top of page

Interesting Facts about Swan Reach



Swan Reach gained its name from being a favourite nesting place for the wild swans. The water of the reach also approximately forms a bend in the likeness of the curve of the swan’s neck. Evidence that Swan Reach was once covered by the sea, is seen in the fossilized seashells embedded in the cliffs.  A shark’s tooth was discovered in the cliff stone used to build James Brown’s home, Silver Lea, on the Adelaide side of the river.  Many of the buildings in Swan Reach are constructed of cliff stone. A booklet and pamphlet is available from the Swan Reach Museum for a Walk around Swan Reach with numbers and 10,000-Steps around Swan Reach.

Whats in a name? Swan Reach



Edward John Eyre the explorer came across the area around Swan Reach in June 1839 whilst returning from his inland expedition. At one location there was a perfect natural avenue formed by noble gum trees, an ideal site for a house, it also had splendid views of the river. The government granted Eyre land at this location.  In 1842 Eyre moved to Moorunde 19 km north of Swan Reach and was appointed as a protector of Aborigines, Moorunde was garrisoned by a detachment of the 96th Regiment and mounted police.

Edward John Eyre



With barely 30 years’ knowledge of this new country to go on, farmers needed reliable information.  In 1865 George Goyder provided it.  He discouraged farmers from planting crops north of his line, declaring this land suitable only for light grazing.  However farmers were optimistic.  1865 was a year of bumper rains, so many ignored Goyder and headed north, starting farms and planting crops.  Just a few years later many had to abandon their farms.  Goyder was proved correct and the land was indeed unsuitable for crops. Many farmhouse ruins can still be seen near Goyder’s line.
There have been periods of development north of the line, but invariably nature has won out.  Entire towns and farms were abandoned when there was a return to longer-term average rainfall.  The line has proven remarkably accurate, an amazing feat since it was surveyed in just two months in 1865 by Goyder, then the surveyor-general of South Australia.
Goyder’s line starts on the west coast near Ceduna and goes south-east across Eyre Peninsula to strike Spencer Gulf near Arno Bay. It continues from near Moonta north to Crystal Brook and Orroroo then south-east past Peterborough and Burra to the Victorian border near Pinnaroo crossing the Murray River at Swan Reach. Much of the land immediately north of the line is covered by saltbush. Agriculture is possible near the Murray River further upstream only because of irrigation using water drawn from the Murray.
Goyder’s Line became a National Trust of Australia Heritage Icon in 2003.

The Goyder Line

bottom of page