Have you ever followed a river to where it eventually flows out to the sea? You can do this in South Australia by following the Murray River from anywhere along its winding path to downstream where it spills into the Murray Mouth at Goolwa.
This trip will show you how you can do it in a day with the starting point of Mannum, under 100kms from the city of Adelaide.
Mannum is a pretty popular spot for South Australians to get away to for a day of water sports on the Murray River. Any fine and warm day you’ll find the river crowded with skiers, wake boarders, and jet skis. There are also houseboats meandering up and down the river and bigger paddle steamers like the Murray River Queen and the Proud Mary.
Mannum is a very relaxed and friendly town with lots of shops to wander into and browse in the main street. It has two pubs, interesting antique / second hand stores and plenty more.
If you time it right on the first Sunday of every month they also hold their riverside market near the ferry crossing. Like a lot of markets the variety of goodies on offer can change from month to month but there always seems to be a big variety of stallholders. The markets run from 9am to 2.30pm so my tip would be to get there early, have a browse around then find something tasty to eat while you enjoy watching the river traffic and birdlife in this serene setting. https://www.mannumriversidemarkets.com.au/
Then after a look around Mannum you can jump in the car and in less than an hour and a half taking a scenic route through the town of Murray Bridge, take the Langhorne Creek Road (see my story on the great wineries around here!), head towards Milang then meet up with Alexandrina Road which will take you through Currency Creek and next stop will be Goolwa.
If you head straight towards the river and again if it’s a Sunday you will be just in time for the Goolwa Wharf Markets. (https://www.facebook.com/GoolwaWharfMarkets/) These markets are held every first and third Sunday year round and go from 9am to 3pm.
The markets are held close to the wharf which is a real hub of things to see and do. There is the Fleurieu Distillery for whiskeys and a must try gin. Then there is the Wharf Barrel Shed (https://www.wharfbarrelshed.com/ ) which has live music every Friday night and Sunday afternoon and is well worth spending time at for that alone but with the added view of every kind of boat imaginable on the busy river and the soaring bridge that links to Hindmarsh Island.
After the wharf area you can drive, following the river as it keeps heading towards the sea, past the Goolwa Regatta Yacht Club and the Goolwa Aquatic Club, (https://www.goolwaaquaticclub.com/) which is a great spot to have a very good meal while overlooking the water, then continue on the Barrage Road to the Goolwa barrages. The main purpose of these barrages is to keep the freshness of the River Murray for towns further downstream and the lower lakes areas. They help to prevent the ingress of salt water from the sea at times of low river.
After seeing the barrages head to Goolwa Beach where you can swim, surf, play on the sand or in the water, pick yourself up some cockles (see my story on Goolwa cockling), or better still take a drive onto the beach and head all the way down to the Murray Mouth and see this spectacular sight for yourself. You have to take note of any signs before heading onto the beach to check that the ‘road’ to the mouth is passable but if you can I would say to everyone that it is well worth the drive. It’s only around 10kms of mostly flat and easy sand driving, but you may need to let more air out of the tyres the closer you get to the mouth.
Don’t forget to pack in the fishing rods, there is great fishing at the mouth and pretty much anywhere along the beach.
There is so much to see and do on this road trip so why hurry if you don’t have too? You’ll find caravan parks at Mannum, Milang, Goolwa and just a little further on at Middleton and my favourite for the Fleurieu Peninsula, Port Elliot.
Cheers and enjoy the ride.