State Library of South Australia logoDownstream, the River Murray in South Australia
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

River Murray focus


 Posters and postcards    
 Festivals and food    

From earliest times to the present, the power and striking natural beauty of the River Murray have been a source of creative inspiration for artists, storytellers, authors, and musicians. The constantly changing river is a compelling subject, particularly the paradox that a destructive event such as a flood, with its devastating effects on property and lives, can also be a remarkable visual spectacle.

Early in the European settlement of Australia's inland, the Murray was a crucial waterway with paddle-steamers plying their trade up and down the river, carting primary products and making return journeys with provisions and farming equipment. In more recent times, regulation and irrigation systems have increased productivity along the river, and the region is a popular tourist destination. The Murray has been of critical importance to the history and culture of the nation as a resource for vital water supplies, transportation, settlement, economic development, recreation, and spiritual and artistic expression. Today the River is challenged by containment, the impact of human manipulation, and ecological disruptions.

River Murray focus items provide examples of the continuing influence of the river, showing how it has captured the imagination across different eras and mediums. Several works draw attention to man's relationship with the environment and the need for considered conservation.



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