Wilkadene Brewery: Ron enjoys a beer in the Riverland region of South Australia

On a stretch of the River Murray called Dix's Cutting, just upstream from Renmark stands a piece of river history - the Wilkadene Homestead and woolshed which has recently undergone an intoxicating transformation.

For 100 years the woolshed has been the centre of station life and that's set to continue now that Tom Freeman and his partner Sarah Dowdell have built a micro brewery where you can kick back and try an Amazon Ale.

Out the back you'll find some of the earliest signs of European settlement in the region. Wilkadene Cottage was built in 1859 when this was part of a major pastoral enterprise known as Ned's Corner Station extending across into nearby New South Wales and Victoria. The cottage was a pastoral outpost in outback South Australia where the river often took more than it gave - the Critchell family lost 5 children and a husband in two successive floods.

In later years this river front property saw better days with massive wool clips funding the establishment of a much grander homestead for the Wilkinson Family. Every farmer understands the need to adapt to change and South Australian farmers probably understand that better than most. For young Tom Freeman and his family some tough years and a drop in the wool price prompted a swing away from pastoralism at historic Wilkadene to tourism.

Tom's parents purchased the property in 1988 and for a time they maintained their pastoral interests with son Tom working as a roustabout come shearing time. They also moved into the houseboat industry before Tom put his own stamp on the business with his brewery.

Tom Freeman, Wilkadene Brewery: "We launched our first beer in September last year. It was a project that came from a need to diversify and a willingness to do something a little bit different."

The old Wilkadene brand is very prominent featuring on each bottle of Amazon Ale. Hop on an Above Renmark Houseboat and you can take part of the Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery with you as they'll gladly supply a keg for your journey along the Murray.

On you voyage you might come across Amazon Creek, the tributary after which this little brew is named. The Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery is located about fifteen kilometres north of Renmark. To book a houseboat with Above Renmark Houseboats contact 8595 8188. If you have any further questions please email info@postcards-sa.com.au

Wilkadene Brewery
15 kms north of Renmark
Ph 8595 8188

Published 8th August 2010

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