fishing on Lake Bonney, Barmera
Attractive service town on the shores of Lake
Located 221 km north east of Adelaide and 29
metres above sea level on the shores of Lake
Bonney, Barmera is a substantial service centre
for the surrounding citrus, vineyard and orchard
No one knows exactly where the word 'barmera'
comes from. Some sources claim it is an
Aboriginal word for 'water place' or 'land
dwellers' while other sources insist it comes
from Barmeedjie, the name of a tribal group of
Aborigines who lived on the northern banks of
the Murray River before European settlement.
Lake Bonney, which is really the centre of
Barmera, was first sighted by Europeans in 1838
when Charles Bonney (after whom the lake is
named) and Joseph Hawdon drove cattle along the
banks of the Murray River. They reached Lake
Bonney on 12 March, 1838 and Hawdon recorded in
his journal: 'At sunset we opened on plains,
sprinkled with tufts of grass. I discovered a
fine lake of fresh water, about 30 miles in
circumference, and on its margin we encamped ...
The Blacks were encamped further along the lake
and from the noise they made we know they must
have noticed our arrival.'
The first settlement in the area grew up
around the Overland Corner Hotel (built 1859)
which was a popular haunt for drovers moving
through the area. As early as 1850 there were so
many drovers passing through the area that a
small police station was established to control
the problems which were flaring between the
drovers and the Aborigines. By 1867 the area was
dominated by the Cobdogla run.
In the late 19th century, with the success of
fruit growing at Renmark and Mildura, people
began to float the idea that the area around
Barmera could be turned into a rich orchard and
vineyard. By 1911 surveys had been carried out
to see if the area between Cobdogla and Berri
could be irrigated. It was on the basis of this
survey that an irrigation system was established
in 1921 leading to the town being gazetted and
an influx of soldier settlers who had been
promised properly irrigated land. The railway
was opened in 1928 and the following year
Barmera was declared a town.
A sailing regatta is held at Easter on Lake
Things to see:
Napper's Old Accommodation Hotel/House
Now a ruin, Nappers Old Accommodation is located
at the northern end of Lake Bonney. It was built
around 1863 by William Napper and, at the time,
was known as the Lake Bonney Hotel. It is now
nothing more than a ruins. During its heyday the
house/hotel was a vital place for supplies and
Napper irrigated his land thus probably becoming
the first person to grow crops by irrigation
along the Murray River.
Cobdogla Irrigation & Steam Museum
Located 5 km west of Barmera this unusual museum
contains the world's only working Humphrey Pump.
These gas-driven pumps were used for the early
irrigation of the area. They actually operated
like a water cannon with the water being
propelled by an explosion of gas. The pump is
now part of the State's Heritage. For opening
and visiting details contact (08) 8588 2289.
Rocky's Country Music Hall of Fame
Located in Barwell Avenue this is a celebration
of Australian country music. It is part of the
overall plan to turn Barmera into the Tamworth
of South Australia. There is also a country
music festival in the town every June.
The Donald Campbell Obelisk
Located on Queen Elizabeth Drive this Obelisk
records the fact that the famous English
speedster, Donald Campbell, back in 1964
attempted to break the world water speed record
on Lake Bonney. It also admits that he was
unsuccessful. He reached 347.5 km/h but the lake
was too small and the waves created by the
speeding vehicle were too dangerous.
Corner Hotel near Barmera
The Overland Corner Hotel
Located at Barmera West, this historic hotel was
built in 1859 on a site - 'Overland Corner' -
which had become a popular resting place for
drovers moving huge numbers of sheep across to
South Australia from New South Wales. It was
commissioned by John Chambers, a successful
pastoralist and built by William, Henry and
George Brand. Red gum, which has been cut into
tiles, has been used as the flooring in the bar.
It was purchased by the National Trust in 1965
and consequently the building which canıt be
altered. Its importance lies largely in the fact
that it is the first stone building in this area
Not surprisingly the hotel has been the site
of a number of adventures and mishaps. It is
said that Captain Moonlite, a well known
bushranger, rode his horse into the bar. In the
early 20th century it was the local mail
receival point and in the 1920s German settlers
used to use it for dances
There are historic graves in the area and
there are also remnants of an old copper mine.
The pub was actually flooded in the 1950s and
there is a large levee bank protecting it from
the Murrayıs flood.
There is a walking trail which starts from
the old Hotel. Brochures can be obtained from
Located on the Sturt Highway at Barmera is
Bonneyview Wines which is open from 9.00 a.m. to
5.30 p.m. daily, tel: (08) 8588 2279.