27 Jan 2021

Summer in South Australia is synonymous with long hot days and lingering balmy nights spent riverside.

Feel the pulse of the land as you meander down its lifeblood; rise with the birds, spend your days floating downstream, discover your own secret piece of paradise and send off each day with a local gin and golden sunsets. Here’s our guide to houseboating in the Riverland, departing from and returning to Renmark.

 

HOUSEBOAT HIRE

From luxury floating pads to family-friendly vessels, hiring a houseboat is one of the most immersive and affordable ways to explore the Murray River. Renmark is a popular launching point for houseboats in the Riverland including Wilkadene Houseboats, Renmark Houseboats and Riverfun Houseboats, while more options await along the river from Paringa to Blanchetown. Check out our full guide to houseboat hire on the Murray River and start planning.

Weekend Houseboat Itinerary

Renmark to Lyrup

29kms approximately 4 hours cruise time

Murray River, Riverland
Murray River, Riverland

Sitting majestically on the sprawling banks of the Murray River, Renmark is a convergence of serene waterways and contemporary watering holes. The heart of the Riverland and launching point for your Riverland houseboating adventure, spend a day or two exploring before setting sail. Tour the home of Australian brandy at St Agnes Distillery or sample your way through gins, vodkas, whiskies and brandies cosied up in a private booth fashioned from historic wine tanks at Twenty Third Street Distillery. Stock up for the river, then check into your floating house.

Drift to your first destination at an unhurried pace. Lyrup lies four hours downriver from Renmark and its tranquil banks offer the perfect mooring to spend your first night on the river. Cook up a feast featuring local produce – the Riverland is famous for its thriving fruit and nut industry – and wash it down with a local wine or gin as you soak in sunset and serene surrounds.

Lyrup to Berri

13 kms approximately 2 hours cruise time

Aggie's Fruit Stall, Riverland
Aggie's Fruit Stall, Riverland

Rise early and start your cruisy two-hour punt to Berri. Better known as Australia’s fruit bowl, Berri has some of Australia’s best regional produce and is lined with rich riverbanks teeming with wildlife and a fascinating history. Tie up and spend a few hours exploring; stock up at a local roadside fruit stall, have lunch on the banks of the river at the Berri Hotel or take a longer stroll and be rewarded with an organic wine or two in 919 Wines’ sustainably built straw-bale cellar door. If you’d rather stay riverside, this stretch of the river is primed for water skiing, wake boarding, jet-skiing and fishing.

*If you’ve only got the weekend on the boat, after your night in Berri it’s time to make your way back upstream to Renmark, a 6-hour cruise.

Four-Day Houseboat Itinerary

Berri to Loxton

37 kms approximately 5.3 hours cruise time

Kayaking, Riverland
Kayaking, Riverland

As sunlight trickles over the river, your morning alarm is courtesy of the abundant birdlife. Sip a locally roasted brew from Arrosto Coffee to kick off your day then cast off on a kayaking adventure from Berri with Canoe Adventures Riverland, exploring meandering backwaters and quiet streams. Early risers will be rewarded with the most unforgettable encounters with local wildlife. The waterways and wetlands of the Murray River provide vital habitats for an astounding array of native animals - including some 180 endemic bird species which are most active during the early hours. Afterwards, start your five-hour cruise to Loxton. Find a secluded mooring to dock for the night then wander into town for dinner; Loxton is home to plenty of restaurants and cafes.

*If you’ve only got four nights on the boat, after your night at Loxton it’s time to amble back towards Renmark, mooring at Berri or Lyrup for your final night.

SEVEN DAY HOUSEBOAT ITINERARY

Loxton to Moorook

37 kms approximately 5.3 hours cruise time

Lake Bonney, Riverland
Lake Bonney, Riverland

Continuing on from the four-day itinerary, Moorok lies some 116 kilometres downriver from Renmark and is the farthest destination on the journey. Set to the backdrop of rich grassy banks, vibrant wetlands, sprawling citrus orchards and a patchwork of vineyards, Moorok is your gateway to Barmera and the watery wonderland of Lake Bonney. Explore the lake by kayak or SUP, then stick around for sunset for jaw dropping photo opportunities. If you need a break from river time, take things up a notch at Loveday 4x4 Park where jet ski tours, 4wd tracks and hot laps in a buggy or race car await the adventurous.

Moorok to Loxton

37 kms approximately 5.3 hours cruise time

Start the next leg of the cruise back to Loxton early, there’s lots more to explore in this historic town. If you’re travelling with children in tow, tie up and take a trip back into the past at The Village, uncovering the stories of the region’s early settlers as you watch live sheep shearing and blacksmith demonstrations before heading to the Pioneer Playground. Adults are well catered for, too. Moor just north of Loxton to be ideally located to sip wines at Salena Estate, where the Riverland’s abundant sunshine is to thank for an array of exceptional wines from crisp whites, rosés and sparklings to rich reds and tawnys. Choose your adventure, then have dinner at the Loxton Hotel before retreating to the secluded sanctuary of your houseboat.

Loxton to Lyrup

50kms approximately 7 hours cruise time

Fishing, Riverland
Fishing, Riverland

The journey from Loxton to Lyrup is the lengthiest of the itinerary so cast off early to enjoy idyllic riverscapes as you navigate back upriver. Go with the flow and take your time as ancient gums, picturesque riverside towns, masses of wildlife and sprawling mallees pass by. Find a private bank to picnic along the way, and if time permits, cast a line and try your luck fishing for the illusive Murray Cod. Berth along the banks without another soul in sight and settle in for a quiet night tucked on the river near Lyrup.

Lyrup to Paringa

25kms 3.5 hours cruise time

Headings Cliffs, Riverland
Headings Cliffs, Riverland

The final leg of the journey takes in one of the most iconic and breathtaking sights along the river; Headings Cliff. Cradled between ochre cliffs and lush flood plains riverscapes, Paringa lies just beyond Renmark. Tie up and trek to the top of the cliffs for a magical gun barrel view down river or hire a kayak from Canoe the Riverland and be dwarfed by the towering cliffs as you paddle by. Pause for lunch in its shadows and savour your final moments on river time before cruising half an hour back to Renmark to disembark.

GUIDED HOUSEBOAT TOURS

Don’t want to plan? Check out our guide to the Murray River Walk and let a knowledgeable local plan your trip. The guided tour includes houseboat hire, catering and tours to some of the most iconic, and lesser known hidden gems along the river. For animal lovers, the three-day Murray River Safari guided tour is one of the best ways to be immersed in the Riverland's incredible wildlife.

HELPFUL INFO

  • Average houseboat cruising speed is 7km/hour.
  • Cruise times between destinations are approximate. For cruise times between towns along the Murray River, check out houseboatbookings.com for distance and travel times.
  • The hours of passage through locks is generally 8am-11.30am and 1pm-4pm 7 days a week.
  • Houseboats must be moored between sunset and sunrise.

Riverside exploration

For more inspiration, check out our Riverland and Murray River, Lakes and Coorong suggested itineraries or explore another iconic stretch of the Murray River with our Murray River, Lakes and Coorong houseboating guide.

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