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Barmera Bound

Updated: Sep 4, 2020



A total of 24 SACC members headed up to the Riverland on the Friday all driving via Karoonda and Loxton during the day arriving at various accommodation motels and caravan parks in Barmera and Berri to unpack for the 3 or 4 days over the June long-weekend.

The weather was pleasant, after rain the day before; we saw large tracts of ploughed paddocks waiting for more rain to get their crops a good drink, the road to Karoonda is a good one so we made pretty good time in our old cars.

That evening as per our itinerary after a coolish happy hour at our motel we adjourned to the Barmera Club for the first of our combined evening meals.


The Barmera Club is a focal point in the town fronting onto the football oval as well as fronting Lake Bonney on the other, however this weekend the oval had several other uses as well as the football it was a receiving paddock for hundreds of sheep who had been driven down the main streets as a “Running of the Sheep” once in the evening and again the next morning.; there were Sheep dog trials during each day as well and then there was our Kate Knight’s Ballooning Night Glow as well! So a very busy location all weekend.

There was also a music festival happening and then there was our lot!

Due to windy day on the Sunday Kates event was brought forward to the Saturday evening.

Our Club’s meeting place prior to events was in front of the Bakery on the Lake Bonney fore-shore and our drive to Waikerie was a bit late starting – the sheep dog trials are a must; can watch these clever dogs for hours! Anyway a number of our group drove to the Wiakerie and Districts Machinery Preservation Society, the day was perfect and the location beside the Murray was so pleasant.

This group as the name suggests restore all sorts of engines from single cylinder machines to motor vehicles and lots of old tractors brought back to like new. We had a lovely lunch and drinks plus plenty of mandarins being in season now, after this we headed back to Barmera to visit Brian Mason’s place and view his shed full of absolutely immaculate Pontiacs and also several Holden’s and a very nice Vauxhall Velox in the corner of a huge shed. Brian and his wife have built up his collection over many years and he has down sized to what were on display which were still mind-blowingly stunning, well worth the time to see what others have and in Brian’s case V8 Horsepower was the go!

Due to the changes for the Night-Glow our evening meal at the Riverland Vintage and Classic Club had to be brought forward, this was a shame as they had prepared a lovely meal for us and some of our group involved with the night glow had to be available on the Barmera Oval to help Kate, so the numbers were down. Personally I believe that the BBQ’d meal their members provided was one of the best I have ever had, and then we were offered apple crumble n cream and tea n coffee on top of that!

A quick dash back saw to the Barmera Oval where we waited for the balloons to be blown up and for Kate to give the controllers of the four balloons the words: fire them up! And then the spectacle we had all driven to Barmera to witness was seen, and what a show after all the oval floodlights were turned off it was so spectacular, wonderful. Well done Kate and her crew of helpers.


We had arranged two visits on the Sunday, the first was in the township of Loxton down by the river where they have the Loxton historic Village located by the River Murray.

Turn back time!

A visit to this type of village gives us an insight into the tough time settlers had in earlier days and how ingenious they were in making all sorts of implements and instruments to cope with daily life. All of the 40 or so building gave us an idea for days before the advent of computers and technology. Even if the job took longer there was a way to complete the task. From the Blacksmiths shop to the Railway and the original mud hut life was evident.

After a bit of lunch we headed to Cobdobla some 5kms from Barmera to visit the Cobdobla Steam Museum. This was a special museum where the Humphry Pump is located and where many had seen it in action but not at the moment as the powers that be have stopped the volunteers from allowing it to be started due to frustrating decisions that the building is unsafe. I spoke to one of the dedicated men who have spent many days making and replacing parts to ensure it is still operational only to be told that they cant enter the building where it is located. There was a video of the pump working shown by the 93 year old operator who told me that the pump would be better than ever now all the maintenance had been done on it, and it is the only one left in the world. Each of the 4th parts to each full cycle pulls up 300 ton of water and dumps it in irrigation ditches to water the crops.

There were two huge steam powered tractors one of which was allowed to take passengers on a 100 m straight track which was hooked to the second steam tractor which via a steel wire dragged it back.

Also there is a miniature steam train which we took for its run some 5kms there and back into Cobdobla. All of these village’s and Museums are run by dedicated volunteers who do a wonderful job all for nothing, well done!

After this back to our accommodation for a few minutes and then we all met for our final evening meal at the Club.


The Bakery by the Lake was the favorite starting place after packing up the cars and then a group of us started the drive home via Lunching at Swan Reach, across the Murray at Mannum and then back home again.

The two features for me were the Night Glow of the 4 balloons and seeing the video of the Humphry Pump when it was allowed to work, a very pleasant weekend away with a great group of members, now friends, of the Strathalbyn Auto Collectors Club.

U Turn - Mike Greenwood

The Bakery by the Lake was the favourite starting place after packing up the cars and then a group of us started the drive home via Lunching at Swan Reach, across the Murray at Mannum and then back home again.

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