Waikerie

Waikerie
Town which describes itself as 'The Citrus Centre of Australia'.
Located 177 km north-east from Adelaide and 30 metres above sea level on the Murray River, Waikerie describes itself as 'The Citrus Centre of Australia' partly because it is in the heart of South Australia's rich Riverland district.

It is a small, pleasant town sitting on the cliffs above the Murray River and surrounded by both citrus and extensive stands of stone fruits - apricots, peaches, pears and plums.

The town itself is located a few kilometres off the Sturt Highway. It is worth diverting for the views across the Murray River which has carved its way through the landscape. The water from the Murray has to be pumped up the cliffs to provide the citrus orchards with water.

Prior to European settlement the area was probably inhabited by the Yuyu Aborigines. It is from their language that the town's name derived some sources believing that it means 'many wings or birds' or 'anything that flies'. The river provided abundant food and they lived well off a diet of kangaroos, emus, wombats, goannas, lizards, ducks, turtles, fish, snakes and bird eggs.

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 the junction with the Murray River on 14 January 1830. He continued down Australia's largest river passing the site of modern day Waikerie and commenting on the grandeur of the cliffs in the area. He reached Lake Alexandrina, at the mouth of the river, on 9 February, 1830.

From this point onwards there was always the thought that the Murray River could be used for transportation and access to the western areas of New South Wales and Queensland. However it wasn't until the formal establishment of Goolwa as the port at the mouth of the Murray in the 1850s that this became a reality.

Because of the steepness of the cliffs Waikerie was never seriously considered as a Murray River port. It was not until the 1880s that people started moving into the area. In 1882 W.T. Shepard established the Waikerie station. His son has written: 'A pine hut was then the only building on the spot. Waikerie means 'anything that flies' or is a word that indicates a favourite spot for wildfowl ... he sank and equipped the first well. It is still known as Shephard's Well. He purchased the engine in Melbourne, and the whole concern cost him £1000. The natives called the well Marananga, meaning 'my hand', because the water could be drawn up by hand.

The township was established as an experiment in decentralisation (and partly to solve unemployment in Adelaide) when, in 1894, a readymade town of 281 people arrived in a paddlesteamer. Fortunately the experiment worked. By the end of the first year 3400 vines, 7000 lemon and 6000 stone fruit trees had been planted. By 1910 the township was named Waikerie (after the station) by Governor Bosanquet and by 1914 the farmers were so committed to their success that the first meeting of the Waikerie Co-Operative Fruit Company (later to become the Waikerie Producers Co-Operative) was held. Today the company has one of the largest fruit processing operations in the southern hemisphere.

Things to see:

The Orange Tree
Located on the Sturt Highway and open seven days a week, The Orange Tree is the ideal place to taste the citrus produce of the local area and to get advice on what to see and where to go. For more information contact (08) 8541 2332.

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The Township and the Scenic Lookout
Waikerie is more interesting than most of the towns along the Murray River. The local council, with a good sense of fun, have provided garbage bins in the shape of oranges to reflect the prevailing local industry. There are also a considerable number of attractive sandstone buildings and, at the top of the main street, is a huge diesel engine in a small park. Particularly impressive, take Goodchild Street off Peake Terrace, is the Scenic Lookout which is perched on top of the cliffs and offers excellent views across the Murray (with the ferry far below) and also of the large chimney which is now protected by order of the National Trust.

Sunlands Pumping Station
Located 10 km north-west of Waikerie the pumping station (worth visiting to appreciate just how important water from the Murray is to the surrounding area) offers excellent views over the surrounding countryside.

Gliders
Waikerie has an international reputation as an ideal gliding centre. The air is dry and the thermals are ideal. It has actually hosted the world gliding competition. For more information contact the local Waikerie Gliding Club on (08) 8541 2644.

Tourist Information Centre
The Orange Tree Sturt Hwy
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8541 2332
Facsimile: (08) 8541 3141

Kirriemuir Motel
Sturt Hwy
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8541 2488
Rating: ****

Waikerie Hotel/Motel
McCoy St P.O. Box 194
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8541 2999
Rating: **

C J Duncan Bed & Breakfast
Nitschke Rd P.O. Box 452
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8589 3083

Kirriemuir Cabins
Sturt Hwy
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8541 2488
Rating: ***

Sunlands Caravan Park
Cadell St
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8541 9073

Waikerie Caravan Park
Peake Tce
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8541 2651
Rating: ***

Green & Gold Houseboats
27 Harden St
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8541 2001

Jensta Houseboats
Ramco Rd
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8541 2757
Facsimile: (08) 8541 2123

Waikerie Hotel/Motel
2 McCoy St
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8541 2999

Waikerie Pizza House
10 White St
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 8541 2398

Waikerie Cafe
14 McCoy St
Waikerie SA 5330
Telephone: (08) 9541 2162

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