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History of Swan Reach, Murraylands, South Australia

Prior to European settlement, it is estimated that there were 1,200 Ngalawang tribal members in the Swan Reach area.

Swan Reach gained its name from the large number of black swans that once thrived in the area.

The natural break in the cliffs made for an ideal crossing for travellers and stock, prior to the arrival of the Ferry. Before the lock and weir system was installed it was possible, during the drought years, to walk from one side of the river to the other.

The land surrounding Swan Reach was once open plains of native speargrass and Mallee trees, of which large areas were cleared for crops were established in the area, such as stone fruits, oranges, grapes, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, garlic, almonds and Geraldton Wax flowers (for the cut flower trade).

In the early 1850s, Thomas Luscombe was leasing 182 square miles (293 kilometres) along the Murray River, which was known as the Swan Reach Run where 23,000 sheep grazed.

The land was eventually broken up into smaller holdings and in 1896, Paul Hasse purchased 520 acres including the Swan Reach homestead. Then in 1899 a survey was conducted, dividing a portion of his land into 46 town allotments which was approved in 1900, with the homestead later becoming the Swan Reach Hotel.

History of the Swan Reach Hotel

The Swan Reach Hotel is unique in hotel standards as it was not purpose built, but was formed around the original Swan Reach Station homestead built circa 1865.

From 1861 the original Swan Reach Station consisted of a few huts, workmen and shearers' quarters, sheds and ramps. One can still see the remains of some of these buildings located in the beer garden. On the other 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 which included the Homestead. His wife, Emma, applied for and was granded a licence on the 12th September, 1899. Emma died the following year and Paul continued to run the hotel until 1909.

There have been several major additions to the Swan Reach 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 the block form of the hotel with its rendered finish. The superb dining room was added in 1996 the original L shapped structure is still apparent.

A well compiled photographic and edited history of the hotel is on display throughout the hotel and visitors are welcome to come in and browse. The hotel's dining room and shaded beer garden offer unsurpassed views of the Murray River and wildlife where one can relax and enjoy a meal or just sit and enjoy the atmosphere.

More history regarding Swan Reach can be obtained from the Swan Reach Museum.

Information from Swan Reach Progress Association & Mid-Murraylands Local History Group.


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