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River Murray Towns: Barmera

  • Situated on the shores of Lake Bonney, a freshwater lake fed by the River Murray, Barmera is about 220 kilometres north east of Adelaide.
  • It is suggested that the name Barmera is a corruption of 'Barmeedji', the name of the Aboriginal tribe that lived in the area at the time of European settlement. Other sources claim it comes from an Aboriginal name for Lake Bonney or that it is a corruption of the Aboriginal word 'Pamuri' meaning place of king spears - a type of heavy spear thrown like a javelin.
  • Lake Bonney was first discovered by Europeans in 1838 when a team led by Joseph Hawdon and Charles Bonney (after whom the lake is named) brought the first cattle overland from New South Wales to South Australia.
  • Barmera continued to be an important stop on the overland stock route from New South Wales.
  • Pastoral leases were taken up in the district from the 1840s and several were combined to form the large Cobdogla run in 1867.
  • Settlement at Barmera began in 1912, but the town was not surveyed until 1920 and gazetted in 1921.
  • Many of the first residents of Barmera were soldier settlers returned from the First World War and established on the land through a government scheme.
  • In 1964 Englishman Donald Campbell attempted to break the water speed record on Lake Bonney. The Lake proved too small and the waves created by the boat were dangerous. Campbell's boat reached a speed of 347.5 kilometres an hour, but the world record was not broken. Campbell was successful in breaking the record on Lake Dumbyleyung, Western Australia, in the same year travelling at a speed of 444.7 km/h.
  • Today Barmera is a popular holiday destination, particularly with those attracted to the water sports available on Lake Bonney. A sailing regatta is held each year at Easter on the Lake.

Further reading

Irwin, Graham. A brief history of Barmera 1838-1996, Barmera: Barmera 75th Anniversary Committee, 1997

Lamshed, Max. The river's bounty: a history of Barmera and its people, [Barmera, SA]: Barmera District War Memorial Community Centre Inc, 1952

Links

Discovering Berri Barmera  [Berri Barmera Council]

RiverMurray.com.au - Barmera 

Sydney Morning Herald travel - Barmera

Barmera
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Barmera Movie Ball
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Dwelling, Barmera
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Lake Bonney
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Lake Bonney, Barmera
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Lake Bonney, Barmera
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Soldier settler's home
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Sultanas being harvested at Barmera
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Survey Group, Barmera
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