American River, South Australia
|Population||216 (2011 census)|
|LGA(s)||Kangaroo Island Council|
|Region||Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island|
|County||County of Carnarvon|
The area now known as American River was first visited by Europeans in 1802 when Matthew Flinders landed to survey this part of Kangaroo Island. In 1803, a group of American sealers camped for four months in the area. They arrived on the brig Union and built their own 35 ton schooner Independence from local timber. The town takes its name from this time. A memorial plaque and accompanying anchor (recovered in 1969) from an early American whaling vessel is dedicated to Union 's crew.
Frank Potts was the first official settler in 1842, before moving to the mainland and establishing the Bleasdale vineyard and winery at Langhorne Creek. John Buick, a professional boat builder, built the first house in the town in 1844. It was fashioned out of local stone, pug and sput timber and remained standing until 1985.
Somewhat erroneously, the waters of Eastern Cove, upon which the township is located, have been referred to as American River, compounding the illusion that the township is connected in any way with a river.
A fish canning factory existed for a few years from the late 1890s, remnants of which may still be found on the shore north of the town proper. Gypsum was mined at Flour Cask Bay, later at Pelican Lagoon and trucked to nearby Ballast Head, from 1956 until 1986.
Until the 1980s the town was serviced regularly by the ketches Falie, Nelcebee (last service 15 April 1982) and Ulonga, operated by R. Fricker & Co. Consequently, on cessation of this service the wharf area for some time was a redundant commercial facility, resulting in the removal of several buildings and fuel facilities. Recently however, the advent of oyster farming has seen new shedding erected and increased activity, in harmony with recreational boating activities.
The population has increased steadily in recent years, while nearby hamlets in the vicinity of Eastern Cove, such as Island Beach and Baudin Beach, South Australia have become more prominent.
Electricity supply to American River was only made permanent in 1967.
The establishment of guest houses at American River in the early part of the 20th century were the forerunner of today's tourism industry on Kangaroo Island. Ryberg, Lierich, and Linnett, are names synonymous with the development of tourism at American River.
Nils Ryberg, a Swedish born immigrant, settled at American River in 1884, and ten years later built the original "Ryberg House" on the site of the present Kangaroo Island Lodge, exclusively for tourist accommodation.
Ryberg added to the building over several years, before selling to John and Valerie Linnett in 1913. Ryberg House was completely rebuilt in 1928, and remains today. Fishing trips were an integral part of the business, with three boats, Warrigal, Linnette and Linnette 2 comprising the fleet which operated until 1985.
The business was operated until John Linnett's death in 1955, after which time his four sons, Keith, Lionel, Leon and Gordon continued under the name of Linnetts Pleasure Resort.
Leon Linnett assumed sole proprietorship in 1971, expanding the resort with the erection of several new wings and refurbishing the reception, administration and restaurant areas in 1980, when the resort became known as Linnetts Island Club.
Leon Linnett sold the property in the late 1990s to an Adelaide-based consortium that trades under the name Kangaroo Island Lodge.
The town supports a Country Fire Service brigade and South Australian Ambulance Service depot. An active sports and community association maintains a focal point for weekly meals and community awareness, whilst an annual fishing competition, normally held at Easter, is popular. There is a small store and post office, providing most postal services (limited banking) on Buick Drive. There is also a small cafe and gift shop located at the wharf which is open from 10.00am to 3.00pm daily.
An extensive wharf with mooring facilities for large commercial fishing boats was completed in 1964. A new, triple berth boat ramp with floating pontoons was completed in July 2008.
In recent years several new land subdivisions have seen increased development within the township, highlighting the need for improved effluent disposal and water supply. A Community Wastewater Management Scheme was implemented in 2009.
Since the withdrawal of services by ketches to American River, there has been no direct freight service.
Air services were operated for a number of years by Emu Airways, utilising a privately owned airstrip located to the north of the township. Air Transport regulations subsequently rendered the airstrip unsuitable for commercial flights. An accommodation venue at nearby Muston publicises access via an alternative, private air strip.
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- "The idyllic waterfront location on the wharf at American River is the setting for the attractive, nautically-themed Deck Cafe". The Islander. 5 April 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
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