Hindmarsh Island

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Hindmarsh Island
Native name: Narinyeri
Hindmarsh Island is located in South Australia
Hindmarsh Island
Location South Australia
Area 45.5 km2 (17.6 sq mi)
Length 14.7 km (9.13 mi)
Width 6.5 km (4.04 mi)
Coastline 43.7 km (27.15 mi)
Highest elevation 25 m (82 ft)
Population 1233

Hindmarsh Island (Aboriginal: Narinyeri) 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. Hindmarsh Island is 100.1 kilometres south east of the Adelaide metropolitan area, around a 1 hour and 30 minute drive.


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

1830: The first European to set foot on Hindmarsh Island was Captain Charles Sturt. Sturt used the Island as a viewing point and from there he sighted the Murray Mouth.

1831: Captain Collet Barker surveyed the Murray Mouth but was killed by Indigenous Australians after swimming across the mouth.

Captain Charles Sturt, first European to set foot on Hindmarsh Island

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

1849: Dr. John Rankine was granted an occupational licence to become the island's first grazier. His nephew James Rankine was an early and longtime settler.

1853: Charles Price purchased section 20 (80 acres)on the island.

1856: A flour mill was constructed.

1857: A signal mast was erected at Barker Knoll to convey safe passage condition messages to vessels wishing to pass through the mouth.

1858: A public ferry began operations between Goolwa and the island. In the same year the first inter colonial telegraph line passed through the island to link Adelaide with Melbourne.

1861: The cemetery was surveyed.

1900: A cheese factory was built.

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

1914: An experimental barrage was constructed to link Hindmarsh Island with Mundoo Island.

1935: Construction of the permanent barrages took place 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.

1965: Mains electricity arrived on the island

1970: Little penguins were present on Hindmarsh Island. Today, the colony is extinct. [1]

1977: Alberto Forest was planted

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.

2001: Approximately a third of the island, the 10.81 km² Wyndgate property, was added to the Coorong National Park.

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

Present: 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.

The Hindmarsh Island Bridge[edit]

Length: 319 meters

Height: 19 meters

Width: 11 meters

Clearance Height: 14 meters

Building Company: Built Environs

Construction Commenced: October 1999 Construction Finished: March 2001

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).


Area: 45.5 km²

Coastline: 43.7 km (not including marina)

Highest Elevation: 25 meters (35°30'30.28"S 138°49'21.83"E)

Salt Lakes Total: 49

Terrain: grassland, wooded forest, salt lakes and mangroves

Islands surrounding Hindmarsh Island[edit]

Mundoo Island (35°33'4.35"S 138°55'0.86"E) is a medium sized island off the west coast of the island. Mundoo Island is a privately owned cattle station, and has a population of 23, and it is accessible though a road that goes over the River Murray. The road acts also as a barrage to prevent the river water flowing though Murray Mouth into the ocean. Mundoo Island is manly inhabited by farmers, that live of the land. Mundoo Island was named after one of the crew members last name, during the voyage of Charles Stuart in 1830.

Area: 13.4 km²

Perimeter: 27.3 km

Distance from Hindmarsh Island: 103 m

Rat Island/Grindstone Island (35°31'12.59"S 138°57'34.83"E) is a small private owned island 320 meters off the westernmost point of the island. It covers 32 acres of land.

Area: 29 Acres

Perimeter: 1.8 km

Distance from Hindmarsh Island: 344 m

Varcoe Island (35°32'30.29"S 138°54'8.55"E) is an extremely small island, with a population of 0.

Area: 913 m²

Perimeter: 117 m

Distance from Hindmarsh Island: 380 m

Bird Island/Gull Island (35°33'13.44"S 138°53'42.28"E) is small-sized island which has a population of 0, it's 100 meters off the southernmost point of the island.

Area: 113 Acres

Perimeter: 2.7 km

Distance from Hindmarsh Island: 97 m

Goose Island (35°30'3.98"S 138°56'9.47"E) is a small private island 420 meters off the north western area of the island. It has a population of 2, and very close to the coastline of Clayton Bay. Right next to Goose Island is Goat Island, which are 240 meters apart. Goose island doesn't have very much vegetation or greenery.

Area: 71 Acres

Perimeter: 2.5 km

Distance from Hindmarsh Island: 413 m

Goat Island (35°30'17.14"S 138°56'35.78"E) is a small private island 340 meters off the north western area of the island. Goat island has a population of 1, making it the smallest island by population in the Fleurieu Peninsula. Goat island has more vegetation on it than Goose Island, because the ground is more damp and moist.

Area: 100 Acres

Perimeter: 3.3 km

Distance from Hindmarsh Island: 296 m

Limestone Island/Goose Island (35°29'30.29"S 138°49'56.99"E) is a small island, which is located in the Game Reserve. It is located 970 meters off the northern coast line of the island. It has a population of 0, and it was named Limestone Island because there is limestone rock formations on the island. The island is rarely set foot on by humans, and it has been known to flood in the middle of winter, making the island fully submerged in water. Limestone Island can be viewed very easily from Goolwa north because it is only 700 meters away.

Area: 37 Acres

Perimeter: 1755 m

Distance from Hindmarsh Island: 961 m

Pelican Island (35°28'48.79"S 138°50'13.35"E) is an extremely small island, this island only exsits in summer/spirng when the water level is lower. This island is used buy pelican's as a resting place for long flights.

Area: 61 m²

Perimeter: 31.2 m

Distance from Hindmarsh Island: 2.4 km

Seagull Island (35°28'44.96"S 138°50'17.52"E) is the smallest island in South Australia. Like Pelican Island, Seagull island only exists in the summer and spring. Seagull Island is used for small birds like sea gulls to catch small tadpoles and critters in the low depth water surrounding them. The island is 2.3 kilometres away from Hindmarsh Islands coastline.

Area: 13.8 m²

Perimeter: 15.6 m

Distance from Hindmarsh Island: 2.3 km


Highest Temperature: 45.1 Degrees (28 January 2009)

Lowest Temperature: -0.1 Degrees (24 July 2008)

Maximum Rainfall Record: 65 millimetres (June, 2010)

Minimum Rainfall Record: 17 millimetres (February, 2009)

Wind Speed Record: 92 km/h

Hindmarsh Island Locations[edit]

Hindmarsh Island Caravan Park[edit]

Hindmarsh Island Caravan Park ( 35°30'13.17"S 138°48'53.30"E) is located on the northern side of Hindmarsh Island, on an of natural land. The land consists of camping grounds, forests, grasslands. It was developed in the late 1970s and opened in the early 1980s.

Area: 22.2 acres

Perimeter: 1.29 km

Hindmarsh Island Monument[edit]

Hindmarsh Island Monument ( 35°30'38.59"S 138°49'45.71"E) is a monument statue dedicated to Sturt and Barker on the island, it was erected in 1930.

Height: 3.4 meters

Area: 302 m²

Perimeter: 83.6 meters

Hindmarsh Island Airport[edit]

The Hindmarsh Island Airport ( 35°30'19.92"S 138°51'2.48"E) was developed in the 2008, for emergency aircraft landings like the Doctor Service and the Private Cessna's, the runway is hardened dirt.

Length: 500 meters

Width: 12 meters

Hindmarsh Island Lookout/Down Hill Track[edit]

The Hindmarsh Island Lookout (35°30'32.04"S 138°47'33.07"E) was developed in the late 1990s for a viewing point to Goolwa for the Public. It has also been used as a downhill track for mountain bike users. It was built on a hill, 10 meters about sea level.

Area: 1.9 acres

Perimeter: 430 m

Lonely Island[edit]

Lonely Island (35°30'58.98"S 138°51'49.13"E) is the only island (Lonely Island) within an island (Hindmarsh Island) within an island (Australia) in the southern hemisphere. It is located the centre of a dried up salt lake, that does become full of water in winter.

Area: 1.21 acres

Perimeter: 265 m

Hindmarsh Island Weather Receiver[edit]

Hindmarsh Island Weather Receiver

Hindmarsh Island Weather Receiver (35°31'10.20"S 138°49'4.17"E) is a weather receiver located next to the Hindmarsh Island Marina. It is out of bounds to the general public, and surrounded by a steel fence. The weather receiver was built in 2006.

Area: 57 m²

Perimeter: 26 m

Height: 7 m

Hindmarsh Island River Murray Mouth Lookout[edit]

Hindmarsh Island River Murray Mouth Lookout (35°32'58.23"S 138°52'58.03"E) is a lookout on the south-west area of the Island. It shows the Murray Mouth where the river meets the ocean.

Area: 181 m²

Perimeter: 58 m

Lake Cloud[edit]

Lake Cloud (35°31'12.51"S 138°56'11.54"E) is the largest salt lake on the Fleurieu Peninsula. It is located on the western part of the Island.

Area: 19 acres

Length: 410 m

Lowest Point: -2 m (below sea level)

Narnu Farm[edit]

Narnu Farm (35°30'18.17"S 138°49'50.40"E) is a family friendly holiday destination & tourist attraction located on Hindmarsh Island, the farm full of animals & an accommodation experience.

Karinga Park Homestead[edit]

Karinga Park Homestead (35°30'14.40"S 138°49'10.56"E) is a homestead, that offers accommodation and a getaway experience. It covers 20 acres of land, and which a majority of that space is a part of Alberto Forest.

Telstra Telephone Tower[edit]

Hindmarsh Island Telephone Tower

The Telstra Telephone Tower (35°30'32.10"S,138°49'0.57"E) is an active Telstra Telephone Signal Tower that gives phone Telstra coverage for the population on Hindmarsh Island. The telephone tower is located in Alberto Forest, it 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.

Constructed: 2006

Height: 42 m

ASL: 65 m

Company: Telstra

Site Type: 3G 850

Hertz: 850Mhz

Hindmarsh Island Mangroves[edit]

Hindmarsh Island Mangroves (35°32'9.81"S 138°53'17.17"E) is Hindmarsh Island's only Mangrove, it has an area of 7.5 Hectares and has a perimeter of 943 m.

Hindmarsh Island Boat Ramps[edit]

Captain Stuart Parade Boat Ramp: 35°30'6.76"S 138°48'50.37"E

Valmai Tce Boat Ramp: 35°30'9.15"S 138°49'53.25"E

Randell Road Boat Ramp: 35°30'16.58"S 138°47'19.59"E

Monument Road Boat Ramp: 35°30'7.19"S 138°49'45.20"E

Marina Boat Ramp: 35°30'48.79"S 138°48'4.40"E

Sugars Ave Boat Ramp: 35°32'52.94"S 138°52'36.63"E

Mundoo Channel Drive Boat Ramp: 35°32'33.09"S 138°52'54.11"E

Narinyeri Tribe[edit]

Narinyeri Tribe (35°30'20.71"S 138°48'30.25"E) is the native Aboriginal Tribe of Hindmarsh Island. They are still present at the island, they live on a private property in Alberto Forest.

Clayton Regulator[edit]

Clayton Regulator (35°29'58.47"S 138°55'18.90"E) was a temporary sand water prevention barrage, that was constructed in 2008 during the drought to prevent water flowing out of the Murray River. It was de-constructed in late 2010.

Hindmarsh Island Forests[edit]

The forests located on the island covers up to 11%. Forests are spread out over different parts of the Island. On the west side of the Island there is a West Forest (Alberto Forest)and on the east side of the Island there East Forest (Selberto Forest).

Alberto Forest[edit]

Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis)

Alberto Forest (35°30'28.32"S, 138°48'59.26"E) is located on the west side of the Island, the northern part of Alberto 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 Alberto Forest. Other parts of the Alberto Forest collide with peoples properties. Same parts of the forest are used for timber and some of it is private land. The Alberto consists of Aleppo pines, which were planted in the 1880s, it has trees ranging from 15m - 25m tall. It's main purpose was to prevent erosion of the sand dune areas.

Perimeter: 6.89 km

Area: 1.48 km²

Selberto Forest[edit]

Selberto 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 1880s to provide sound and wind protection for the residents and also prevent erosion. The trees in Selberto Forest consist of Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis). The Selberto Forest trees range from 15m - 30m tall.

Perimeter: 10.1 km

Area: 5.2 km²


List of animals that live on Hindmarsh Island

Blue tongue lizards

The blue tongue lizard (Tiliqua adelaidens) is a large lizard with a blue tongue. 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 or between rocks.

Australian white ibis

The Australian white ibis (Threskiornis moluccus), is a white bird with a black beak. This species is widespread across much of Island. However it is very common along the coastline and 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.

Purple swamphen

The purple swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) is a native bird to Australia. It has a blue, green and purple body with red beak. These birds are commonly found along the coast of the island near reeds and ponds.

European rabbits

The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a European rabbit that was introduced to the island in the 1950s. They can vary in colour, sometimes gray, white or even black. They can blend into there surroundings very well, they are mostly found in the forest. They are very shy animals and tend to sprint away when approached by a human.

Red bellied black snake

The red-bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) is a black snake with a distinctive red belly. It widely distributed on the Island. Its venom is capable of causing significant pain and numbness. The snake is hibernating in winter and is found in the forest and grasslands only in summer.

Australian magpies

The Australian magpie (Cracticus tibicen) is a medium sized black and white bird native to Australia. It is found all over the Island, making it the most common bird viewed on Hindmarsh Island.

Australian masked owl

The Australian masked owl (Tyto novaehollandiae) is an owl that is only found around the coastline of Australia. It makes a distinctive sound, when it is positioned in a high tree mostly during the night. The trees on Hindmarsh Island are a popular place for the bird to go because it loves hollowed out trees to live in.

Australian masked owl (Tyto novaehollandiae)
Wagyu bulls in Alberto Forest, 2013

The bull was introduced to Hindmarsh Island in the 1960s. Some of the bulls were brought in to forests and into farm areas (like Mundoo Island). 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. Bulls are widespreed across the island.

Little penguins

The little penguin (Eudyptula minor) is the smallest species of penguin. The penguins used to be found along the south coast of the Island, until the 1970s when people where inhabiting the island, the penguins struggled for survival and eventually became extinct in the late 1970s.


  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.