By the time marathon swimmer Tammy van Wisse had swam the entire length of the Murray River she had knocked herself unconscious twice on submerged timber and eaten more than her fair share of that other type of snag, the barbequed variety. Yet she emerged from the experience more passionate than ever about the Murray River.
Tammy calls herself a human water quality tester. A day in the “office” can result in bouts of gastro and ear infections. But her epic journey along the Murray also gave Tammy a fish-eye view of many majestic sights, such as Gunbower Forest, and the chance to meet scores of locals who cheered her along and hosted barbeques in her honour. When Tammy reached the Murray Mouth – after 2438km and 106 days (yes, that is over three months in the water) – she achieved one of the six swimming world records she currently holds. That was back in 2000, but Tammy still talks about it with such energy that she might have well just completed the trip.
I heard Tammy van Wisse tell her story at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne last month, by the banks of the Yarra River. Tammy was there to help launch Environment Victoria’s new online river atlas
. This project was the vision of Healthy Rivers Campaigner, Juliet Le Feuvre, and was brought to life by some dedicated volunteers.
The atlas is designed as an educational resource. It provides catchment-by-catchment information on river values, conditions, threats and priority actions to improve stream health, as well as photos, stories and links.
Image of the Goulburn River near Seymour from Environment Victoria's online river atlas