From camping and fishing to house-boating or kayaking, take your pick from our top 10 things to do in the Riverland.
The Riverland is synonymous with outdoor Australian culture where memories are made on the of banks the picturesque Murray River. For 362 kilometres the river and its delicate ecosystem meanders from the New South Wales and Victorian borders into South Australia and down into the Indian Ocean. Here’s our guide to experiencing the best of the Murray River with our top 10 things to do in the Riverland.
1. houseboat along the murray river
It almost goes without saying, but one of the best ways to go with the flow, literally, is on a houseboat. From the vantage point and comfort of your house-with-a-rudder, dangle your legs overboard and do as the locals do: live your best life on the river. Self-driving a houseboat gives you the freedom to explore remote natural beauty and berth along the banks without a soul in sight. View houseboats for hire in the Riverland. Still very much on river-time, but with a splash of sophistication, The Frames Retreats are perched high along the river with each villa (there are three) offering private pools, views and space to enjoy the perks of river life in luxury.
2. Riverland produce and beverages
The Riverland is abundant in grains, fruits, vegetables, grapes and nuts. It’s famed for its citrus and is the third largest growing region in Australia. From oranges, grapefruits, tangelos, limes, mandarins and lemons to coffee and olive oil, taste the Flavours of the Riverland at a tasting café and provedore. Alternatively, purchase local, seasonal fruits from one of the region's many road-side fruit stalls like the colourful Aggies Fresh Fruit Stall. From the fertile soils of the Riverland, Twenty Third Street Distillery produce an innovative array of spirits using the local citrus and flora under the roof of Renmark’s century-old landmark. Stop in for a gin flight, blending class or distillery tour or be sure to check out the region's other food and drink options.
3. stargazing in the riverland
Although only a two-hour drive to the Riverland from Adelaide, the night sky is one of the darkest and best places to see the stars. It’s a wholesome experience that people in bustling cities can only dream or read about, but with the fresh river air and accompanying birdsong, this late-night entertainment is a program highlight! View our guide to stargazing in South Australia for more information.
4. kayak or canoe the murray river
The Riverland is home to numerous backwaters, creeks and lagoons which are best explored by canoe or kayak. Weave your way into the narrow wetlands and take picnic supplies for a tranquil waterfront lunch where kangaroos, emus, koalas, goannas and birds will be your only company. For the intrepid, go on a self-guided 'canoe camping' expedition with Canoe Adventures to spend more time in nature learning about the river’s biodiversity.
5. bird watching
Birdsong is the beating heart of the Riverland thanks to its network of national parks and protected wetlands. The Murray River is blessed with a stunning variety of unique bird life with over 200 species in the area. For the serious twitcher, study the Waikerie Bird Watcher’s trail to know where to spot White-plumed Honeyeaters, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Fairy-Wren or Red-capped Robins, just to name a few. Banrock Station Wetlands has a boardwalk which offers brilliant viewing of bird hides situated along the way; a great way to see birdlife for those who are unlikely to travel the world on a quest to become a professional twitcher!
6. fishing in the murray river
Fishing in the Murray River can be a rewarding experience with the lure of a metre Murray Cod. Catching the largest native freshwater fish may be exciting but to help protect the population number and increase their regeneration, it’s required to release without the hook immediately after you catch. Other fish include callop, catfish, redfin and trout. If you catch a carp, do not return it to the water as they are a pest to the ecosystem. Cast a line from the back of your houseboat, from one of the jetties, or simply from your base camp on the banks of the mighty Murray! Check out our guide to fishing in South Australia.
7. camping on the murray river
One of the most common and loved ways to enjoy the river is camping with friends and family. Spend a day finding your perfect patch under the red gum-lined riverbanks or go off the beaten track and explore the untouched environments in one of the Riverland national parks. Camp by still waters at Chowilla Game Reserve or in Australia’s first Biosphere Reserve, Danggali Conservation Park and Wilderness Protection Area. Always remember to leave our environment cleaner than you found it. Check out our guide for dog friendly camping locations including the Riverland and our 6 best camping spots in South Australia.
8. dinghy derby
The Riverland's Dinghy Derby is the wildest boat race on the river. Since 1981 the Dinghy Derby draws crowds from near and far to watch drivers and navigators peel past snags, hidden logs and various course obstacles. The highly regarded championship is a test of stamina, physical and mental fitness, boat design, propellers and speed. The championship race is held on the first Sunday of every February and the Derby caps off a weekend of high adrenaline racing on water and high-spirited socialising on land.
9. murray river walk
The Murray River Walk is one of the most immersive ways to discover the magic of the Riverland over four days and three nights. The guided walking journey reveals a new part of the river each day with your houseboat accommodation cruising to your starting point after your night on the river. With small group sizes, expert guides and all meals and snacks prepared for you, there’s nothing left to do apart from soak in the impressive views and the soul of the Riverland over the 40km walk.
10. Riverland sunrises and sunsets
The red-ochre cliffs that bend their way along the river are best viewed at sunrise or sunset. When the light hits the cliffs, the limestone turns into towering golden curtains that give way to calm, glassy waters. Flocks of Pelicans are dwarfed by the impressive walls of the golden rock face, but the stillness is only amplified by the sounds of birdlife. Headings Cliff near Paringa (an Aboriginal word meaning “big bend in the river”) is a great place to see the cliffs, but we recommend feeling the imposing cliffs from the waterline by houseboat or kayak.
Enjoy the Riverland throughout all seasons where the winter is mild and the summers warm. Cosy up by campfire or cool off by swinging from the ropes into the mighty Murray. There’s always something brewing in the region whether it be freshly ground Arrosto Coffee or the new blooms at the Riverland Rose Festival.