South Australia: Murray Riverland

The area known as The Riverland is located on the Murray River in South Australia, and extends from Renmark to Waikerie. The river, which flows 650km through South Australia, is tapped to provide domestic water to Adelaide and country towns as far away as Whyalla and Woomera. Central to the success of the region, it provides a natural resource for irrigation, a playground for tourists, and a natural environment for the native flora and fauna.

The major horticultural products grown are wine grapes, oranges, lemons, stonefruit, almonds, with increasing planting's of olives. The region also produces the earliest cherries in Australia.

Fruit is marketed to the Australian domestic market as well being exported to Asia, the United States, and Europe. Berri boasts the largest winery in the Southern Hemisphere, crushing some sixty thousand tonnes of grapes each year. Oranges and other fruit are juiced by a number of different companies. Stonefruit are dried using the natural heat of the sun. All major towns within the Region provide excellent sporting facilities including, swimming pools, golf courses, basketball stadiums, football fields, hockey, cricket ovals, baseball diamonds, water sports on the river and sailing on Lake Bonney.

The Great Murray River was born more than a hundred million years ago, and provided a source of food for the local Aborigines until the arrival of white men. Today the Murray meanders through South Australia's heartland to the sea giving its modern day explorers unforgettable encounters with abundant wildlife, historic towns, rich vineyards and orchards.

The first white settlers carved a niche out of semi arid country against incredible odds that had to be surmounted during the 20th century. Mark Twain compared the area favourably with the Mississippi River when he visited late in the 1890s. And indeed, a decade or two before he came, it seemed as if the Murray might well become another Mississippi.

Paddle steamers plied its full length, carrying wool, wheat and goods to and from the settlements along the Murray's banks, sometimes as far as the Darling Junction. But little by little, the railway took away the business, and the river never quite made it as a highway of trade. Then came irrigation, introduced to the Riverland in 1887 by Canadian George Chaffey, it transformed the northern section of the Murray into a lush paradise.

First Renmark appeared, followed by community-based settlements at Pyap, Lyrup, Berri, Barmera, Loxton and Waikerie. Soon the Riverland had become South Australia's Orchard, it remains that today.

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