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35°79' S, 137°75' E

American River is a small town tucked into native bush overlooking Eastern Cove and Pelican Lagoon. The hustle and bustle and the crowds that you may be used to are missing but at night the town comes alive with wallabies and possums.

In the daytime the birdlife is prolific and in season many species of wildflowers can be seen. Sheltered coastal waters offer wonderful opportunities for fishing and nearby deserted beaches, great walking and swimming.Tammar Wallaby

The town offers a wide range of quality accommodation from camping through to units, cottages and deluxe motel rooms. Excellent restaurants serve both a la carte and counter meals. Takeaway meals are also available. American River also offers fishing cruises, dinghy hire, boat launching, scenic tours and shopping, making it the ideal, central location for those seeking peace and quiet amongst nature.

Matthew Flinders visited the area in 1802 and named many features including Prospect Hill, Pelican Lagoon, Eastern Cove and Kangaroo Head where his crew were able to obtain their first supplies of fresh meat in months. Sealers and whalers arrived within months of this first visit, many of whom were escaped convicts, runaways etc. They used the island as a base for trading skins and salt. Piracy was common.

American River gained its name from American sealers, some of whom built a trading schooner (from native timber) in 1804 at Independence Point on Pelican Lagoon. This was the beginning of the area's shipbuilding history which was continued on by John Buick and Frank Potts in 1842. They were also the first to have farmed the area and their descendants still reside in the district.Along the foreshore

The sealing trade brought a need for salt for preserving skins. The salt lakes in the area provided the best available salt and an industry which employed hundreds, resulting in a settlement, port and the Island's only railway at Muston on Pelican Lagoon. Gypsum from these lakes was exported from Ballast Head until 1992.

In the 1860's rabbits were introduced to the area. Luckily they did not survive and it is thought that goannas ate the young.

The tourist industry on the Island has its roots at American River. Nils Ryberg set up a guesthouse in the late 1890's. Also established in the late 1890's was a fish canning factory, situated north of American River along the Scenic Walk.

Excellent fishing has always been available at American River. Catches of over 70 dozen whiting in a day have been recorded. A local vessel the 'Stella' was the first vessel in South Australia to use craypots and so the birth of the cray fishing industry in South Australia began at American River in 1899. Gold and guano mining, timber exporting, yacca gum collecting and eucalyptus oil distilling were other industries carried out in the area.Pelicans at the wharf

The Sealers, Saltscratchers and Shipbuilders Heritage Trail is a series of five interpretive signs located at the wharf, adjacent CFS Shed, Scenic Walkway, Muston Hill Lookout and Old Muston Jetty; relating some of the early history of 'The River.'

A pleasant afternoon or morning can be spent ambling along the 'Scenic Walk.' The track begins at the northern end of the town and is clearly marked. It is approximately a one and a half hour walk to the site of the old fish canning factory. (Ruins are still visible.) For those more adventurous it is possible to continue walking to Ballast Head.

Birdlife is prolific along the 'Walk.' Swans and Pelicans can be sighted offshore, while Robins and Blue Wrens inhabit the scrub area above the water line. Penguins live in the rocks near Ballast Head and an Osprey nests each year at Ballast Head. A pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles can often be seen soaring above the gully close to the old fish cannery. A flock of rare Glossy (Red-tailed) Black Cockatoos feed in American River and have a flight path from Ballast Head to the township. They feast on the Casuarina trees, prolific in the area and along the 'Scenic Walk.' There are many other birds including Galahs, Parrots, Finches, Ibis, Spoonbills, Cormorants, Herons, Oyster Catchers, Gulls and Sea Eagles both in the township and along the 'Walk.'

Part of the Cannery WalkFrom July onwards the wildflowers, including Orchids, begin flowering along the 'Scenic Walk.' (Please remember it is against the law to pick any wildflowers.) Many species are seen in the township itself and the Freesia with its delightful scent abounds from late July.

For the less adventurous it is well worth walking the length of the township's coast. Ducks, Swans and Pelicans abound and inquisitive Pelicans will often fly across to investigate what you are doing.

The wharf and boat ramp areas are pleasant places to stroll. Here you can watch the fishermen (amateur) bring in their catches, read the heritage sign or chat with the hopefuls as they fish from the wharf. Then continue to meander throughout the Remembrance Reserve.

There are few towns in Australia that can boast Wallabies on their roads. Wait until after dark and take a quiet stroll past the American River Hall and Post Office. Wallabies abound in this area, especially in summer when feed is scarce in the surrounding paddocks. (Remember they come down to this area by choice and do not need hand feeding.)

American River Townmap
1 À bientôt Seayu Lodge 7 Island Coastal Units
2 Calico Cottage 8 Matthew Flinders Terraces
3 Casuarina Coastal Units 9 River Gallery
4 Cooinda Holiday Village 10 The Shed
5 Crafty Fisherman 11 Ulonga Lodge
6 General Store 12 Wanderers Rest
Related pages:

Tour Operators

4X4 (1)

Station Wagon (1)


General Stores (1)

Fuel Outlets (1)

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