It’s time to come back to the Murray River.
The views, the smells, the sounds, the wide-open spaces… it’s all here waiting for you to enjoy (with your group of 9 other friends or family).
For many of us, the social-distancing and ‘stay at home’ time has been absolutely worthwhile, but equally devastating in terms of the sudden and lengthy time away from our loved ones. So we want to help you reconnect with your family and friends, and get away from the house (and screen) while you’re doing it.
Of course we know it’s an overwhelming time, so to make your life easier, and hook you up directly with the places that are open and spaces that are calling you, we’ve pulled together a few short and sharp itineraries for a weekend (or week-long) getaway.
And at only 45 minutes from the Adelaide tollgate, it might just be the perfect post-isolation escape.
Step One: Find somewhere to stay
After 60-plus days of Zoom meetings and screaming kids clawing at your side, we’re guessing you’ll want two key things: 1) lots of room to move (or to hide from your kids); and importantly 2) a waterfront view.
Above: Relax in style and comfort with a premium river front holiday home.
Down here along the banks of the Murray River, Lower Lakes (Albert and Alexandrina) and Coorong National Park, we’ve got plenty. A few of our favourites, which sleep up to 10 people, are located directly on the edge of the water in beautiful little towns like Mannum, Swan Reach, Bowhill, Caurnamont, Murray Bridge, Tailem Bend, Wellington, Milang, Clayton Bay and Goolwa.
If you’re really in need of luxury and space, try on of these popular getaways at Bowhill, Caurnamont or Murray Bridge. Both with two stories, big decks, outdoor kitchens and perfectly placed fire pits – these are the winter escapes we’ve all been dreaming of in isolation.
Or if you’re after a little extra indulgence and romance, then book a customised package at Riverview Rise Retreats near Mannum. These guys even have a spa overlooking the river, and will drop you off chef-prepared meals, so you don’t have to move.
Above: The view from Riverview Rise Retreats, near Mannum.
But, if there’s a couple of families who want to stay separately (in the same place), why not try out Aruma River Resort. This awesome little spot on the river at Walker Flat includes brilliant accommodation and views, plus has an on-site playground, sports courts, swimming pool and access to tie your boats/kayaks just out the front.
Or if you’re after something a little smaller, maybe with some friends - why not try this cute little getaway just out of Murray Bridge - with it’s own patch of riverfront paradise so you can rug up, pour a glass of wine and watch the world float by.
Or for some inspiration, dive on to the River Shack Rentals website and lock in your favourite!
If the Lakes and Coorong are more your thing, then instead try booking something with the crew from Coorong Realty. There’s a few pretty quirky and unique getaways as you drive towards the Coorong, and the waterways and wildlife will never let you down.
Above: After that home away from home feeling with a hint of river side luxury? Brock’s Base has got you covered.
For some luxury at the entry point to the Coorong, Brock’s Base at Wellington Marina is a perfect fit. Or if you want to be in the thick of the Coorong, try the Coorong Aurora - a four-bedroom house with unbelievable views and rustic charm.
Not far from here there’s other brilliant accommodation options for big and small groups – including the much-loved Coorong Waterfront Retreat and eco-friendly Coorong Cabins. These are the kind of places you can drag your kayak from the front lawn to the water’s edge in mere seconds. They’re also close enough to Adelaide, that you’re not wasting half of your weekend driving; but when you arrive, feel like you’re a million miles away from the city.
Above: How's this for prime waters edge location at Coorong Aurora?!
These are the kind of places you can drag your kayak from the front lawn to the water’s edge in mere seconds. They’re also close enough to Adelaide, that you’re not wasting half of your weekend driving; but when you arrive, feel like you’re a million miles away from the city.
Or if camping, cabins and caravanning are more your style, we’d suggest you try some of our favourite waterfront caravan parks – including those at Lake Albert, Mannum, Swan Reach, Punyelroo, Murray Bridge, Hindmarsh Island, Milang, Clayton Bay and Goolwa.
Step two: Make it a (short) road trip as you meander our way
We know it’s only a short trip here, but if you can’t check-in until 2pm, why not make the most of your morning?
Wherever you’re staying, you’ll likely be heading to, through, or past Murray Bridge – and it’s definitely worth dropping in to this underrated tourism town to see what’s new (and equally marvel at the history). A simple drive over the historic car bridge is worth it, where the odd feeling of the expansive Murray under your feet combined with the 360-degree views (for passengers of course) along the river, will kick start that feeling of ‘escape’ from the city, and your computer-screen.
Did you know you can also stop the car and walk across the historic Murray Bridge as well? There are car parks on either side of the Bridge, so why not grab a takeaway coffee and head for a stroll. Even better is that you can walk along one side on the way over, and cross to the other for the way back – providing sensational views up and down the River – and a good 20-30 minute workout too!
While you’re in town, you MUST swing past and say g’day to Bertha the Bunyip. We promise she’s not-so-scary (unless your 4 years old and still believe in mythical creatures).
Bertha is located along the riverfront at Sturt Reserve – one of the region’s premier riverside destinations. Here you’ll find expansive lawns, giant undercover kids playground, massive (recently-upgraded) skate park, kids pump track and more. Once you’re at the reserve, you also won’t be able to miss the riverfront café Riverscape. These guys have turned their hand to some of the tastiest takeaway you’ll find, and we’d recommend a quick lunch break on the lawns with one of their wood-fired pizzas or chicken burgers.
Above: Location, location- the team at Riverscape have the ultimate spot for you to enjoy your next meal!
If you have the time to wander the main street, stop in for a freshly-brewed coffee and cake at Mystical Flair along Bridge Street. This little spot has some of the most delectable dishes - and also offers vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free items.
If you’re en route to Mannum, a quick stop in at the Mannum Waterfalls and one of the main-street bakeries is a must. Or if you’re going further, then duck in and check out the new Bowhill General Store! This brilliant little spot has some of the best views along the Murray River, and will make you want to plan your next holiday in one of its waterfront rentals!
Above: Bowhill General Store has certainly raised the bar and is without a doubt a go-to spot for both locals and visitors.
If you’re heading in the other direction towards the Coorong, then a pit stop in Tailem Bend’s main street is a MUST. The food and coffee at Little Local Co is worth a trip from Adelaide on its own, and a few doors down, the local award-winning bakery will treat you to one of their giant donuts or best-in-SA sausage rolls to takeaway to your holiday retreat!
Above: Can we just take a moment to appreciate the mouth watering goodness of these donut bouquets by Tailem Bend Bakery?!
The bakery is also opposite a cool little playground that has plenty of open space, an old train carriage replica and painted sheep from the much-loved children’s book ‘Where is the Green Sheep?’. So if you’ve got kids, it’s worth ducking in off the freeway to let the kids run free for a while.
Further on, there is a cute little café, the Wellington Hall that specialises in home-cooked goodness and barista-made coffee. Onwards towards the Coorong in the Lake Albert town of Meninge, there’s plenty of takeaways and bakeries to feed a weary traveller – and you’d be mad not to taste test a Coorong Mullet burger from one of the locals – because you won’t find it fresher anywhere else!.
STEP THREE: Grab the gear
If you’re like us, and you have active kids, or people who like to explore from their holiday accommodation – then it’s probably a good idea to take a trailer full of your bikes, kayaks and paddle boards. Otherwise, you can hire gear from Freedom Hire in Murray Bridge, Breeze Hire in Mannum and Lake Albert Paddle Boards in Meningie.
Above: This pup loves getting on the River with his owner. Pic via Kerryn Mundy.
If you’d prefer to be given a personalised tour on the water, then you MUST give Brenton and the team from Canoe the Coorong. These guys are absolute professionals, and can take you on a short and long tour, via kayak, to some of the most beautiful untouched gems in the Coorong (only accessible by kayak). If you’re lucky, they’ll even cook up fresh Pipis for you during the trip!
STEP FOUR: Share your photos and stories
We want to join you (virtually) on your journey. So whether you’re reading a book and gazing over the river, being scared pantless by our famous bunyip, drinking coffee at our local cafes, cruising along the Lakes in a tinny, or paddling out with the pelicans on the Coorong – we want to see the pics!
**COVID-19: As restrictions being to ease around South Australia, please ensure that you check with operators and appropriate authorities before you travel. If you are feeling sick, please stay home and travel again when you're well.