Hindmarsh Island

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Hindmarsh Island
Hindmarsh Island is located in South Australia
Hindmarsh Island
Location Murray River

Hindmarsh Island (Kumarangk in Ngarrindjeri dialect, coordinates 35°31′S 138°52′E / 35.517°S 138.867°E / -35.517; 138.867Coordinates: 35°31′S 138°52′E / 35.517°S 138.867°E / -35.517; 138.867) is an island in the lower Murray River near the town of Goolwa, South Australia. Located on the Fleurieu Peninsula, it is a popular tourist destination, which has increased in popularity since the Hindmarsh Island bridge was opened in 2001. The majority of the island is agricultural in nature


Plaque of a monument dedicated to Sturt and Barker on the island, erected in 1930.

The first European to set foot on Hindmarsh Island was Captain Charles Sturt in 1830. Sturt used the Island as a viewing point and from there he sighted the Murray Mouth. The following year (1831) Captain Collet Barker surveyed the Murray Mouth but was killed by Indigenous Australians after swimming across the mouth.

The island was named by Captain John William Dundas Blenkinsop in 1837 after South Australia's first Governor, Sir John Hindmarsh.

In 1849 Doctor Rankine was granted an occupational licence to become the island's first grazier. In 1853 Charles Price purchased section 20 (80 acres)on the island.

In the 1850s a flour mill was constructed. In 1857 a signal mast was erected at Barker Knoll to convey safe passage condition messages to vessels wishing to pass through the mouth. A public ferry began operations between Goolwa and the island in 1858. In the same year the first inter colonial telegraph line passed through the island to link Adelaide with Melbourne. In 1861 the cemetery was surveyed. In 1900 a cheese factory was built.

Hereford cattle and Shropshire sheep arrived in South Australia in 1868, when Charles Price introduced them onto the island.

Hindmarsh Island today has fresh water on its northern shore and salt water on the southern shores, the waters being separated by a series of barrages. As early as 1914 an experimental barrage was constructed to link Hindmarsh Island with Mundoo Island. Construction of the permanent barrages took place between 1935-1940 with the aim of maintaining a consistent water level around the river Port of Goolwa and keeping salt water from the northern shore improving agricultural opportunities.

Mains electricity arrived on the island 1965.

In the 1970s, Little Penguins were present on Hindmarsh Island. Today, the colony is extinct.[1]

The area to the east of the Murray Mouth of Hindmarsh Island is the beginning of the Coorong National Park. In November 1985 approximately 1,405 square kilometres of area around the island was designated as a Ramsar wetland site of international importance to promote the conservation and sustainable use of wetland areas. In 2001, approximately a third of the island, the 10.81 km² Wyndgate property, was added to the Coorong National Park.

As of 2005 the Hindmarsh Island Marina boasts the title of the largest freshwater marina in the Southern Hemisphere.[2]

The Hindmarsh Island Bridge[edit]

View of the Hindmarsh Island Bridge from the Goolwa wharf.

March 4, 2001 saw the official opening of the Hindmarsh Island Bridge linking the island to Goolwa. The bridge became a focus of national controversy when a group of local Indigenous people (the Ngarrindjeri) and some landowners objected to its construction. It was alleged that the Ngarrindjeri objectors fabricated the cultural significance of the island (the Secret Women's Business) in order to help fight the development.

A later Royal Commission decided that the Secret Women's Business was made up. Construction was blocked by the Keating Government but given the go-ahead by the Howard Government in 1996 (for more information, see Hindmarsh Island bridge controversy).

Five years after the Royal Commission findings, the Ngarrindjeri who had stated the bridge desecrated sites sacred to women were vindicated. The Reasons for Decision by Federal Court Judge, Mr Justice John von Doussa,[Chapman v Luminis Pty Ltd (No 5)[2001] FCA 1106 (21 August 2001)] explain, "the evidence received by the Court on this topic is significantly different to that which was before the Royal Commission. Upon the evidence before this Court I am not satisfied that the restricted women's knowledge was fabricated or that it was not part of genuine Aboriginal tradition' (paragraph 12). Further Justice von Doussa found the nine Ngarrindjeri women who testified about their beliefs to be 'credible witnesses who genuinely hold the beliefs and recollections expressed by them' (paragraph 317).

Hindmarsh Island Forest[edit]

The Hindmarsh Island Forest covers up to 11% of the island. The forest is spread out over different parts of the Island. There is a West Forest and an East Forest.

West Forest[edit]

West Forest (35°30'28.32"S, 138°48'59.26"E) is located on the west side of the Island, the northern part of the West Forest is the Hindmarsh Island Caravan Park (-35.503767"S, 138.814702"E). Also next to the Caravan Park is Karinga Park Homestead (35°30'14.35"S, 138°49'10.57"E) which also is a part of the West Forest. Other parts of the West Forest colide with peoples properties. Same parts of the forest are used for timber and some of it is private land. There is also a Telstra Telephone Tower (35°30'32.10"S,138°49'0.57"E), which is no longer in use. The West Forest increases on the hill towards the centre; this hill is the tallest point on Hindmarsh Island, which is why the Telephone Tower was built there, to send out a clear signal to Hindmarsh Island. The West forest mainly consists of Aleppo Pines, which were planted in the 1970s. The West Forest has trees ranging from 25m - 50m tall.

East Forest[edit]

East Forest (35°30'28.00"S, 138°54'28.43"E) is located on the east side of the island, the Forest mainly collides with residents property's, it was originally planted in the late 1980s to keep the sound away and to provide protection from the wind. The East Forest has smaller trees than the west forest, because the trees where planted later than the trees in the West Forest.The trees in the East Forest are the mostly the same trees that are in the West Forest which are Aleppo Pines (Pinus halepensis). The East Forest trees range from 10m - 30m tall.

Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis)


A wide range of animals live in the Hindmarsh Island Forest:

Blue Tongue Lizards

The Blue Tongue Lizard (Tiliqua adelaidens) is a large lizard with a blue tongue which can be bared as a bluff-warning to potential enemies. These skinks feed on a wide variety of insects, land snails, flowers, fruits and berries. The lizards often hide below the pine needles in the forest.

Australian White Ibis

The Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis moluccus), is a wading bird of the ibis family, Threskiornithidae. This species is widespread across much of Australia. It has a predominantly white plumage with a bare, black head, long downcurved bill, and black legs. There have been many reported sightings of this bird by the public in the forest. They often seek shade as much as they can. They are sometimes found as individual birds, but they are most often reported as a group.

European Rabbits

The European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a rabbit that is native to southwestern Europe (Spain and Portugal) and northwest Africa (Morocco and Algeria). It has been widely introduced elsewhere, often with devastating effects on the local biodiversity. In Australia, they have bred profusely. They are often found on the forest floor. They are very shy animals and tend to avoid humans.

Red Bellied Black Snake

The red-bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) is a species of elapid snake native to eastern Australia. Though its venom is capable of causing significant morbidity, a bite from it is not generally fatal and is less venomous than other deadly Australian snakes. It is common in woodlands, forests and swamplands of eastern Australia. It is one of Australia's best-known snakes. It has an average total length of 1.5 to 2 metres.

Australian Magpies

The Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) is a medium-sized black and white passerine bird native to Australia. The adult Australian Magpie is a fairly robust bird ranging from 37 to 43 cm (14.5–17 in) in length, with distinctive black and white plumage, gold brown eyes and a solid wedge-shaped bluish-white and black bill.

Australian Masked Owl

The Australian Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae) a relatively large barn owl with large powerful feet, a rounded head and no ear-tufts. The Australian Masked Owl is a nocturnal, secretive bird. It roosts by day in dense foliage of tall trees or in hollow tree trunks, or sometimes in caves and holes between rocks. At night time people have reported the sound of an Australian Masked Owl.

Wagyu Bull

A Wagyu Bull is a Japanese breed of cattle. The Bull was imported to Australia in the 19th and 20th centuries for farming and as a source of meat. After time they bred in Australia, and now the population is in the tens of thousands. Some of the Bulls were brought in to forests and into farm areas. In this case the Bulls were brought into the Hindmarsh Island Forest. Bulls in the forest are normally seen sitting in the shade or eating grass amongst the trees. People are warned not to interfere with the Bulls in the forest, because they could become aggressive. The Bulls were brought into onto the island in the late 20th century for farming.


  1. ^ Wiebken, A. Conservation Priorities for Little Penguin Populations in Gulf St Vincent SARDI, South Australia (June 2011). Retrieved 2014-01-26.
  2. ^ "Hindmarsh Island Marina Flooded Today!". Murray River Web Site. 2000. Retrieved 2006-10-12. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bell, Diane (ed.) (2008). Listen to Ngarrindjeri Women Speaking. Melbourne: Spinifex Press.
  • Bell, Diane. (2001). The word of a woman: Ngarrindjeri stories and a bridge to Hindmarsh Island. In Peggy Brock (Ed.), Words and Silences: Aboriginal Women, politics and land (pp. 117–138). Sydney: Allen and Unwin.
  • Bell, Diane. (1998). Ngarrindjerri Wurruwarrin: A world that is, was, and will be. Melbourne: Spinifex Press.
  • Berndt, Ronald M. and Catherine H. Berndt with John Stanton. (1993). A World That Was: The Yaraldi of the Murray River and the Lakes, South Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press at the Miegunyah Press.
  • Brodie, Veronica. (2007). My Side of the Bridge: The life story of Veronica Brodie as told to Mary-Anne Gale. Kent Town: Wakefield Press.
  • Fergie, Deane. (1996) Secret envelopes and inferential tautologies. Journal of Australian Studies, 48, pp. 13–24.
  • Hemming, Steven J. (1996). Inventing Ethnography. In Richard Nile and Lyndall Ryan (Eds.), Secret Women's Business: The Hindmarsh Affair, Journal of Australian Studies, 48, pp. 25–39. St Lucia, UQP.
  • Hemming, Steven J. (1997). Not the slightest shred of evidence: A reply to Philip Clarke’s response to “Secret Women’s Business.” Journal of Australian Studies, 5 (3) pp. 130–145.
  • Hemming, Stephen J. and Tom Trevorrow. (2005). Kungun Ngarrindjeri Yunnan: archaeology, colonialism and re-claiming the future. In Claire Smith and H. Martin Wobst (Eds.) Indigenous Archaeologies: Decolonising Theory and Practice Routledge, pp. 243 – 261. New York: Routledge.
  • Jenkin, Graham. (1979). Conquest of the Ngarrindjeri: The story of the lower Lakes Tribes. Adelaide: Rigby.
  • Kartinyeri, Doreen. (1983). The Rigney Family Genealogy. Adelaide: The Aboriginal Research Centre in the University of Adelaide.
  • Kartinyeri, Doreen.(1985). The Wanganeen Family Genealogy. Adelaide: The Aboriginal Research Centre in the University of Adelaide.
  • Kartinyeri, Doreen.(1989). The Kartinyeri Family Genealogy. Volumes 1-2. Adelaide: South Australian Museum.
  • Kartinyeri, Doreen.(1990) The Wilson Family Genealogies. Volumes 1-3. Adelaide: South Australian Museum.
  • Kartinyeri, Doreen.(1996).Ngarrindjeri Anzacs. Raukkan: South Australian Museum and Raukkan Council.
  • Kartinyeri, Doreen.(2006). Ngarrindjeri Nation: Genealogies of Ngarrindjeri families. Adelaide: Wakefield Press.
  • Kenny, Chris. (1996). Women’s Business. Potts Point, NSW: Duffy and Snellgrove.
  • Mathews, Jane. (1996). Commonwealth Hindmarsh Island Report pursuant to section 10 (4) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984. Canberra: Australian Government Printer.
  • Mattingley, Christobel and Ken Hampton (Eds.) (1988). Survival in our own Land: Aboriginal experiences in South Australia since 1836, told by Nungas and others. Adelaide: Wakefield Press.
  • Mead, Greg. (1995). A Royal Omission. South Australia: The Author.
  • Muecke, Stephen and Adam Shoemaker. (Eds.) (2001). Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines, David Unaipon. Melbourne University Press at the Miegunyah Press.
  • Saunders, Cheryl. (1994). Report to the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs on the significant Aboriginal area in the vicinity of Goolwa and Hindmarsh (Kumarangk) Island. Adelaide: South Australian Government Printer.
  • Simons, Margaret. (2003). The Meeting of the Waters: The Hindmarsh Island Affair. Sydney: Hodder.
  • Smith, W. Ramsay. (1930). Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals. London: Harrap.
  • Stevens, Iris. (1995). Report of the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Royal Commission. Adelaide: South Australian Government Printer.
  • Sturt, Charles. (1833). Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia. Two volumes. London: Smith, Elder and Co.
  • Taplin, George. (1873). The Narrinyeri. Reprinted in J.D.Woods (Ed.), The Native Tribes of South Australia (pp. 1–156). Adelaide: E.S. Wigg & Son.
  • Tindale, Norman B. (1931-4). Journal of Researches in the South East of South Australia, 1. Adelaide: Anthropology Archives. South Australian Museum.
  • Trevorrow, Tom, Christine Finnimore, Steven Hemming, George Trevorrow, Matt Rigney, Veronica Brodie and Ellen Trevorrow. (2007). They took our land and then our children. Meningie: Ngarrindjeri Lands and Progress Association.
  • Unaipon, David. (1924-5). Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines. Ms copy (MLA 1929 Cyreel 1134). Sydney: Mitchell Library.
  • von Doussa, John (2001). Reasons for Decision. Thomas Lincoln Chapman and Ors v Luminis Pty Ltd, 088 127 085 and ors, Federal Court of Australian, No. SG 33 OF 1997.