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Five Things to See Around Lake Bonney

Home > Adelaide > Escape the City | Free | Lakes | Lists | Outdoor
Published November 15th 2022
Barmera's jewel in the crown
lake bonney hotel ruins
Lake Bonney Hotel ruins


The sparkling freshwater Lake Bonney is Barmera's jewel in the crown. It has proved popular with swimmers, boaters, water skiers, windsurfers and jet skiers over the years. However, for those who are not so aquatically inclined, you can enjoy the lake's perimeter which offers a number of things to see too.

chimney lake bonney ruins
Chimney at site of cottages


A leisurely drive or bike ride along Queen Elizabeth Drive will lead you to the ruins of an old 11-room hotel. Operated by William Napper in the 1860s, Lake Bonney Hotel served as a convenient stopping place for travellers passing through the overland route on the northern side of the lake. The remains of a store hut and its cellar can also be seen nearby. This fine stone building is surprisingly still pretty much intact. As the use of the overland route declined, Napper left the hotel to try his fortune elsewhere. Unfortunately, he was not successful and decided to return to operate the hotel as a boarding house instead. He died in 1907. The ruins are now under the care of the National Trust of South Australia.

napper store cellar ruins
Store with cellar and remains of residence


Nearer town, you'll find an obelisk commemorating the naming of Lake Bonney by overlander Joseph Hawdon who pioneered the River Murray route to Adelaide in 1838. Hawdon, together with his companion Charles Bonney, drove stock from New South Wales and Victoria towards South Australia's new landholdings and meat markets. They camped on the shores of the lake.



Fast forward more than a century, Donald Campbell came to Barmera with his jet-powered hydroplane to set a water speed record on Lake Bonney. He successfully did so on the 23rd of November 1964 setting the Australian Water Speed Record of 216mph. A sculpture of his Bluebird K7 has been erected not far from the obelisk. Look carefully and you might just see it skimming across the water's surface.

sculpture of Bluebird K7
Bluebird K7 sculpture


Further along the foreshore is the ANZAC Commemorative Cross. This red gum cross not only honours the servicemen and servicewomen who had paid the ultimate sacrifice but also signifies the river and its communities. Lest we forget.

ANZAC Commemorative Cross barmera
ANZAC Commemorative Cross


And, of course, there's the Barmera Jetty. Built in 1924, the jetty will very soon be 100 years old and its structure has already surpassed the expected lifespan. Consultation is underway regarding the future of this much-loved icon. A paved walking trail with fitness equipment offers exercise opportunities for all ages. Shelters, BBQs and toilets can also be found on the foreshore.

foreshore lake bonney
Foreshore and jetty

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Why? Barmera's jewel in the crown
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Your Comment
What a record breaker, I like the bluebird photo with the lake in background.
by mytsl (score: 2|133) 18 days ago
A small town but with lots to see.
by Bev (score: 2|153) 18 days ago
Beautiful setting of the commemorative cross against the backdrop of the lake,
by Bev (score: 2|153) 18 days ago
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