Album #2

 
 

The Riverland is one of South Australia’s major food-growing areas, producing almonds, wine and table grapes, citrus, stone and pome fruit, fresh and dried, vegetables, and olive oil produced for local, interstate and overseas markets.

   A virtual ‘oasis‘ within an expanse of semi-arid desert, the area is bisected by the Murray river that flows 650 ‘river kms’ west from its eastern border just inside Victoria, turning south on towards the ocean. Hot dry summers and low winter rainfall  provide less than an average 250 mm of annual rainfall, requiring irrigation water to be pumped all year round to support the region’s domestic and horticultural activities, and making it the region’s most vital resource.    

   Sparse population and cattle-raising at Cobdogla and Calperum Stations were among the earliest recorded European-based activities. Now there are six major Riverland towns where approximately 35,000 people live 3 hours drive north-east of Adelaide, the furthest being Renmark, Berri, then Loxton, Barmera, Waikerie and the historic “port” of Morgan where the Murray flows due south past up-lifted lime-stone cliffs, towards the much less populated south-west towns of Blanchetown and Swan Reach and on to its mouth.    

   The recent 10-year ‘millennium’ drought brought critical water shortages, turning this vital resource into an expensive and scarce commodity thereby forcing a number of growers to cease irrigation and production. Despite these dire consequences, irrigated horticultural production still remains the dominant activity in the Riverland. New and evolving horticultural enterprises based on traditional as well as new crops are emerging as growers plant crop varieties more suited to the harsh climate, and use alternative horticultural practices to grow them more sustainably.   Adding value through small scale local wine production has also coincided  with the implementation of organic/bio-dynamic principles and practices that help to boost quality consistent with winning national wine awards.

   Since 2007, the selling of fresh fruit and vegetables direct to the customer at the award-winning Riverland Farmers’ Market has enabled customers and producers to access alternative markets and inject much needed vitality and revenue into the small producer and commerce sector in the Riverland!

    A popular holiday destination of choice for many, tourism continues to be an important contributor to the region’s economy. The natural and riverine environment associated with each community provides visitors with a unique lifestyle and outdoor experience.  Sport is also well catered for in the region, with exceptional amenities and facilities in each town making the region’s lifestyle second to none.

    The Murray is undoubtedly our most precious and vital lifeline, with its system of locks and weirs connecting people and communities as well as supporting the riverine environment and surrounding bushland that uniquely characterises the region.