We’re sure you can agree, there's nothing quite like a dose of country air and rural charm. And there’s nowhere better than Karoonda – in the heart of the Mallee - to enjoy the wide, open space and get to know the friendly locals.
With the long weekend and school holidays on the horizon, we think this small, but mighty town, deserves a visit from you and your tribe (this includes the four-legged family members too)!
Karoonda has grown significantly in the past few years, from being a rural town known mostly for its annual Farm Fair (which is coming up 9-10 April 2021 by the way), to now being on the map for its exquisite, award-winning outdoor art and a unique spacey playground experience.
It’s also no secret that Karoonda is just as fun for the kids as it is for adults. Whether you’re looking to see one of Australia’s best mega murals, appreciate locally made street art, test out the State’s first three-tier tower slide, have a squiz at historical relics at Pioneer Park, get a selfie in front of the ‘big ram’, or enjoy the experience of a country pub - then this Murray Mallee town has you covered.
Keep reading to find out the four reasons why you should be planning your next day trip or long weekend stopover right here in the heart of South Australia’s Mallee.
The Karoonda Silo Art became Australia’s first day and night silo art experience in June 2019, and its helped put the town on the map (literally, there’s a silo art trail which also includes nearby Coonalpyn!).
What’s so spectacular about this silo, is the dual experience on offer at any time of the year. During the day, a giant mural created by talented Melbourne artist Heesco, packs a punch of colour which depicts the rural story of the town. It’s seriously a breath-taking moment when you get to stand there and gaze up at the towering silo, looking at the details created by the artist.
You’ll notice there’s a blank space framed – that’s where the magic happens after dark! From sunset, a revolving calendar of local South Australian artists are showcased on to the silos. If you can’t stick around until sundown, then you definitely need to come back another time – we promise it’s worth it!
Tip: View the silo projection calendar here, to see which artist will be on display when you arrive.
If you weren’t already impressed, the Karoonda Silo Art recently won gold in the 2020 Australian Street Art Awards in the Best Mega Mural category, then one-upped themselves with the judge’s Best of the Best Award recognition. Enough said – pack the car!
If you haven’t already noticed, Karoonda is proud of its innovation and ability to set the bar high with a few trail blazing ‘firsts’. With that said… get ready. What we’re about to tell you will make thrill-seeking young families seriously consider a day trip to Karoonda, for the playground alone!
The town’s brand new, 10-metre, three-tier tower is unlike anything else you can find in South Australia – and it only just opened in December 2020!
The design incorporated the feedback of local children, who wanted to see a show-stopping playground with an ‘outer space’ theme that connects to the town’s historic meteorite. While the tower has hit the nail on the head with being attention-grabbing, the play space continues to knock it out the park with a custom-built moon rover, orbiting carousel, space tether-style flying fox, star-gazing hammock, and water play area.
There’s also equipment suited for children with disability access in mind – they really have thought of it all!
Now if that didn’t tucker out the kids - 15 minutes away at Wynarka, another new playground has just opened. And that’s not all – nearby Wanbi will be getting a nature play space, adding to the assortment in the Mallee.
From this, a playground trail will form. So if you’re travelling between the neighbouring Riverland region, towards Murray Bridge (or vice-versa), you won’t need to re-route - they can all be found along the Karoonda Highway.
After all, it’s an unwritten rule that families can’t drive past by a new playground without making a stop to test it out!
Karoonda’s Pioneer Park pays homage to the town’s long line of pioneering, railway and agricultural history. Whether you have a keen interest in history, or just need to stretch your legs after a long drive, you could easily lose some time discovering the site.
It’s open seven days a week and free to wander through the multiple historical buildings and view a range of memorabilia and displays of harvest machinery, ploughs, railway rolling stock, carriages, and more. Guided tours are also available for groups on request.
From here, you have the option to follow on to the nearby 1km Nature Trail and Bushwalk, where you’ll come across flora native to the district as well as historic items (identified by signage).
Another fantastic yet intriguing piece of history is the meteorite on display in the Karoonda Council Office. Fun fact – it just had its 90-year-anniversary after falling to earth in November 1930! It was so bright and significant, the huge ball of fire was seen shooting across the sky by residents in places as far as Port Lincoln, Mount Gambier and even Broken Hill, NSW.
Making your way through the town is almost like following an art trail. There’s various art forms sprinkled along the street between the good old country pub, local deli and craft shops.
There’s the iconic Big Ram – an ode to the town’s significant sheep farming history.
And don’t forget the amazing Karoonda Shuffle Screen created by renowned SA artist Gary Duncan.
One you can’t skip past is the impressive metal art sculpture by Mallee Boy Art, acting as tribute to the hard-working women of farming communities.
If you plan to stay here, try the Karoonda Cabin and Caravan Park. There’s cabins, powered and unpowered campsites to suit different accommodation styles. The town is also RV Friendly – so if visiting in your motorhome or towing the caravan or camper, you know there’s everything here you need for a good stay.
Plus there’s a free wifi and charging station in the centre of town, near the public toilets for those who need to refresh and charge up!
Plan your daytrip now!