Live music is BACK baby!! And there’s no better way to experience it than with some epic Aussie rock at Sounds By the River this March in Mannum.
This incredible riverside event has some of the best atmosphere of any in our festival state – and although taking on a different venue this year (just up the road at the Mannum Golf Course due to COVID space density requirements), the sounds and sights will still be great in the new setting for 2021.
In fact, the event has been a sell out for the past 6 years – and with a line-up of Jimmy Barnes, Hoodoo Gurus, Jon Stevens, Diesel, Vika and Linda and Chris Cheney (of The Living End), and a committed crowd of annual attendees – we’re certain Mannum will come alive with one massive Aussie rock party on Saturday, 27 March.
But, the party doesn’t have to start and end at the festival. If you’re coming to Mannum for the event, why not stay a night or two extra and spend some time exploring this incredible area.
Above: One of the holiday houses on the Murray River near Mannum. Find out more at River Shack Rentals.
We know that many of the festival-goers will have already booked in their camping sites, cabins, motels or holiday homes for the Friday or Saturday night – but if you add on a Sunday night (or even Monday too) you can spend your festival recovery enjoying some of the best our Murray River region has on offer (perhaps the extended weekend escape you need right now?).
Of course, we know there will be tired eyes and sore feet around after the show, so we’ve created a relaxing list of experiences that might help you get back on track to enjoying the best of this beautiful little Murray River district.
Whether it’s the morning before, or the morning after the festival, breakfast will be something on everyone’s minds.
We have a couple of favourite places nearby, but a newbie that has just started to take off is the completely refurbished Bowhill General Store. A short 25-minute drive from Mannum will land you in this beautiful little riverside town – where the general store has become a whole lot more! The incredible clifftop deck and lawns overlooking the Murray River will be the perfect place to laugh about all the fun you had at Sounds By The River - while you tuck in to your bacon, eggs and a BIG coffee. Or if you don’t make it for brekky, their lunchtime menu packs a punch too.
Above: Make sure you grab a meal at the Bowhill General Store, and take in this spectactular view!
Otherwise, if you want to simply wake up and grab something straight away, just head for a walk along Mannum’s historic Randell Street where you’ll find a number of great little cafes, bakeries and takeaways all serving up fresh coffee and whatever food your recovery requires. If you’re after a breakfast view, check out Café Mannum, overlooking the dual ferries that cross the river every few minutes.
Above: Grab breakfast at Cafe Mannum, while you watch the ferries cross over the Murray River.
One of the best things about Mannum, and the broader Mid Murray district, is its natural beauty. Believe it or not, this Mid Murray Council district actually has the most river reserves of any in Australia! This is good news for those who like to head out for a stroll – because there are plenty of places to walk, talk and take in the sights right here.
Mannum is the gateway to the Murray River International Dark Sky Reserve so while you are here, look up and take in the amazing canopy of some of the brightest stars on the planet! If fresh air, open space and the quiet sounds of nature are what you need after a day of festival music and crowds, then make sure you pencil in a walk around Mannum before you leave. One of our absolute favourites is of course the Mannum Waterfalls. This incredible spot has short and family-friendly trails, or more difficult/uphill trails for the advanced walkers or fitter folks around the place. The photo opportunities here are endless, but the sheer beauty of the landscape with the large boulders and (hopefully) trickles of water running through, will surprise and delight you.
Above: Head for a walk through the picturesque Mannum Waterfalls trails.
Above: Pack your bike and explore the Murray Coorong Trail.
If you want to stay closer to town, then head down historic Randell Street, before catching a (free) ferry ride on foot over to Haythorpe Reserve. From here you can follow the newly constructed Murray Coorong Trail which connects the township of Mannum to Younghusband. You can choose to walk for as long, or short as you like here – but the riverfront trail will definitely help you enjoy your Sunday best on the Murray River. (*Note – this trail is great for cycling too, and even if you don’t have your own bike, you can hire one from the local Mannum Visitor Information Centre!).
If you’ve got little ones with you, then take a short walk past the ferries and caravan park to the Hermann Gass Bird Sanctuary. This gorgeous little spot will help bring you back to earth, with its cute bird hides and jetty walks created for bird lovers and inquisitive kids. (*Note – for those with kids, you should DEFINITELY stop into the Mannum Dock Museum before you leave Mannum. This place is no ordinary museum, it has interactive displays and fun for kids to make them feel like they’re the captain of their own paddle steamer! And parents will get a kick out of exploring the displays too.)
Above: Grab a coffee and head for a walk to the Hermann Gass reserve, nearby the Mannum Caravan Park.
Or – if you and the crew are feeling up for something a bit more physical, why not get out on the river for some adrenalin-raising action. With the crew from Freedom Boat Hire, you can hire your own kayaks, jet skis, speedboats or other river activities; OR get Stu and the team to take you out on the river in a guided tour. For those who love speed, test out the new jet ski safari tour – but for those after a slower pace, try the kayaking tours instead.
Above: Spend the days before and after the festival ON the water with Freedom Boat Hire.
If you have the time to spare for a lunch or dinner in the Mannum township – you’ll quickly realise there are plenty of options. Because Mannum is a hot-spot for tourists from houseboats and the large river cruises such as the PS Murray Princess and Proud Mary – its main street is lined with great little places to eat out or take away.
Above: Keep your eyes out for the beauty and grace of the PS Murray Princess.
One of the best views you’ll find though is on the Pretoria Hotel front deck. This place is so close to the river, that people just park the boats out the front and walk straight onto the front lawn beer garden. These guys also have an ever-changing menu and regular list of live music too if you want to keep the theme of the weekend rolling!
Above: Enjoy a recovery burger on the front deck of the Pretoria Hotel overlooking the Murray River.
There’s also the local Mannum Community Club nearby, which serves up traditional club food, with river views from most tables in the restaurant area as well. Otherwise, if you’re after more traditional pub fare at the Mannum Hotel, head to the other side of the road to what’s affectionately known as the Mannum ‘bottom pub’. Here the team serve up perfectly-cooked schnitzels for the whole group.
There’s also not one, but TWO brilliant little bakeries on the main street, plus a couple of takeaways – which means you can grab and go if you want to head down to the famous Mary Ann Reserve and eat lunch. This beautiful spot provides sweeping views of the river, and is where the Sounds by the River event is usually held each year.
If you really can’t be bothered making the decisions, or doing any driving or walking yourself – then perhaps you need to get someone else to do it for you.
If you love history, there’s a gorgeous little paddle steamer – the PW Mayflower - that heads out for two cruises (10.30am and 1pm) on the Sunday after Sounds By the River. All ages are welcome to jump on board and take a 90-minute historic journey along the water, as local volunteers and maritime experts guide your experience with expert knowledge and facts about the area. Normally we would also recommend a cruise on board the historic PS Marion as well but due to her age she only cruises at certain times of the year but offers short cruises on most long weekends and amazing extended and overnight cruises to far away river locations!).
Above: Check out the historic paddlesteamers in Mannum while you're there.
If being on the water is your style, but you’re perhaps looking for something a little different – then why not test out a short day-time cruise with Chad and his team at Four Knots Cruises. These local tour experts specialise in nature cruises so kick off with a 10.30am morning cruise (including coffee and tea) and for 90 minutes will casually cruise you around some of the best spots along Mannum’s river. Otherwise, you can take the lunch time cruise (and get fed as well), or if you’re staying Sunday onwards, we’d recommend the afternoon or sunset cruises too.
Above: Take a cruise on Four Knots and enjoy the Murray River at its best!
All of the cruises include raptor feeding – an experience you need to see to believe! Otherwise, just sit back and take in the sights and sounds of the beautiful Murray River environment. You can also ask for your own private tour or special event charter, including catering options too – so get in touch and let these guys organise it all for you.
Back on to land – and for something completely different and unique - you can also book a customised limo bus tour with Kelly from Juggle House Experiences. Kel and her team go out of their way to plan the best possible experience for you and up to 10 of your friends. Known as the ‘master juggler’ Kel takes people on tours pretty much everywhere! Whether you’re an adrenalin-junkie or wine-lover, or perhaps in need of some beauty therapy or shopping time – then Kel has something for you.
One of her favourite local icons to show off at the moment though is the newly accredited Murray River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve. The star gazing experience is not far from Mannum with some of the darkest sky in the world – which means the best place to view the stars! It’s quite spectacular and Kel will guide you there (with champagne too if you’d like) for an experience like no other. Check out more about the Juggle House tours here.
Above: Juggle House Experiences under the stars of the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve.
Otherwise, if you’re keen to see the dark sky reserve, but want to make your own way there – you can check out all the other experiences, tour routes, best viewing spots and tips for travelling there on the website here (there are even options for astrophotography workshops and overnight camps in the darkest centre of the reserve).
Above: An iconic view below the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve (image courtesy of @itsrowanjames).
Seriously though, you can come for the music, but you should most definitely stay for the fun here in the greater Mannum district. This place is brimming with things to do, see, taste and experience – and a long weekend will give you enough of a taste that will help you start planning your 2022 itinerary and extended stay.
For ideas on where you might be able to extend your accommodation for a few extra days (before or after the festival, why not check out these options:
River Shack Rentals: Luxury to quant holiday homes along the Murray River.
Mannum Riverside Caravan Park: Camping spots and cabins on the riverfront.
Mannum Motel: Casual accommodation near the river.
Camping: There are a range of reserves you can camp on for a small cost.