Barmera was established as a soldier settlement and fruit growing area after World War 1. The town is situated on the gently sloping shores of Lake Bonney, which was named by overlander Joseph Hawdon (Hawdon Street is now named after him) after his travelling companion Charles Bonney in 1838. The name Barmera came from the Aboriginal word Barmeedjie meaning Lake.
The Cobdogla District Council, (as the District Council of Barmera was originally known) came into existence and was gazetted as a Council area on 17 June 1924, with an area of 23,338 acres. Several years later a proposal was put that the Council's name be altered, and after many years of opposition by the Cobdogla Councillors, a referendum by ratepayers was held, the result being 114 to 59 in favour of the change, however the Minister of Local Government refused to allow the name change. It was not until 16 June 1937 that the District Council of Cobdogla was proclaimed the District Council of Barmera.
The first meeting of the Council was held (at Barmera) in a cubicle (used as a shop) on 24th January 1924. Mr C. Bruce was elected the first Chairman, and it was decided to ask the Irrigation Commission "to erect a cubicle on the Town Hall site at Barmera for use as a Council Office".
Council originally comprised five Wards - Barmera Town Ward had one Councillor; Nookamka Ward, two Councillors; Loveday Ward, one Councillor, Cobdogla Town Ward, one Councillor and Cobdogla Flat Ward, one Councillor.
At the third meeting of Council a part time Clerk and an Overseer were appointed and from then onwards, "things began to move". A petrol gas lamp, for meetings, was purchased from the Chairman, a dray acquired, £28-16-9 paid for the Council cubicle and its' furnishings, and campaigns begun against flooding roads, not having lights on buggies, and driving on the wrong side of the road.
There were 345 assessments made in the first year, valued at £10,265 ($20,530), producing £685 ($1,370) in rates. Property value had risen to £88, 837 ($177,674) in 1927, and rates to £1,251 ($2,502).
The 1930's brought plenty of worry, including the provision of relief work and the control of vagrants. Some of the ratepayers were unhappy too, and in April "the Chairman intimated that a petition was in circulation asking that this District be attached to the Berri area".