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Until the 1970s: an idyllic but temperamental stream

Did you know the Sturt River flooded on average once a year?

This information is part of Stories of the Sturt River, an interpretive trail where you can listen to the history of the Sturt River at six state-of-the-art signs along a 3km stretch of the Sturt River Linear Park walking and cycling trail from Warriparinga to Oaklands Reserve.

Until the 1970s - an idyllic but temperamental stream

The Sturt River floods, which for many years had been a blessing for the market gardeners of Marion, were rapidly becoming an annoyance to the residents of the new housing development in the area. The river’s use as an irrigation source had quickly disappeared.

The flooding had to be fixed

In the Marion area, the Sturt River flooded on average once a year. The agricultural land where the Sturt River had previously flooded and watered the market gardens was now covered with houses.

By the early 1960s flooding had become a constant problem. There was an immediate cry to fix it.  In the determination to control the floods, the South Western Drainage Scheme began in 1960 and completed in 1971.

The Sturt was a roaring torrent

“It wasn’t just a trickling. It was a roaring torrent in the winter. There were a few people who fell in it before it was concreted. Quite a few people drowned in the Sturt … which most people don’t know.”


After the drainage scheme

“It was done and everybody was happy. It was recognized as being something really worthwhile. All the Engineering students for next several years went on bus tours to see what had been done.” - LOCAL RESIDENT, ELAINE BEALES

Consistent with the era, the construction of the Sturt River drain gave little consideration to Aboriginal interests or environmental impacts.

Today and beyond

The Warriparinga and Oaklands Wetlands are both former sites of large vineyards and orchards dating from the 1840s to the 1950s. The wetlands harvest recycled water from the Sturt River to improve the water quality of the system and to irrigate over 30 parks and reserves.

Did You Know? The wetlands nourish and support a myriad of bird and plant life and help create an environment that reflects the history of the Sturt  River.

Stories of the Sturt River video

You can listen to all this on a video on YouTube:

History and Cultural Heritage

The City of Marion recognises the importance of preserving our cultural heritage, valuing the past and planning for the future.

Our cultural heritage is precious and irreplaceable. It includes stories, memories, events and traditions as well as landscapes and places, buildings and objects that have significance to our local community.