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River Murray Towns: Waikerie

  • Waikerie is located about 180 kilometres north-east of Adelaide.
  • Before European settlement, the Ngawait tribe inhabited the area.
  • The name Waikerie is possibly derived from an Aboriginal word for 'anything that flies' or 'a favourite place for many birds' after the abundant birdlife of the area. Another suggestion is that it is from the Aboriginal word for the brown gum moth or for their seasonal mating flight.
  • Waikerie has been described as the 'citrus centre of Australia' because it is located in the middle of the Riverland area of South Australia, known for growing of citrus and other fruit trees.
  • Waikerie station was established by WT Shepard in 1880, but the township of Waikerie was created in 1894 when, as a response to the economic depression of the 1890s, the government established a village settlement there.
  • Unemployed people from Adelaide were relocated to the settlement where they would work in a co-operative system.
  • The first Waikerie settlers arrived at Waikerie in March 1894.
  • The village settlement was not as successful as hoped and only a year later only 27 of the 65 men originally registered with the settlement remained.
  • Those who stayed formed the core of the township of Waikerie which was surveyed as an irrigation settlement in 1910.
  • In 1914 the Waikerie Co-Operative Fruit Company (later to become the Waikerie Producers Co-Operative) was established.
  •  In 1917 land in the Waikerie Irrigation Area was allocated to the soldier settlement scheme under the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Act.
  • Waikerie is also a renowned centre for gliding with the World Gliding Championships held there in 1974.

Further reading

Arnold, Meredith. Waikerie and district: a pictorial history, Waikerie, SA: Waikerie and District Historical Society, 1989

Mack, David. The village settlements on the River Murray in South Australia, 1894-1909: a chronicle of communal life and hardship, [Somerton, SA: DB Mack, 1994]

Nunn, Jean. History of Waikerie: gateway to the Riverland, [Waikerie, SA]: Waikerie Historical Society, 1994

Links - Waikerie

Waikerie Tourist Information Centre

Clearing land at Waikerie
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Gliders at Waikerie
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Pumping Station, Waikerie
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View of Waikerie
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Waikerie Village settlement
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White Street, Waikerie
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