Aboriginal occupation by the Tartangan People along the River Murray system dates back more than 30,000 years Remains of the workings of the Tartangan people are found in the cliffs bordering the Pike floodplain, with artifacts dated between 8,000 and 30,000 years. A number of sites of Aboriginal significance have been identified throughout the Pike area. The Pike region was utilized for mining stone tools and there is evidence of old campsites in the region with extensive midden heaps.


European settlement occurred on the Pike floodplain and by 1851 cattle grazing on the Paringa run carried up to 24,000 sheep with extensive frontage to the Pike River. Irrigation development began in 1887 at Renmark with the first irrigation settlement in South Australia. Today irrigation settlements extend on the south bank of the anabranch system from the Gurra Gurra Lakes complex in the south to Paringa in the north. The majority of the irrigated agriculture closely follows the highland cliffs. Irrigation on the floodplain has been removed.. The main crops grown on the Pike highland are wine grapes, citrus, nuts and stone fruit. All crops are irrigated either by drip or under canopy systems with most utilising the latest technology in soil moisture monitoring.

The long history of European and indigenous settlement gives it considerable heritage value as reflected in the ‘Pike River Reflections- From Dreamtime to 2009’ history publication (Nicholls, 2009).


Economic Values

The horticultural value of the Pike area is highlighted by figures which show that the district produced 29% of the Riverland’s stone fruit, 16% of its nuts and almost 10% of its citrus in the 2003/04 season. The annual average Gross Value of Production (GVP) for the Pike Irrigation area was approximately $18m. The economic viability of horticulture is dependent on taking water directly from the Pike River with a current site use approval of 37.3 GL predominantly for irrigation (99% volume) but domestic users are also reliant.