Hindmarsh Island is an island on Fleurieu Peninsula, within the lower part of Murray River near Goolwa, South Australia. Hindmarsh and neighbor Mundoo Island separate Murray River from two freshwater lakes – Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert.
The island is linked to Goolwa by a bridge, opened in 2001. About 300 residents call Hindmarsh Island home.
The island has been predominantly agriculture-based since the mid-nineteenth century when it was first settled by Europeans. At that time, Charles Price purchased a large parcel of land, settling on the island and importing Hereford cattle and Shropshire sheep.
The island is unusual because it has both freshwater and saltwater coasts. The northern shore is fresh water, the southern shore is saltwater, and the two bodies of water have been separated by a series of barrages, or weirs. These barrages were constructed in the late 1930s to maintain consistent water levels in the nearby river port of Goolwa and to enable agricultural development of the island, by reducing the threat of saltwater contamination of fields.
Hindmarsh Island is the perfect vantage point for viewing Australia’s largest river opening into the ocean.
East of Murray Mouth on Hindmarsh Island is the Coorong National Park, and over 1,400 square kilometers around the island was declared a Ramsar protected wetland area. The Coorong Lagoon – a 100km depression between tall sand dunes – is part of the Park. In 2001, the private property Wyndgate (a third of the island’s landmass) was added to the National Park.
Much of the island’s native plant life has been cleared over the generations to make way for agricultural development; however natural regeneration is slowly taking place.
Because of the mix of fresh- and salt-water and the sizeable high-quality aquatic bird habitats, Hindmarsh is home to a wide variety of fish and bird species, making it an ideal place for birdwatchers and fishermen.
Activities (Nature and Wildlife Interest)
The Hindmarsh Island Marina (on the western shore) declares itself to be the largest freshwater marina in the southern hemisphere. This huge Marina provides ample opportunities for water-based activities, in particular sailing.
Bushwalking and camping are also popular on the island. Other activities include eco tours, cruises into Coorong National Park, bare boat and skipped yacht charters, diving and snorkeling (featuring the famous Leafy Seadragon or diving to the area shipwrecks), and golfing.
For a more cultural experience, a State Heritage Place has been erected in the remnants of a riverside complex which peaked during the heyday of steamboats.
Accommodations on Hindmarsh Island include:
- Villa Hindmarsh: The villa overlooks the marina, and a marina berth is available
- Karinga Park Homestead: An 1853 homestead within a peaceful forest and bush area
- Island Retreat: Holiday house that’s perfect for families, accommodating up to 9 people in four bedrooms, and located on the northern shore overlooking the Lower Murray River
- Hindmarsh Haven: Modern four-bedroom and two-bathroom house, opening right onto the water and with its own large private jetty
- Karinga Park Coach House: Stone cottage for two with spa
- Mundoo Channel Holiday Shack: Hardly a shack, this luxurious two-storey house can accommodate eight guests, and has its own private jetty and boat ramp
- Coorong Beach House: 180-degree water view from a house with floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors, and a short stroll from a private beach
Located about 90km south of Adelaide, Goolwa is easily accessible by motorway, and Hindmarsh Island is connected to Goolwa via the Hindmarsh Island Bridge.