Not a beach person? Then a holiday by the river in South Australia could be just what you need. If a deck chair in the shade, a wide river view, pelicans and other birdlife to watch or quiet back waters to kayak appeals to you, then keep reading to find the ideal spots.
These river towns have made my Top 5 locations that won’t disappoint.
You have a choice of Caravan Parks and free camping options in Renmark but for my money you can’t beat the Renmark Riverfront Holiday Park, a resort experience on the river or the laid back Plush’s Bend RV parking for idyllic riverside caravanning at only $10 per night.
Around a three hour drive north east of Adelaide, Renmark and the Riverland area is known for citrus growing, houseboat holidays on this wide section of the Murray and consistently sunny weather. Other reasons to visit are to sample some fine food and drinks including at the Community Club overlooking the river, 23rd Street Distillery and the Woolshed Brewery.
You can be as active as you like with a five kilometre riverfront trail which is suitable for walking or bike riding and of course water sports are a top priority for locals and visitors.
If your ideal holiday is relaxing in the shade of an old gum tree and watching the world go by, then this is the place for you. There are plenty of opportunities for clear sky star gazing, watching the river traffic buzzing about, or just taking it slow and watching pelicans glide by.
At less than 100 kilometres from Adelaide, Mannum is a hugely popular river town and there are a few options for caravan stays. The caravan park is right on the riverfront and close enough to walk everywhere you need to go in town.
There are also two well maintained council campgrounds just a short ferry ride across the river, where you can stay for $10 per night. Bolto Reserve and Haythorpe Reserve have toilet facilities and you can walk back on the ferry to visit Mannum at any time, with the ferries working 24 /7.
In town don’t miss having a meal at the Pretoria Hotel, look for street art along Randell Street as you visit eclectic shops and learn about the river boat history at the Mannum Dock Museum.
Definitely try your hand at fishing, it’s a great place for kids to learn and catch something big, but unfortunately it will most likely be rubbish European Carp which taste awful, are a pest and can’t be returned to the water. You could be lucky of course and catch a decent fish, it’s always worth a try.
The caravanning options in Berri are the Riverside Caravan Park and the council run camping area at Martin Bend Reserve which is a bargain at $5 per night, but for that you are set back from the river a bit.
The location is pretty good though and facilities include toilets and a green grassed riverfront recreation and BBQ area. This is a popular spot for swimming and water skiing and it joins into a reserve and walking trail which you can take for two kilometres and end up in the town of Berri.
In Berri stop at the Visitor Information Centre located on the river front for tips on what to see and do, look for some amazing public art around town and enjoy the views and serenity of the river.
Barmera – Lake Bonney
An extremely popular spot for photographers, mainly due to believe it or not, dead trees in Lake Bonney. The photo opportunities are only limited by your imagination and on sunset in particular the silhouetted trees are an ideal subject.
The Discovery Caravan Park is directly on this lake which connects to the Murray River and there is plenty of water fun to be had with toys available to hire including kayaks and water bikes, and a pontoon to swim to as well. The park is extremely well set up for family fun with a pool, waterpark and more to keep everybody happy.
When in Barmera the must visits are, Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre and Monash Adventure Playground for some free family fun on a giant scale.
The Riverside Caravan Park at Morgan is another ideal location to base yourself and is within walking distance of all you need in the town. The riverfront reserve has a terrific adventure playground for kids as well as an historic wharf and old railway yard to discover.
The history of this river boat trading port is well preserved as the old buildings in town attest and don’t miss more at the museum in the Landseer building which is chock o block full of interesting memorabilia.
Another must visit nearby is Caudo Winery. This casually comfortable cellar door makes the most of its location on a bend, with seating on the banks of the river surrounded by green lawn and huge gum trees. This is a venue to settle into for a few hours so make sure you have chosen your designated driver well!
If ‘rivertime’ is calling, and yes that’s a known affliction in South Australia, take my tips for some stays you won’t regret. If you’re lucky you may even see the odd paddle steamer cruise by.