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Swan Reach, SA

Historic river port on the South Australian side of the Murray River

Swan Reach is a rural service town for holidaymakers, visitors wanting to picnic on the banks of the Murray River, and sheep and cereal farmers who use the rich soils for fruit and vegetable growing. The town's small population expands during weekends and holidays. The local tourist industry revolves around holiday home dwellers on the river front downstream from the town. Swan Reach is a fascinating example of how slowly the Murray flows when it gets near Lake Alexandrina. At this point, although the traveller is still more than 80 km from the river's mouth, the river's elevation is only 0.75 m above sea level.

Location

Swans Reach is located 170 km north east of Adelaide via Gawler and Blanchetown. It is 178 km via Murray Bridge and Walker Flat. The small settlement is on the Murray River between Blanchetown and Mannum.

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Origin of Name

It is generally accepted that the town's name is a description of the black swans which live in the area on the Murray River

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Things to See and Do

Swan Reach Hotel
Located overlooking the Murray River, the Swan Reach Hotel was built around the original Swan Reach homestead which was built around 1855. The hotel's website (see https://swanreachhotel.com.au) explains that: "From 1861 the original Swan Reach Station consisted of a few huts, workmen’s quarters, sheds and ramps. One can still see the remains of some of these buildings located near the Hotel’s now great beer garden area. On the river side of the fence are the remains of a loading ramp, where bales of wool from the shearing shed were unloaded from a small tramway system. The bales were then sent down to the river’s edge via wooden slides, to the waiting barges that were on their way to Goolwa. In 1896 Paul Hasse from Lobethal purchased his 520 acres in Swan Reach which included a homestead. His wife Emma applied for, and was granted a liquor licence on 12th September 1899. Emma died the following year and Paul continued to run the Hotel. The Swan Reach Hotel is owned by J & AG Johnston Ltd of Oakbank, who bought it from the founding owners, the Hasse Family, in March 1914 and they still own the hotel today. There have been several major additions to the hotel over its years of operation. The stone one-room public bar was built after 1907, the second storey in 1912 and in the 1940s again there was some major renovations. The superb dining room with its magnificent river views was added in 1996. The original L shape design structure is still apparent."

Historic Sites and Buildings
The Swan Reach website (see https://www.swanreach.sa.au/historical-sites) lists a small number of relatively new buildings around town which are of interest:
* War Memorial (1918)
* Swan Reach Town Hall (1933)
* CWA Hall (1950)
* Swan Reach Police Station (1911)
* Swan Reach Lutheran Church (1923)

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Other Attractions in the Area

Yookamurra Sanctuary
Located at 745 Yookamurra Road, 24 km north-east of Sedan, the Yookamurra Wildlife Sanctuary covers 5,027 ha of the Murraylands and aims to retain, and introduce, rare native wildlife into an area of pristine mallee country. It proudly declares that the area has 21 mammal species, 64 varieties of reptiles, 7 threatened wildlife species, 121 birds, 4 amphibians and 164 plants. The detailed website (see https://www.australianwildlife.org/where-we-work/yookamurra) explains: "Yookamurra is a stronghold for many species that are disappearing rapidly across Australia, including Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat and Malleefowl. There is a feral-proof fence around 1,100 hectares of the property, providing refuge for wild populations of several threatened species ... Within its 1,100 hectare feral-free area, Yookamurra protects vitally important wild populations of four threatened mammals: the Bilby, Numbat, Burrowing Bettong (Boodie) and Brush-tailed Bettong (Woylie). Populations of Numbats, Brush-tailed Bettongs and Bilbies have declined significantly over the last 10 to 15 years, and the Burrowing Bettong is extinct on mainland Australia except in large fenced areas. All four species are secure at Yookamurra. Yookamurra also protects populations of Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats, as well as small mammals such as the Western Pygmy Possum, Common and Fat-tailed Dunnarts."
It is currently available to school groups and there is accommodation and organised school tours available. For more details contact (08) 8562 5011.

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History

* Prior the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Moorundie Aboriginal people, part of the Meru language group.

* The first Europeans in the area were German settlers moving east from the Barossa Valley in 1838.

* The first vessel to navigate the Murray River mouth travelled up the river in 1841.

* In 1848 stockmen forded the Murray River at the place which became known as Swan Reach.

* Swan Reach was first settled in the 1850s and was originally the largest of five sheep and cattle stations in the area.

* By the 1850s Swan Reach had become one of the first riverboat ports in South Australia and was a loading port for grain and wool. Trading boats came through once a week to sell their wide range of goods.

* In 1878 a rail link from Morgan to Adelaide was opened and traffic on the river declined. 

* The ferry has always been an important method of crossing the river and was first installed in 1897 and was operated by a hand winch.

* In 1899 a liquor license was granted to the Swan Reach Hotel.

* The Murray River experienced a major flood in 1917.

* Swan Reach was seriously damaged by a flood in 1931.

* Most of the businesses in the main street were destroyed by the 1956 flood.

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Visitor Information

There is no Visitor Information in Swan Reach.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out https://www.swanreach.sa.au.

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