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Loxton, SA

Murray River service town with a well known and extensive historic village.

Loxton is a pleasant service town with wide streets which lies above the Murray River. The town is well known because its "The Village", an historic recreation of the early town, is a popular tourist attraction. The town's primary appeal is its location on the Murray River and the parks on the banks are grassy and ideal for picnics.

Location

Loxton is located 256 km east of Adelaide and 14 m above sea level.

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Origin of Name

The town was named after William Charles Loxton, a boundary rider on Bookpurnong Station. He lived beside the Murray River in Loxton's hut from 1878-1881.

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Things to See and Do

Discover Loxton - Drive and Walk
There is a "Discover Loxton" brochure which is available at the Visitor Information Centre. It is broken into two - "Walk" and "Drive".
The "Walk" component suggests three walks around town.
Route One is 1.7 km long and takes approximately 25 minutes. It starts at the Sturt Memorial at the bottom of the main street, goes along to the Historic Village and returns along the banks of the Murray River
Route Two is 3.3 km and takes around 50 minutes. It goes further along the riverbank past the Historic Village and includes the Tree of Knowledge and Packard Bend. It also starts at the Sturt Memorial.
Route Three is 5.3 km and takes around 75 minutes. It starts at the impressive Community Conservation and Heritage Park, heads down the main street, passes the Historic Village and includes the Scenic Lookout at Murray River National Park.

The "Drive" section has fifteen places of interest around town of which the most interesting are:
2. East Terrace and the Loxton Hotel
The town's main street is the very wide East Terrace. The main features of the East Terrace are the rotunda which was built to remember the local soldiers who fought in World War I and II; the Sturt Memorial overlooking the Murray River; and the Loxton Hotel which, although it has been much modified over the years, dates from 1908 (the second storey was added in 1921) and became a community hotel in 1946. Over the years it has donated over $100,000 to community projects.

4. Peppercorn Tree
Along the riverbank from the Historic Village (near the car park and below East Terrace) is a peppercorn tree. There is a plaque beside the peppercorn tree: "This peppertree was planted in 1878 by William Charles Loxton, a boundary rider on Bookpurnong Station who lived hereabout in Loxton's hut (or the Trap Hut) during 1878-1881." The place was known for years as Loxton's Hut and this, over time, was reduced to Loxton.

5. The Village - Historic Loxton
The Loxton Village is a hugely impressive 'historical village'. It comprises over 45 buildings all laid out along a main street and all fully furnished to reflect the era. The Historical Village represents Loxton between 1890 and 1939. It is easy to locate in Allen Hosking Drive on the riverfront at the bottom of East Terrace. As the website explains: "See how pioneers of the region transformed dry Mallee plains into lush citrus orchards and how farmers combated floods, drought, heat, rabbit plagues and devastating winds to produce some of the best cereal grain crops in the country. Experience the settler's lives, their churches, schools, homes and general stores." It is open daily from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm. Tel: (08) 8584 7194 or check http://www.thevillageloxton.com.au which has entry prices, the exhibits and the Village events. It is a hugely impressive website with spoken commentary on many of the main buildings in the village.

6. The Tree of Knowledge
When the Murray River floods it really floods. On the Tree of Knowledge, which is located further along the riverbank from The Village, you can see how high the 1956 flood got. It also records the heights of all the other floods.

10. Loxton Community Conservation & Heritage Park
This impressive community project on the main road into Loxton features an early homestead ruin (recreated), a richly diverse collection of local native plants, garden beds and ornamental fruit trees.  The park aims to depict Loxton’s development from its early settlement. The visitor can enjoy the park by wandering along an  800 metre pathway through the park. The highlights of the park include a collection of animals sculptured out of lopped Aleppo Pine trees. Riverland artist Tim Baulderstone was commissioned to carve the sculptures, shaping and carving the trunks with a chainsaw and an angle grinder. Year 9 art students from Loxton High School were given a particular tree to design, with the brief being native animals, flora or fauna. Designs, concepts and clay models were created prior to carving. Wander the path through the conservation park and see these 16 incredible tree carvings, including a frill-necked lizard, sulphur-crested cockatoo, goanna, eagle and a possum.

10. Stone Ruin and Stone Artworks in the Heritage Park
The sign outside the ruin explains: "The stone artworks are a significant component of the overall park design, aimed to symbolise and commemorate important aspects of the local community and environment. In particular a newly constructed stone house ruin refers to the early Lutheran pioneers who began building sturdy stone dwellings as soon as they settled in the district. A series of stone cans is based on the traditional method of constructing pyramidal survey points to mark heights and uses locally sourced stone and timber. Also, the form of the cairns makes reference to the common practice of cereal farmers in the region of piling up rocks they have cleared from their paddocks. The stone cams are used here to represent the major flood heights of the River Murray, the tallest representing the 1956 flood which left indelible memories with this community. This ruin was relocated to this site from the Cass property."

12. The Pines - Historic House and Garden
Located at 18 Henry Street and built in 1909, this historic sandstone villa and it’s contents were bequeathed to the people of Loxton by former owner, Mrs Ella Kingdon. The villa is situated on 2,000 square metres of beautifully restored gardens, and the contents of the house reveal the lifestyle of one of Loxton’s pioneering families. “The Pines” is maintained by volunteers and is open every Sunday afternoon at 2.00 pm for guided tours and other times by appointment. The gardens are open seven days a week. Tel: (08) 8584 7785 or 0439 671 256.

14. The Counterbalance
Beyond the Visitor Centre on Bookpurnong Road is a sculpture known as the Counterbalance which was installed in 2007 at the town's centenary. "The sculpture expresses a balance between opposing forces; light and dark, strong and vulnerable, Earth and water, culture and nature as well as the strength of the human spirit and the developing town in the face of isolation, drought, war and prejudice."

Loch Luna Cruises
One of the easiest, and most pleasant, ways to experience the Murray is in a small, and relatively short, cruise. The Loch Luna Cruises (tel: 0448 122 271) offer three hour cruises, departing at 9.30 am from Kingston on Murray, which travel on the Murray River, Nockburra Creek and Chambers Creek.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Banrock Station Wine & Wetlands Centre
Banrock Station, on Holmes Road off the Sturt Highway near Kingston On Murray, is a rare combination of a cellar door and a serious environmental project. The 1375 ha property proudly declares “Good Earth … Fine Wine … Banrock Station – Wines, Walks, Wildlife, Wetlands” and a percentage of the “proceeds of every wine sale” is contributed to “conservation projects around the globe”.

The station is divided into six landscape zones. The Wine and Wetland Centre and car park (Zone 6) is where wines produced from the station’s shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, semillon, chardonnay, Doradillo, riesling, viognier, grenache, malbec and montepulciano grapes can be tasted and where, in a beautiful setting overlooking the wetlands and floodplains, an excellent restaurant offers unique South Australian produce.

The property is divided into five zones. Zone 1 is the surrounding Mallee, Zone 2 is the wetlands and Zone 3 is the floodplain. Zone 4 is the Murray River and Zone 5 is the 236 ha vineyard.

Banrock’s two lagoons cover 250 hectares (main lagoon – 120 ha, eastern lagoon – 130 ha); boast eight kilometres of trails including 800 metres of well maintained boardwalk across the lagoons which is suitable for wheelchairs and people with a preference for very gentle strolling; have four bird hides where, on comfortable seats, the visitor can gaze across the peaceful lagoon waters at the pelicans, purple swamphens, black swans, little pied cormorants, yellow-billed spoonbills and Pacific black ducks which, as the Banrock walking brochure so colourfully explains, use the lagoon as their “nurseries, filters, shock absorbers and supermarkets”.

It is a compliment to Banrock’s current owners that they not only employ full time rangers and spend millions maintaining their wetlands but they have, since 1994, been restoring “the mallee, woodland, wetland and floodplain environments” so that today wine lovers can enjoy a superb meal with award winning wines and spend hours wandering through lands now committed to protecting the habitat for threatened species and migratory birds. The result is a memorable and worthwhile experience.

Murray River National Park
Katarapko
Katarapko lies across the Murray River to the north of Loxton but, apart from boat, it can only be accessed via the Old Sturt Highway between Glossop and Berri. This is 28 km north of Loxton. In total the Murray River National Park covers more than 13,000 ha of Murray River wetlands. It is characterised by attractive shaded banks, deep channels and lagoons and ideal spots for swimming, canoeing, fishing and picnicking. It is a sanctuary for more than 150 species of birds. For more information check out http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Murray_River/murray-river-national-park which has an excellent and detailed, downloadable map of the Katarapko area of the park.

Lock 4 (Bookpurnong Boat Ramp)
Located 16 km  north of Loxton via the Bookpurnong Road and Quast Road, Lock 4, which was completed in 1929, is an opportunity to see the controlled water system that is the lower Murray River, in operation. It is located 516 km upstream from the mouth of the Murray River.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area was inhabited by the Ngawait Aborigines who lived on a rich diet of kangaroos, emus, wombats, goannas, lizards, ducks, turtles, fish, snakes and bird eggs all of which existed on the banks of the river.

* The first European into the area was Captain Charles Sturt who, trying to answer the question as to why rivers flowed westward from the Great Dividing Range, 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 the Murray River and reached Lake Alexandrina on 9 February, 1830.

* The town was named after William Charles Loxton, a boundary rider on Bookpurnong Station, who lived beside the river in Loxton's hut from 1878-1881.

* By 1895 the district had been settled by predominantly German settlers who used the land for sheep and wheat.

* The town itself is relatively recent. It was named as recently as 1907.

* The railway line reached the town in 1914. It connected the town to Adelaide.

* After World War II (between 1948-1956) the War Service Land Settlement Scheme opened up the land to small holdings and large numbers of ex-servicemen moved into the area to grow grapes, citrus and stone fruits.

* In 1956 the Murray River at Loxton rose 26 feet (7.42 metres0 causing 562 houses to be evacuated and destroying over 17,000 fruit trees.

* This caused the town to grow quite rapidly so that it is now one of the most modern and substantial towns on the Murray River.

* In 2001 salt in the Murray River was such a problem that the town began participating in the salt interception scheme.

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Visitor Information

Loxton Visitor Information Centre, Bookpurnong Terrace, Loxton, tel: (08) 8584 8071.

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Useful Websites

The town has a useful local website. Check out http://www.visitloxton.com.au.

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Got something to add?

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1 suggestion so far
  • With the Loxton township and surrounding areas safe from any flood, the stats of houses and fruit trees affected, would seem to me to be very wide of the mark!
    The District Council of Loxton at the time took in settlements west of the town eg. Pyap, New Residence, Moorook and Kingston on Murray.
    There would certainly have been some damage in those areas.

    Rex Fielke