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Open Right

Tammy van Wisse: Swim-stainability

Session Info:

I’ve been called a human water quality tester for good reason. I was the first person to swim Bass Strait and in 2000/01, conquered the entire length of the Murray River from the mountains to the ocean in 106 days.

This epic, 2438km swim left an indelible impression on me, as did the communities along the river who shared their stories, opening my eyes to the sad state of the once mighty Murray, its waters blighted by salinity and toxic algae. When I started the swim in Corryong the water was cold, but clear. As I swam further down the river it became darker, milkier and saltier – testimony to the Murray’s increasing salinity problems.

If the ecology of the river is sick, we all suffer in some way. The Murray-Darling Basin produces so many of the foods and goods we consume and export overseas. Rice, wines, fruit and vegetables, and timber and wool products are just a few. As an ardent campaigner on environmental issues, I enjoy being able to share my marathon swim journey whilst communicating the importance that we must all work together towards a cleaner future for our waterways.


  • The importance of our river systems
  • The delicate balance of nature
  • Where our food comes from
  • What is salinity
  • How can we make a difference

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