Just a few kilometres upstream from the Riverland capital of Berri, the village of Lyrup is one of the few towns left on the Murray where you can hop a free ride across the mighty waterway on an original river ferry.
Lyrup was one of 12 village settlements established by the South Australian Government in 1894 when 243 settlers were virtually dumped on the river bank to develop a self-contained communal system with the barest of materials and supplies.
Under the revolutionary strategy, settlers were encouraged to work the land and share the profits. Lyrup, whose affairs and 800ha farming and grazing operations are still run by a village association, was the only one of the 12 pilot groups to survive the collapse of Australia’s first socialist experiment.
The town and its 300-strong populations are at the heart of the Murray River National Park which protects a seasonal flood plain that supports large colonies of waterfowl.