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SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future


The first irrigation development in South Australia occurred in 1881 when swampland was drained near Jervois in the Lower Murray area. The major step towards full-scale irrigated agricultural development, however, took place in 1887 when the Canadian Chaffey Brothers set up a major irrigation settlement at Renmark. From the 1890s, irrigation settlements were established up and down the Murray Valley. After both World Wars the government settled returned soldiers along the River to engage in irrigated fruit growing. The influx of migrants at these times also led to the establishment of many private enterprises. Irrigation has allowed the semi-arid areas around the River Murray to flourish and become some of the most important agricultural areas in South Australia.

Chaffey Brothers Irrigation Colonies
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Small portraits of the Chaffey Brothers
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