If you’re looking for a uniquely Australian, super cute and quirky experience for the kids these school holidays, then you’ll want to read on.
Less than 2 hours from Adelaide, there’s a magic little spot, right on the edge of the Murray River, that will surprise and delight even the littlest ones in your family.
Imagine riding along a dusty farm track, in an authentic open top cart, spotting kangaroos, emus and wombats; watching an authentic sheep shearing show and colourful sheep races; or even sneaking in some pats for their friendly emu.
Big Bend By Night has this… and more.
Located at Big Bend, just across the Murray River from the famous ochre cliffs and downstream a few kilometres from Swan Reach, the BBBN team are a family of local farmers who love hosting people from all over the world at their riverside farm.
Above: Alpacas, emus, sheep, kangaroos, wombats and other native Aussie animals call this riverside farmstead home.
When you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time, with the original shearing shed ready to host families, plus small and large groups for tours. Here, you can choose your experience, with everything from an open top cart day tour, to the same but during nocturnal hours (for the older kids).
Above: A chance to put your feet up and enjoy the ride. Their open top cart tours are just one of the many unique things you'll experience at BBBN.
If you’re part of a big group tour, you may be able to add on a hilarious and entertaining sheep shearing show, followed quickly by a rainbow-coloured sheep race! Then, if you have a spare moment before calling it a day, you can spend time with the kids, wandering through the BBBN backyard, which is full of unique and friendly animals. Here, the team’s up-and-coming wildlife expert Sebastian will be able to show you around (unless this little 6yo entrepreneur is at school of course).
Above: The BBBN kids love hanging out at the farm and taking care of the animals. You might even see them helping out during the sheep shearing show.
And while you can head to plenty of places around SA to spot a kangaroo or emu, there’s something a bit different about BBBN – and that’s the people. The LeBrun family converted their farm to what it is today – and that is an inviting, entertaining and crazily quirky little patch of Australian outback. Owners David, and his daughter Mardi run most of the experiences and pride themselves on a creating a truly unique experience that you can’t get anywhere else in SA.
Above: Ever thought you'd get the chance to pat a friendly emu? Here it is.
Most often on an open cart ride, you’ll be treated to sites of their resident albino kangaroo, baby joeys in a mother’s pouch, wombats scurrying to find cover and inquisitive emus edging closer and closer to the carts for a peek at who’s inside.
Above: There's a good chance you'll see these guys during the sunlight/nocturnal tours.
Unsurprisingly, the operation is growing in popularity every year, and the venue now takes on large school groups during the term time, and also hosts groups from the PS Murray Princess and Unforgettable Houseboats.
Above: An Unforgettable Houseboat moored opposite the Big Bend cliffs during sunset.
But most other times, they just want to share their little patch of wild Australia with you, the punters. And while they welcome everyone for the fun, it’s especially when a city family arrive to see something they might not have ever experienced before!
Above: Sheep getting ready to race during the shearing show.
David and Mardi host the action-packed shearing show, where the much-loved sheep are introduced to the crowd before being carefully shorn, and then become even more interesting as they’re ‘auctioned’ off to the crowd before their big race down the track (occasionally joined by a couple of friendly alpacas). It’s important for visitors to note that the sheep-shearing show is only for large groups though – so just ensure when booking, that you check with the team about times and dates that your family might be able to see it (trust us, it’s worth it!).
Above: David in action shearing a sheep, while the crowd watches from the stands.
Once the adrenalin from the show has dimmed, the team will endeavour to raise it again as they help those interested, learn how to crack a stockman’s whip. You are of course provided with safety glasses before you start, but it’s always fun (and a great laugh) to watch your loved ones attempt something that looks easy from afar (but is quite difficult when you try yourself).
Above: Not often will you be asked to volunteer at cracking a whip! Here at BBBN it's just another day.
If your kids are a bit bigger, or you’re just bringing along the adults, then you have a few extra options at BBBN as well.
One of our favourites is the combination of a nocturnal animal tour and stargazing tour. The site is located directly within the recently accredited River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve (RMIDSR) – the only one of its kind in Australia, one of only 16 in the world - and offering some of the best views to the stars on the whole planet.
Above: A preview of the brilliant dark sky above the Big Bend lookout. Image: @Adeltritus.
During this tour, David will take you deep into the property via the open-top carts, where you can spot the active night-time wildlife, before you pull up to a telescope and viewing area to spot the Milky Way (and all of the other constellations which shine so brightly from Big Bend).
Above: The area's low light pollution provides a magnificent opportunity to explore the Dark Sky Reserve in all its glory.
Whatever your level of skills, make sure you bring along your camera for this trip too – because this incredible evening under the stars will offer better views than any city skyline. On the tour, you’re provided with binoculars too, plus an undercover sleeping area (BYO swag), toilets and a bush tucker breakfast in the morning.
If creature comforts and fine dining are more your thing, then these guys also offer a 3-course riverbank dinner, and if you’ve seen an image or video of the big bend cliffs on sunset, then you’ll understand why this experience is so well sought after.
The team are also expert bus tour hosts, and take people all across the region for unique experiences. A couple of favourites are their ‘Outback Pubs Tour’ and also the ‘Langhorne Creek Vineyard Tour’ – depending on your palette and taste, you can choose your favourite and hit the road for a day with Mardi (or another of their hosts).
Above: Bleasdale - one of Langhorne Creek's oldest cellar doors is a must-visit.
Whatever path you choose, you’ll come away from your Big Bend By Night experience with a swag full of incredible moments, unique sights, and likely a sore stomach from laughing at the local characters who take you along the journey.
If you want to make a longer stay of it, why not spend a few extra days in the region exploring the nearby Mannum township and its historic paddle steamer history. There’s a range of great experiences here for families, including the interactive Mannum Dock Museum, Four Knots day cruises, new nature playground at Mary Ann Reserve and more.
Above: Enjoy a step back in time at the interactive Mannum Dock Museum.
So come and spend a unique day (or a few) out in our beautiful Murray River bushland where it’s easy to keep the kids entertained and the adults relaxed.
Above: Stop and enjoy some of the simple things. Our region has lots to offer.