At a little less than 100 kilometres from Adelaide, the town of Mannum is a perfect spot to have a river holiday in South Australia. You get a feel for the history of the town soon after rounding the bend and coasting down the main street.
The Riverside Caravan Park is in the Top Parks chain and is extremely clean and well kept. The amenities are spotless (although they do have that pain of a system where you have to key in a number that is too long, using buttons where the numbers are all but rubbed off!) BUT that aside, you will also find a kids playground, BBQs and a very impressive camp kitchen, complete with wood fire for comfort during the cold winter months.
As you would expect being on the banks of the Murray the birdlife is prolific and when you’re fishing especially, you can expect a visit from ducks, water hen and pelicans. If they are lucky (or you are unlucky) they may get a free feed of carp.
We were very much surprised this trip to catch apart from the standard size carp, one mega carp which still had to become bird food as you can neither eat them (they taste muddy and disgusting) nor return them to the river as they are a feral pest.
While you are relaxing and fishing from the bank a mere half a dozen steps from your van you can watch the two busy car ferries working away 24 hours a day moving traffic over the river. At night in the caravan park you are able to have a small campfire in a contained receptacle and the park even sells bags of wood if you don’t want to cart your own.
So even at night you have something to watch while you sit around the fire. It’s quite amazing to watch the variety of vehicles that use the ferry sometimes, this trip carried a caravan, semi-trailer and motorbikes.
I wrote an article about Mannum for On The Road magazine which spoke a little about the history of the town but when you take a walk along the main street the historic buildings are very noticeable and one great feature they have are plaques attached to them explaining their history. Plaques on the buildings that now house modern shops, proclaim what they originally were. A lot have been preserved and some look better than ever. A few pieces of street art adorn some of the sides of buildings and blank walls too.
There are two very popular watering holes (hotels) in town, both easy to walk to from the caravan park and both with ways to lure customers in. A little bit of country humour works well .
The Pretoria Hotel has the enviable position of being on the river and they have made the most of their position with outdoor dining and a beer garden with a huge inviting open fire to huddle around. The food was amazing too and the wine list extensive. A lot of weekend nights they have entertainment too.
We timed our weekend away to coincide with the Mannum riverside market which happens on the first Sunday of every month and rain, hail or shine you’ll find stall holders with nice, quality products on offer. The markets are in the perfect spot next to the ferries, where you can browse then grab a good hot coffee, bacon and egg roll or steak sandwich and watch the river traffic go by.
If you are travelling through South Australia take the time to stop at Mannum, it’s one of the friendliest town on the river with so much to offer visitors.