Goolwa is that town in Australia that is based at the mouth of the River Murray. Goolwa is one of those few towns, certainly in Australia that has both fresh and seawater recreation opportunity. Goolwa is a nice town and an overnight at a minimum is required to get the best out of the place. Over a weekend will ensure a mix of ‘the markets’ atmosphere.
Before 1837 the area was briefly considered for the site of the colony's capital; a 'special survey' was undertaken in 1839–40 with a sizeable township laid out at Currency Creek and land for a port with substantial warehousing on the river where Goolwa now stands; however, the treacherous waters of the Murray Mouth for shipping made it unsuitable as a major port. Goolwa was Australia's first inland port (1853). Australia's first railway was built to connect Goolwa to Port Elliot and later extended to Victor Harbor, allowing goods to move from river boats to sea boats, so that neither had to negotiate the Murray Mouth. Goolwa is increasingly becoming a popular destination for holidaymakers from Adelaide.
In 1935 a permanent barrage (called the Goolwa Barrage) was constructed between Hindmarsh Island and Sir Richard Peninsula on the south eastern outskirts of Goolwa. The barrage separates the fresh water of the River Murray from the salt water coming up from the River Murray mouth. The barrage was constructed to prevent the salt water traversing further up the River Murray and polluting much needed fresh water.