of Primary Industries - NSW Fisheries


Copyright University of Technology, Sydney



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Jodi Frawley


Terry Sim
John Yelland


Milang, SA


Part 1 00:00:19
Part 2 00:20:12
Part 3 00:20:14
Part 4 00:20:36
Part 5 00:19:46

Item Relations

This Item Is Part Of Item: The Coorong and Lower Lakes
This Item References Item: Ngarrindjeri
This Item Was Created By Item: Prof. Heather Goodall
Item: Dr Jodi Frawley
This Item Has Provenance Information Item: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive (ATSIDA)
Item: State Library of New South Wales
This Item References The Subject Item: Murray Cod
Item: Mulloway

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