On our latest wander and see where we end up tour, we find our way into Wentworth, another town we had never visited before. We’ve seen every part of the Murray River in South Australia and love the nature, wildlife, caravan parks and free camping opportunities along its length, so it was really thrilling to see the confluence of Australia’s two biggest river systems in this town.
Confluence? Yes that was a new word for me too, but it means the junction of two rivers, especially rivers of approximate equal width. The biggest surprise was how distinct the two river colours are at the confluence.
I’m used to seeing the rather dirty brown Murray River but surprisingly, it’s the Darling River that is the brown one and the Murray actually looks quite blue until the two rivers blend downstream. The place to see this amazing natural feature is Junction Park, where you can climb a viewing tower for a better look.
The two rivers are separated by Junction Island and it’s here, that you see the distinct colour difference which is due to the Darling River bed being clay based and the Murray River sand based.
You can also take a walk on Junction Island but unfortunately when we tried, we were thwarted before getting to the very point of the island by too much water turning the path into an impassable bog.
There is great interpretive signage along the walk though, with lots of information on the plants, fish and birdlife of the area, as well as important indigenous sites with scar trees and canoe trees to find.
As I always recommend, go to the local Visitor Information Centre and the helpful people there can provide you with all the best tips for what to see in the region. In this case you can pick up a Wentworth trail map which will give you heaps of ideas of what to see and there’s an easy to follow map to find your way around town.
Just a glimpse of the other highlights apart from the river confluence that we saw included these following sites. The Wentworth Wharf is actually a replica of the original and on it you’ll find a statue of John Egge, a riverboat captain originally from China, who came to Wentworth in the 1870s. During his life in Wentworth he operated a bakery, butchery, floating shop and a boarding house and was one of the largest traders on the river.
Junction Park is a place where you could spend a lot of time with lots of info to read about the meeting of the rivers, but it also contains beautiful gardens and was the site of the launch of Greening Australia’s One Billion Trees campaign. It was here that the then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke and his wife Hazel (and other dignitaries) planted river red gums to start the campaign.
In the park you’ll also find incredible carvings in a tree on its side, of Murray Cod and other river creatures. It was created by chainsaw sculptor Rob Bast in 2016.
On the other side of the river is Fotherby Park which has a reminder of the areas past riverboat history with the dry docked Paddlesteamer Ruby, the reconstructed log building which was the first Court House of Wentworth, a statue of ‘Possum’ a nomadic recluse who roamed the Murray- Darling river and lived in the bush, and a statue which pays tribute to the Grey Ferguson Tractor.
These tractors are held in high esteem by the locals because it was thanks to them and the local townspeople that the town was saved during the biggest floods ever recorded, in 1956. With the help of these tractors, locals built levees around the township and the town survived.
There are some lovely old historic buildings around town to see on the trail as well, including the cute little timber St Ignatius early convent school.
When we were in Wentworth the only caravan park right in the heart of town was closed due to renovations so we stayed at the interesting sounding Fort Courage Caravan Park. This caravan park is set on 7 acres right on the Murray River about 17 kilometres from Wentworth on the Old Renmark Road. It’s run by the Wentworth Angling Club with caretakers on site to look after the park.
Naturally being run by an angling club, fishing is front and centre, with a boat ramp, excellent fish cleaning facilities and measure stations, and a massive camp kitchen / bar area just perfect for group get togethers. The amenities were fantastic and the park was dog friendly.