The mid north region of South Australia is a destination many travellers head to with the Clare Valley wine region and the historic mining town settlement of Burra being popular places to visit. If you’re looking for a less populated place to stay when visiting the region, then the town of Riverton could be just what you’re after. Riverton’s Caravan Park is small but very popular with those in the know and people who have stayed there before appreciating all it has to offer. It’s a popular park for clubs and groups to book because of it’s one stop facilities and convenience.
The town has a population of around 800 residents and the park is situated between the main highway and the town’s football oval. Unfortunately due to the health restrictions still in place, life is not completely back to normal, but even considering that, there is plenty to see and do in town.
Even though the park sits with the main Barrier Highway leading from Adelaide to Broken Hill on one side, the park is peaceful and comfortable even with freight trucks and road trains frequently passing through the town. You would think that would be a noisy problem but they didn’t bother our sleep and they were interesting to watch as they passed by at night, lit up like Christmas. They gave us something to regularly look at as they passed by while we sat around a campfire.
The park even provides the campfire drums and there’s a supply of wood to use as well, but bringing some of your own dry pieces of wood helps to get a hot fire going without too much smoke. Apart from sites for around 20 or so vans there are onsite cabins to hire too and some unpowered sites that you can use for a cheaper rate. The caretaker of the park was very friendly and helpful and the ablution block was immaculately clean and stayed that way throughout the day and night. The park also has a laundry and large camp kitchen with free BBQs, tables and benches, perfect for use by families or groups of friends. For the kids there is a big playground and the town oval to the edge of the park, to burn off some energy. The park is also dog friendly. Van sites are all nicely grassed and you can drive through if other vans aren’t using all of the sites. There are some big shade trees but the down side is that galahs visit and pick on the gum nuts as the sun sets so a big tip is not to park your car beneath them unless you are prepared to give it a wash the next day.
A bonus of where this park is situated is that you won’t need the car to visit the town itself. It’s an easy walk from the caravan park to a grocery store, hotels, cafes, newsagent, ladies fashion boutique, hardware store and a park with historic buildings set up as museums and other preserved town buildings. There is a golf club directly across the road from the caravan park too. Riverton is home to the Riverton Light Gallery which has a sculpture studio of Robert Hannaford’s work and a gallery space of paintings and drawings by Alison Mitchell. Unfortunately it wasn’t open for us to see this visit but you can find one of Robert Hannaford’s sculptures of an aboriginal woman and child, in the main street. The sculpture represents the Ngadjuri people of this area and their culture. Robert Hannaford has other sculptural work around Adelaide including two iconic pieces, one of early 20th century Australian comedian Roy Rene (Mo) which can be found in Hindley street in the city, and the other being Simpson and his donkey, in the Adelaide Memorial Gardens.
The main street and neighbouring streets of Riverton have a lot of historic buildings harking back to when the town was an important settlement along this once bullock track from Adelaide to the copper mining town of Burra. (More on the history of Riverton will be in the next post). And if you’re looking for a nice picnic spot and walking path away from the busy centre of town, head to the Riverton Duck Ponds, just a short walk from the caravan park.
Riverton Caravan Park is a very comfortable one to visit in winter, especially when you can sit around a campfire every evening with some wine from one of the nearby Clare Valley wineries and a fire drum big enough to hold a camp oven for a hearty meal. We used the campfire for just that, when we were treated to a camp oven meal provided by a friend, a tasty lamb and mushroom stew. The recipe for it was as follows:
(4-6 lamb leg chops, 440 gram tin cream of mushroom soup, ¼ cup chicken stock, ½ cup red wine and 250 grams button mushrooms sliced. All ingredients went in the camp oven together, then with the lid on, placed on a bed of coals and more coals on the lid. Around an hour and a half later we had a hot and tender lamb stew to enjoy). You could also throw in cubed potatoes, carrots and peas to add even more substance.
Riverton is in the Gilbert Valley, around a 100 kilometres drive from Adelaide passing through picturesque farmland dotted with sheep and lots of interesting old stone ruins. For a day trip head to the town of Saddleworth to see the 150 year old St Stephen Catholic Church sitting imposingly atop the hill, then head to Clare via Auburn, Watervale and Sevenhill.
There are oodles of wineries along the way which you can visit for tastings and purchases when they open for visitors again, but in the meantime they are all pretty towns to visit.