State Library of South Australia logoDownstream, the River Murray in South Australia
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European settlement along the Murray


River Murray Towns    
Village Settlements on the River Murray    
Soldier Settlement    

The first European settlement on the River Murray in South Australia was Moorundie, settled in 1841. It was established by the explorer and Protector of Aborigines, Edward John Eyre, who monitored and attempted to allay the conflicts between the indigenous inhabitants and the overlanders who passed through the area. Eyre had discovered the area around Moorundie during his exploration in 1839 and later was granted 1411 acres by the colonial government.

In 1853 the era of steam navigation of the River Murray began and river ports grew. Then, in 1887, the Canadian Chaffey brothers established the first irrigation settlement in Australia at Renmark. Once the possibility of creating fertile land alongside the mighty waterway by the use of irrigation was realised more European settlers began to take up land around the River Murray. The South Australian government saw an opportunity to assist those who lost their jobs in the depression of the 1890s by settling them along the Murray. This scheme intended that the village settlements would work along communal lines and, after a period of government support, would become be self-supporting. The scheme was not a success.

After the First and Second World Wars, the government again settled citizens in irrigation colonies along the River Murray - this time returned soldiers and their families. This period saw the flourishing of many of the communities that now exist along the Murray in South Australia.



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