Hill River (South Australia)

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The Hill River is an ephemeral river in South Australia which rises about 3 kilometres east of Penwortham, and flows northward roughly parallel to the Hutt River, to the east of the latter, until near the town of Spalding where, like the Hutt, it becomes a tributary of the Broughton River.


The Hill River drains a catchment area of 230 km2. The average annual observed flow in 2000–04 was 2,568 ML/a.[1] Most of the catchment emanates from the Camels Hump Range and to a lesser degree from the Stony Range. Slab Hut Creek is amongst the more significant tributaries. The river has a low gradient which, combined with a broad and shallow catchment valley, renders it unsuitable as the site of any significant reservoir. In some areas the clearing of native vegetation has led to erosion and steep banks. The Hill River also gives its name to the Hill River geographical locality, which is within the Northern Areas Council.[2]


Prior to European settlement it was the traditional home of the Ngadjuri people. The first European explorer to discover the Hill River was Edward John Eyre, on 5 June 1839, who named it after explorer John Hill because he was 'the gentleman who discovered its twin river, the Hutt'.[3] Eyre described it as, 'a fine chain of ponds taking its course through a very extensive and grassy valley, but with little timber of any kind growing near it.'

The first pastoralist on the Hill River was Charles Campbell (1811–59), an overlander, who established a sheep run there in 1842 in connection with Henry Strong Price (1825–89), taking out an occupation licence in January 1843. Their resident stock-keeper was William Roach. In 1844 William Robinson (1814–1889), another overlander, established Hill River Station about mid-way along its length.[4] This became one of the great South Australian pastoral properties of the 1800s, being subsequently owned 1855–76 by Charles Brown Fisher and then by John Angas.


When closer settlement came in the 1860s, a government-sponsored town named Hilltown was surveyed north of Clare and just west of the Hill River in the Hundred of Milne, County of Stanley. The first lots at Hilltown were sold by public auction in March 1866.[5]

Commencing in the 1850s an upstream portion of the Hill River near Saint Aloysius' College, Sevenhill attracted a colony of Irish and Polish settlers, that locality becoming known in relatively recent decades as Polish Hill River.


  1. ^ Water Allocation Plan for the Clare Valley Prescribed Water Resources Area, (Government of South Australia, 2009) ISBN 978-0-9806143-1-2
  2. ^ http://www.placenames.sa.gov.au/pno/searchResults.jsf
  3. ^ Eyre, Edward John : Autobiographical Narrative, 1833–1839. (Jill Waterhouse, ed., Caliban Books, 1984.) p. 205.
  4. ^ Clare : a district history / by Robert J, Noye (1975)
  5. ^ Register newspaper, 2 March 1866, p. 3.