Milang is located on the bank of the western side of Lake Alexandrina. 20km from Strathalbyn.
The word Milang is derived from an aboriginal word for ‘place of the millin’ or the place of sorcery or magic. The greater Milang area is located within the Ngarrindjeri tribal lands.
Lake Alexandrina was named by Captain Charles Sturt in 1830 after Princess Alexandrina who later became Queen Victoria.
The site of the town was surveyed in 1853 as a response to the increase in port activity and the ease of transportation overland to Adelaide. With the area at the end of the road from Strathalbyn chosen as the site for the town of Milang. The first allotments of land were sold in July 1854.
From 1860 -1880 Milang was one of the busiest river ports in South Australia and connected Adelaide to the thriving river trade that was connecting to the three Eastern colonies.
The jetty was built in 1856 and was 67 meters long. Due to increases in trade as the area developed, combined with the shallowness of the water the jetty length was in creased in 1859. Again 10 years latter in 1869 the length was increased further to a total of 217 meters. Trams were used to transport the freight to Daranda Tce once unloaded using the hand crane that was erected on the jetty during one of the jetty length increases. A section of the jetty washed away in the floods of 1956 leaving the jetty as it is today. Both the jetty and the hand crane are heritage listed.
The Port of Milang declined in importance after the establishment of the Morgan railway in 1878 which took most of the river trade from the Upper Murray. The rail link to Milang opened in 1884 for freight and as a light passanger service joining the main line at Sandergrove.
The period from 1857 – 1900 saw a large number of boats built at Milang. The most famous of these is the 3 masted schooner the Punkeri – a rebuild of the 2 masted schooner Wankarey. The Ada and Clara which was an 18-meter-long 3 masted schooner built in 1891 after the sinking of the Punkeri. The Ada and Clara was in service until she was abandoned in Goolwa in 1962. The Agnostic was a wooden Cutter built in 1897. This period saw no less than 8 paddle steamers, 5 barges and an assortment of other vessels built here.
Milang also has a strong rail history with the current museum was opened in 1992 in the original railway station building. Locomotive 351 is one of the attractions as with some carriages that have been restored.