South Australia
Population41, 802 (2008)[1]
State electorate(s)Chaffey, Stuart
Federal division(s)Barker

The Riverland is a region of South Australia. It covers an area of 9,386 square kilometres (3,624 sq mi) along the River Murray[note 1] from where it flows into South Australia from New South Wales and Victoria downstream to Blanchetown. The major town centres are Renmark, Berri, Loxton, Waikerie, Barmera and Monash, and many minor townships. The population is approximately 35,000 people.

The Riverland is located about 1.75 to 3 hours (or 150 to 280 km (93 to 174 mi)) north-east of Adelaide, and 90 minutes west (or 120 to 250 kilometres (75 to 155 mi)) from Mildura, Victoria via the Sturt Highway.

The region has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and relatively mild winters, and temperatures a few degrees above those of the state capital, Adelaide. The average summer temperature is 32.5 °C (90.5 °F), with a winter average of 16.2 °C (61.2 °F) and an average rainfall of 260.6 millimetres (10.26 in).


Indigenous history

At the time of British colonisation of South Australia in the 1830s, and for tens of thousands of years before then, the area today known as the Riverland was inhabited by Aboriginal Australian people, whose name for it is Moorundie Ruwe.[3] At the time of colonisation, these were (from west to east) the Ngaiawang, Ngawait, and Erawirung, sometimes collectively referred to as the Meru people. Based on available data, the pre-European population along the River Murray within South Australia is estimated to have been several thousand people, with a density of up to 0.3 to 1 square kilometre (0.39 sq mi) per person. Ceremonial exchanges were major events, with people travelling from far and wide to participate.[4][5] At this time, the people of the central River Murray area were "engaged in a broad-based economy embedded in a diverse and highly productive mosaic of riverine habitats".[6]

Archaeological finds

See also: Aboriginal Australian sacred sites

The oldest known River Murray Indigenous site, a midden of ancient river mussel shells, confirmed the occupation of the site by Aboriginal people for at least 29,000 years. The find has expanded the scarce knowledge of the area's ancient history.[7] A study reporting the find and describing the dating as "based on 31 radiocarbon age determinations" was published on 14 July 2020, saying that this pushes back the previously known occupation of the area by 22,000 years, into the last ice age.[6] The research was carried out as part of an ongoing collaboration between the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (RMMAC) and researchers from Flinders University led by Amy Roberts, and is a first step in a larger project tracking hows how people lived during that time. Evidence of trade in chert and large sandstone grinding dishes had already been found,[8] but this find helps to show how their ancestors survived times of hardship and plenty.[9]

European settlement

The first district to be established in the region was Renmark in 1887 by the Chaffey Brothers, who also established the Mildura Irrigation District in the neighbouring upstream region of Sunraysia. Other settlements followed in the 1890s at: Holder, Kingston, Lyrup, Moorook, Murtoa, New Era, New Renmark, Pyap, Ramco and Waikerie.[10]

Some of these irrigation schemes were developed as a government response to the economic depression of the 1890s, where the aim was to keep energy, talent and capital from leaving South Australia using Village Settlement Schemes.[10]

In 1901 a Royal Commission recommended that the settlements be subdivided and leased to individual settlers instead of village associations, and over time most of these areas became government irrigation areas.[10]

Soldier settlement schemes were later allotted for returned servicemen at: Berri, Chaffey, Cadell and Cobdogla from 1917. Loxton and Cooltong were allotted from 1946 on. During World War II, the region hosted an internment camp for people of Japanese,[11] German and Italian origin or descent. This camp was based at Loveday but little remains today to indicate its existence.

In 1956 and 1961 the privately developed Sunlands/Golden Heights schemes were established. As pumping technology became more affordable and efficient, more recent development occurred through private irrigation, where irrigators operated their own pumping infrastructure pumping water from the River. Water trade enabled further growth in these properties from the early 1990s, with the Riverland purchasing water from pasture users in upstream states, or from the downstream lower Murray region, to expand the wine grape and almond industries. Some of this development was funded through managed investment schemes.[citation needed]

Climate and economy

See also: Riverland wine region

The region enjoys a warm Mediterranean[12]/temperate climate,[13] with seasonal temperatures a few degrees above Adelaide’s temperatures. The average winter temperature is 16.2 °C (61.2 °F) and the average summer temperature is 32.5 °C (90.5 °F),[12] with a mean of24.3 °C (75.7 °F). Average rainfall of Renmark is 260.6 millimetres (10.26 in).[12]

The Riverland's economy is driven by primary production.[14] The region has sustainable comparative advantages for high value irrigated horticulture, including soils, climate, reliability of water supply, best practice water supply systems, ability to grow a diversity of crops, fruit fly free status and proximity to markets.[10]

The area is Australia's largest wine-producing region, growing over half (63 per cent in 2014) of South Australia's wine grapes. In 2013 the region produced 22 per cent of Australia's wine grape crush with approximately 21,000 hectares (52,000 acres) under wine grapes, which was produced by over 1,000 growers.[15]

The Riverland is also a significant almond and stone fruit-growing region, producing 18 per cent of Australia's almonds and 7 per cent of Australia's fresh stone fruit, and Riverland juices and milk drinks are stocked on supermarket shelves across Australia and internationally.[15]

The agriculture industry is the largest employer in the area.[14]

As of 2020 the Central Irrigation Trust manages irrigation water for 1,600 growers who irrigate 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres) of horticultural crops in 12 private irrigation districts (Berri, Cadell, Chaffey, Cobdogla, Kingston, Loxton, Moorook, Mypolonga, Waikerie, Lyrup, Golden Heights and Sunlands).[16] There is also the Renmark Irrigation Trust, which supplies water to 4,700 ha.[17] All the water is supplied from the River Murray. Many of the towns were established for the re-settlement of soldiers after their return from World War I or World War II. Most towns were established as separate irrigation districts.[10]


The Riverland is located on the main eastern state transit link, which connects Adelaide to the eastern states.

Road: The Sturt Highway, a part of the National Highway Network, is the major highway connecting the Riverland region with interstate and overseas freight connections at Adelaide's Outer Harbor and Adelaide Airport. Main roads provide regional access between towns, as well as alternative routes to major regional areas such as Murray Bridge.[18]

Air: Renmark has a regional airport that provides services for light planes, and potential for future expansion of commuter services. Waikerie airport has a sealed runway and is an operating airfield.[18]


The region is known for its natural wonders, which provide opportunities for guided and self-guided walks, horse-riding, mountain biking and cycling, and canoeing and kayaking on the river and creeks. Lake Bonney, where Donald Campbell achieved the Australian water speed record of 216 miles per hour (348 km/h) in 1964,[19][20] provides opportunities for sailing, zorbing and windsurfing.

The region also has a strong motorsports culture with its facilities for 4-wheel driving, trail bike or motocross riding, go-kart and speedway.


Renmark Rose Festival

Renmark is well known for its annual Rose Festival, a 10-day long event held in October each year, which is a major tourist attraction. The very first Rose Week was run in 1994, and was the brainchild of Eithne Sidhu, who collaborated with David Ruston, who owns Australia's largest rose garden (11 hectares (27 acres)) and houses the National Rose Collection.[21]

Loxton Christmas Light's Festival

Starting with a single Christmas light display out on a property in Loxton North, the Loxton Christmas Lights Festival today incorporates many homes throughout the township, and attracts thousands of visitors to the region over the period from November through December each year. It began when Peter Mangelsdorf was inspired to start a small Christmas display known as Christmas Wonderland. The 250 metres (270 yd) frontage of Peter's property is filled with a magnificent display of Christmas lights and images, ranging from Bethlehem scenes to popular characters dressed for the festive season.[22]

Riverland Food and Wine Festival

Held in mid-October each year, the Riverland Food and Wine is the region's main food and wine event showcasing local wines, ales, ciders and spirits, along with local cuisine. Held on the banks of the river, the day includes entertainment, and has become a popular event with locals and visitors alike.[23]


Destination Riverland is the Riverland's tourism body;[24] the industry is worth about $148 million annually to the region.[25]


The Riverland is currently represented at state level in the South Australian House of Assembly by Liberal Member for Chaffey, Tim Whetstone.[26] Federally, Liberal Member for Barker, Tony Pasin[27] is the region's representative in the House of Representatives. Local Liberal politician Nicola Centofanti is a Member of the Legislative Council, while Anne Ruston is a Liberal federal senator for South Australia.



Primary schooling


Private and religious

Senior schooling

Public high schools across the Riverland region

Private secondary

Special education

Further education

TAFE SA has a centrally located campus in Berri.[28]


Official nameRiverland
Designated23 September 1987
Reference no.377[29]

The predominant natural environment consists of River Red Gum and Black Box forests that line the river banks and flood plains, as well as steep cliffs. The Riverland is abundant in wildlife, the more common species encountered being Pelicans, Kookaburras, Brush Tail Possums and Perons Tree Frogs. Less common species include Koalas (introduced to Renmark), Bush Stone Curlews and Carpet Pythons (rated 'vulnerable' to extinction in the region).[30]

Riverlanders share an interest in the health of the River Murray.[31] The Riverland region lies in the southern part of the Murray Darling Basin where the broad River Murray floodplain and its river meanders for approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi) through red sandy Mallee dune landscapes. Several conservation reserves protect biodiversity and provide for conservation and wise use activities.[18]

Protected area associated with the River Murray include Murray River National Park, Loch Luna Game Reserve and Moorook Game Reserve. Mallee landscape reserves include Chowilla Regional Reserve, Billiatt Conservation Park, Pooginook Conservation Park, Calperum Station and several privately owned reserves including Birds Australia's Gluepot Reserve. In the river valley, there are several hundred wetlands[30] including two Ramsar wetlands of international importance — Banrock Station Wetland Complex and the Riverland Wetland that encompasses Chowilla floodplain, and other wetlands including Pike River basin, Gurra Gurra wetlands and Katarapko Creek.[18][32]





See also


  1. ^ It is customary in South Australia to place "River" first when referring to the two major rivers of the state. The naming principles issued by the Government of South Australia include: ... "'river' should be used as a generic term following the specific name of the feature – e.g. 'Onkaparinga River' – except when referring to the River Torrens or River Murray."[2] South Australians may also place "River" first when referring to the Darling River, the major tributary that joins the Murray in New South Wales.


  1. ^ "National Regional Profile: Riverland (Statistical Subdivision), Population/People". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Geographical names guidelines". Planning and property. Attorney-General's Department (Government of South Australia). August 2020. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  3. ^ "Glossop High School". Glossop High School. 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  4. ^ Clarke, Philip (2009). "Chapter 6. Aboriginal culture and the Riverine environment". In Jennings, John T. (ed.). Natural History of the Riverland and Murraylands. Occasional Publications of the Royal Society of South Australia Inc. No. 9. Includes Tindale's Tribal Map of the South Australian section of the Murray Basin. Museum Archives, South Australian Museum. © Tony Tindale and Beryl George, 1974. Royal Society of South Australia Inc. pp. 142–161. ISBN 978-0-9596627-9-5. Retrieved 27 August 2020 – via ResearchGate.
  5. ^ "Aboriginal communities". People of the Murray River. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  6. ^ a b Westell, Craig; Roberts, Amy; Morriso, Mick; Jacobsen, Geraldine; River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (2020). "Initial results and observations on a radiocarbon dating program in the Riverland region of South Australia". Australian Archaeology. 86 (2): 160–175. doi:10.1080/03122417.2020.1787928. S2CID 221192470. Retrieved 27 August 2020 – via Taylor and Francis Online.
  7. ^ Ward, Anita; Stephens, Matt (14 July 2020). "29,000 years of Aboriginal history confirmed at SA River Murray site". ABC News (Riverland). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  8. ^ Kurmelovs, Royce (15 July 2020). "New research puts date of Murray River Aboriginal site back to the time of last Ice Age". NITV. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  9. ^ Saraceni, Jessica E. (15 July 2020). "New Dates Push Back Occupation of South Australia". Archaeology Magazine. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e "SA Riverland Community Profile" (PDF). www.mdba.gov.au/sites/default/files/archived/guide_pbp/AppendixC_SA_Riverland_community_profile.pdf. Murray Darling Basin Authority. 8 October 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Loveday Project: Japanese civilians interned in Australia". Wordpress.com. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  12. ^ a b c "Plan". Destination Riverland Inc. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Riverland". Australian Wine. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Live, Work, Play, Invest Riverland" (PDF). www.rdamr.org.au/fileadmin/user_upload/Riverland/Publications/RDA_LWP_PDF_Version_NOv_2014.pdf. Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland Inc. 8 December 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Mapping Capability and Connections Report" (PDF). www.rdamr.org.au/fileadmin/user_upload/Riverland/documents/Mapping_Capability_and_Connections_Report.pdf. Australian Government, Department of Industry. 30 March 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  16. ^ "About Water on the Web". CIT WaterNow. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  17. ^ "Renmark Irrigation Trust". rit.org.au. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  18. ^ a b c d "Riverland Regional prospectus" (PDF). www.rdamr.org.au/fileadmin/user_upload/Murraylands/Docs/Riverland_Prospectus_v6.pdf. Riverland Futures taskforce. 11 April 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  19. ^ "Press Release - Bluebird Replica Build Begins". K7 Project Bluebird Barmera Australia. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Donald Campbell's Water Speed Record Attempt". Monument Australia. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  21. ^ "Ruston's Roses". Renmark Rose Festival. Renmark Rose Festival. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  22. ^ Peta, Martin (17 December 2011). "Christmas Light's at Loxton". ABC Riverland. ABC Riverland. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  23. ^ Kuerschner, Jane (16 October 2015). "Wine and food showcase promises…. more, more, more". murraypioneer.com. Murray Pioneer. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  24. ^ "Destination Riverland". Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  25. ^ "The Value of Tourism in the Riverland" (PDF). South Australian Tourism Commission. South Australian Tourism Commission. 31 December 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  26. ^ Tim Whetstone MP
  27. ^ Tony Pasin MP
  28. ^ "Aboriginal Access Centre delivering new courses at Berri Campus". TAFE SA. TAFE SA. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  29. ^ "Riverland". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  30. ^ a b "Parks of the Riverland: Healthy Parks, Healthy Regions". www.parks.sa.gov.au. Dept. or Environment and Natural resources. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  31. ^ Sydney Morning Herald (2 July 2008). "Xenophon want help for Murray River". Fairfax. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  32. ^ "Katfish Reach". katfish.org.au. Retrieved 17 May 2017.

34°15′S 140°28′E / 34.250°S 140.467°E / -34.250; 140.467