Meningie is a fishing and holiday town on the shores of Lake Albert. Modern agricultural methods have ensured the previously unusable soils of the area now support irrigated crops and dairy farms.
Where is it?: Murray Riverlands. 152 km south-east of Adelaide.
Meningie is a charming holiday destination at the northern end of The Coorong. The large number of parks beside the lake, the reeds and the large numbers of birds, all combine to make it a town of particular beauty.
Natural features: Murray River mouth; Lake Albert; The Coorong; Younghusband Peninsula; Pink Salt Lake; Mundoo, Long, Ewe, Reedy, Mud and Snake Islands; Narruing Narrows; Salt Lagoon Islands Conservation Park (25 km south-east of Goolwa); Yalkuri Sanctuary.
Heritage features: Poltalloch Homestead, Narrung (1876); Mundoo Lighthouse, Point Malcolm (the smallest inland lighthouse in Australia, 1878)
Boating and Bird Watching: The great attractions of this area are the boating and the bird watching. There are birds everywhere along the shores of Lake Albert and the boating around the lake is ideal.
Pink Salt Lake: On the road between Tailem Bend and Meningie is the 'Pink Lake'. These lakes are quite common in dryer areas and are coloured by the presence of algae known as beta caratine in the waters.
Trig Hill Lookout: It is quite hard to gain any kind of elevation on this very flat area. Trig Hill is one of the few places which offers views over the town and the surrounding area. Drive east along North Terrace to get to the lookout.
Poltalloch Homestead: Built in 1876 at Narrung this beautiful Victorian mansion is a reminder of the wealth that was generated in the area at this time. Today it is still a working farm being operated by the descendants of John Bowman who established it as a sheep and cattle station. The outbuildings resemble a small village and include substantial stables, a coach house, barns, a woolshed and the manager's accommodation. It is open for tours and overnight accommodation. Bookings are essential. Contact (08) 8574 0043.
Point Malcolm Lighthouse: The Point Malcolm Lighthouse is not only the smallest inland lighthouse in Australia, but the only freshwater inland lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere. It was established to help guide paddlesteamers across Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina.
Narrung ferry: Interesting ferry which allows road traffic across the flatlands between Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina. It is necessary to take the ferry across to the Tailem Bend side of the lake to reach Portalloch Station.
Historically there were five Aboriginal tribal groupings living on The Coorong and in the Meningie district. They are still known as the Ngarrindjeri people (they are the same people who fought over secret women's business at Goolwa). They made bark and reed canoes, lived on the fish and molluscs in the area, and built shelters against the cold Southern Ocean winds.
The Ngarrindjeri people were decimated by the arrival of Europeans. The combination of smallpox (which raged all the way up the Murray River) and massacres saw the numbers of Aborigines on The Coorong drop from an estimated 3200 in 1842 to a mere 511 by 1874. It is widely accepted that 'meningie' is an Aboriginal word meaning 'mud' - an entirely appropriate name for the town.
The first European into the area was Captain Charles Sturt who, being assigned to solve the great mystery of why so many rivers flowed westward from the Great Dividing Range (often known as the question of whether Australia had an 'inland sea') rowed a whale boat down the Murrumbidgee in late 1829 and reached Lake Alexandrina, at the mouth of the Murray river, on 9 February, 1830.
Following Sturt the whole area along the Murray was opened up particularly by overlanders who moved sheep and cattle across the land. By the 1840s the area around Meningie had been opened up to large property owners and there was a ferry across the Murray River at Wellington. This led to the establishment of a coaching route from Adelaide to Melbourne which, until the 1850s when a route was found through the deserts further north, travelled along The Coorong. Travellers crossed the mouth of the Murray by paddlesteamers which plied the route between Meningie and Milang.
When the traffic moved north the town's importance declined but the richness of the local soils and the ready availability of water ensured its continuing importance as a centre for the surrounding agricultural lands.
Today, with modern agricultural methods of irrigation and cropping, the Meningie district is known as a hugely successful dairy area as well as producing substantial acreage of irrigated crops. The town also has a large fishing fleet.
Origin of name: of Aboriginal origin, said to mean 'mud'.