If you’re retired, or an empty-nester, then chances are you probably don’t want to travel during the July school holidays. Of course we love our kids and our grandkids beyond compare, BUT… a few days of peace and quiet without them, allow us to explore our beautiful SA regions without them.
Here’s the good news: we want to help you find those moments of peace in the next two weeks (before school holidays start on 4 July and you’re back on babysitting duties).
We’ve mapped out some relaxing day-trips, all under 90 minutes from the city, which will take you to some of the most beautiful landscapes and waterways; with picture-perfect riverside reserves, relaxing walkways, and even a few historic trails if you want to explore the past.
Our rural charm is an added bonus, so you can kick-back with the locals and feel like you a million miles away from the city (even if it’s only momentarily).
We’ve even avoided the playgrounds too, so you can keep to yourself and soak up the serenity.
The best part – you can explore our region on a budget. So take a read, and test out some of these spots:
Slow right down and take in the sights and sounds of the Murray River with a walk along some of our picturesque, short river trails. You can see more, breathe the fresh air and get some exercise at the same time – and without the grandkids in tow, you can stroll at your own pace.
However broad your interests may be, there is something for everyone. Here are some of our favourites (and we promise not to send you on a full-day hike!):
Follow the boardwalks and interpretative signs at Murray Bridge’s Swanport Wetlands
Dive in to history along the Murray Bridge Discovery Trail
Walk the riverfront along the Lavender Federation Trail (Murray Bridge to Monarto)
Take in the railway heritage at Tailem Bend’s River Bend Heritage Trail
Explore the historic home of the paddlesteamer on Mannum’s The Randell Walk
Get out of the town on sections of the Murray Coorong Trail
Or if you love to paddle, strap the kayak on and test out the Lower Murray Canoe Trail
Tip: Many of our Visitor Information Centres offer free bike hire if you prefer to explore on wheels.
Above: The Swanport Wetlands is hidden gem that lets you take a step into nature without having to travel too far from the township. Image: Glenn Power.
If you’re a river history buff, why not jump aboard on of the PW Mayflower for a trip during it’s Tuesday or Thursday calendar. This old beauty has just started cruising again and offers the perfect mix of relaxation and fun. Otherwise, you can gather a small group together and head out with Four Knots – just check out their website for the range of different offerings they have and available times.
Above: This authentic wood fired paddle steamer, the PS Oscar W, can be seen cruising through Goolwa from the Wharf Precinct. Image: @glenysgelzinis.
Above: Take a walk along Meningie's lakefront.
About 90 minutes from Adelaide, you can take yourself on a gentle stroll along Meningie’s Lake Albert foreshore, and soak up a good feel for the town’s relaxed atmosphere. Step on to one of the jetties or viewing platforms and look out for the resident pelicans gliding through the water. Along the way you’re sure to spot the iconic Birdman of the Coorong statue – so don’t forget to pack your camera, because there are some incredible sights and wildlife to capture while you’re here.
We hope you bring your appetite too because the local Coorong Mullet is served just about anywhere you go in Meningie – it’s a must-try.
While you’re here (and if you have the time) it’s also worth a cruise around the Narrung Peninsula which circles the edge of Lake Albert. The untouched natural wildlife, historic homesteads and Coorong lagoons offer beautiful landscapes – and make sure you take the trip across the Narrung Ferry where you’ll see the only inland lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere (and you can park your car and walk up to the top for a close-up look at this incredible landmark of history)!
As you make your way over to Lake Albert’s sister – Lake Alexandrina, you’ll find the beauty of the landscape continues. If you’re heading back towards Adelaide, why not follow Alexandrina on the longer, winding road and soak up it’s scenery. If you’re coming from Meningie, cross over the ferry at Wellington, before you dive along the Lake towards Langhorne Creek.
From the ‘Creek, you’ll probably want to spend some time cruising (or walking) through the towns of Milang and Clayton Bay. These places set the sky ablaze with brilliant shades of orange and pink over the Lake – talk about picture perfect. The hues on the still water are a photographer's dream.
You can also grab a fresh coffee or bite while you overlook the lake at the Sails Café, Clayton Bay – this is a hidden gem that you’ll want to add to your daytrip list each year.
Above: A beautiful moment captured on the Clayton Bay jetty by @simcam_photo.
If you live in Adelaide (or nearby) you can easily visit the iconic Coorong during a day trip from either the Salt Creek or Goolwa side.
If you want to head to the ‘wild-side’ of the Coorong, travel towards Meningie again and head out to Noonameema along 7 Mile Road. This is the closest point of the Coorong heading South East and a great place to stop and have a picnic lunch. (If you want to extend your stay, there are some beautiful little waterside cottages out here too – we’d recommend Coorong Cabins or the Coorong Waterfront Retreat – and if you decide to stay, then check out our other favourite features of the Coorong here and here.
If you have some extra time up your sleeve, and a 4WD at your disposal, then travel a little further to Salt Creek and explore deep in to the national park. One of the short walks worth the trip is the Jack Point Pelican Observatory Walk, right in the thick of Storm Boy country. Otherwise, a simple drive over the dunes at Tea Tree Crossing to the famous Seven Mile Beach is a magnificent sight.
On the Goolwa side of the Coorong National Park, the scenes are a little different. Start your journey by driving over the Hindmarsh Bridge and out to Sugar’s Beach. Here you can grab a coffee from the local food van parked out there (7-days-a-week) and stroll along the beautiful lagoon side of the Murray Mouth and dip your toes in the clear, shallow water. The views that sweep over the saltwater lagoon and out to the wild ocean are worth a look – and if you’re lucky enough you might even see the crew from Spirit of the Coorong cruise past as they make their way out for a tour. While you’re out on the Island, you might also want to duck into the marina tavern and grab yourself some lunch too. These guys have uninterrupted views over the Murray River towards the barrages, and you can dream about owning one of the yachts parked out front.
If you want to extend your trip in Goolwa, head back over the Bridge, and towards the Barrage. This spot is a hidden gem. Here you can park your car and explore two beautifully different landscapes in a short walk. The first is to stroll over the barrage and watch the birds and fish fly as the move through the lock’s waters. There’s also a beautifully grassed reserve, shade and public toilets here if you want to stop for a picnic.
Keep the car parked here, and look for the walking trail signs over the other side of the sandhill. This short walk takes you directly over to the main Goolwa Beach. At the top of the sandhill you’ll be treated to a 180 degree view of the coastline. If your game enough, walk down to the beach and dip your toes in – during the right month, you might even pick up some of the local delicacies – Pipis!
If walking’s not your thing though (and you want someone else to do the hard work) then book a tour with the crew from Spirit of the Coorong, Cruise the Coorong or Canoe the Coorong. These guys will give you a tour to places you can only experience from the water, and their local knowledge will give you an insight into the history and environment that makes up the iconic Coorong National Park.
Above: Escape to the Coorong and Murray Mouth onboard the Spirit of the Coorong.
Above: If Pat can do attempt a hot lap around The Bend - so can you!
We promised something to get your heart racing – and here it is.
84-year-old Pat (pictured above) proves motorsport has no age limits when she bravely buckled herself in for The Bend’s new Porsche 911 GT3 hot lap experience.
For something a little tamer – jump into the karts, otherwise keep it trackside and sit down for a meal at their Apex Lounge or FUEL Restaurant & Bar after getting up close with their classic vehicle showroom.
We can’t forget to mention the wonderful silo art found in our region. Yes, there’s two to visit (both huge and close to the road) and they’re perfectly spread out between townships making stopovers easier so you can get out to stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat and have a quick look around before continuing on your way.
Our most recent silo art in Karoonda can be visited day or night, offering localised artwork by artist Heesco, and a rotation of visual art projected on to the silos each month. If you’ve got the time, stop in for a meal at the local pub (who do a mean schnitzel).
Above: Put the Karoonda Silos on your bucket list. This beauty must be seen in person (day and night)! Image: @alittlevintagecaravan.
The Coonalpyn Silos (painted by world-renowned Guido van Helten) are just as wonderful with beautiful detail and craftmanship. Here, you can also grab the authentic freshly baked creations from Waffles & Jaffles just opposite on the roadside (we’d travel to Coonalpyn just for a serve of these anyway). After your serve of sweet treats, follow the rest of the Coonalpyn Arts Trail – if you have the time you can explore the underpass artwork, a giant community mosaic and an eagle’s head (made from small tiles) looking straight in your eyes along a fence.
If you’re after a bigger meal on your road trip, then add the Coonalpyn Hotel to your dine-in list. These guys do a great schnitzel and are walking distance from the arts trail.
Above: Whether you're a railway spotter or train buff, the Railway Museum in Milang is not to be missed. Image: @michaelwaterhousephotography.
And because we’re in SA, you can forget France, instead sip your way through one of the oldest wine regions in Australia – Langhorne Creek. These cellar doors have been family-owned and run for many generations. Their picturesque tasting rooms and views over the vines are perfectly coupled with their award-winning wines. Most of the wineries offer meals and snacks, but if you’re after a bigger dine-in experience, then try the local hotel, or the Winehouse for some local produce.
Above: You know you wanna sit down and take in those views out towards the Kimbolton Wines vineyard. Image: @kimbolton_wines.
The best bit? All of this is only a short car trip, from the Adelaide Tollgate.
Come for a drive and get to know your new favourite day trip destination – the Murray River, Lakes and Coorong.
**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.