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.
2. Relax in luxury
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. If you can pull yourself away from your riverside paradise, The Frames offers personalised wildlife tours through river estuaries where native birds, koalas, kangaroos and sometimes echidna are spotted, or champagne-infused sunset cruises in a restored 1929 wooden gondola. Hungry? Let your tastebuds (and your chauffeur driver) lead the way on The Flavour Safari where you’ll meet the region’s leading growers, brewers, winemakers and producers, and taste their goods of course! Check out more Riverland accommodation options here.
3. 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. If beer’s more your style, head for Woolshed Brewing for a local brew, wine down at Caudo Vineyard just outside Waikerie or head to Loxton's Salena Estate where an award-winning drop and lunch at the on-site restaurant Cucina 837 awaits. Be sure to check out the region's other food and drink options.
4. 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.
5. 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 or jump on a sunset kayak tour with Canoe the Riverland to spend more time in nature learning about the river’s biodiversity.
6. 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!
7. 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.
8. 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. Or camp in the midst of the action at Barmera’s Loveday 4x4 Adventure Park. Here, you can pitch your tent riverside then explore the 8,000 acre private adventure park. Put your 4wd through its paces on the off-road, varied terrain track or hit the water and captain your own adventure on a jet ski, exploring secluded backwaters and streams. Afterwards, join the locals and refuel at the onsite Loveday Tavern. 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.
9. Live like a local
Riverland locals will tell you their corner of South Australia is paradise, and we can’t argue with that. So, live like a local and experience this watery wonderland through their eyes and cosy up at your very own riverside home. Shack up in style at The River Block, where a private lagoon awaits. Soak in fairy-floss sunsets from the porch and gaze at the lagoon’s still reflection as you try to work out where the water ends, and sky begins. For more river-side accommodation check out River Shack Rentals, with properties like 22 Old Murbko Road dotted down the river from Murray Bridge to Renmark.
10. Experience the murray river with a local
Speaking of locals, recruiting the expertise and knowledge of a local guide is one of the most immersive ways to discover the magic of the Riverland. With three authentic tour options, the team at Murray River Trails will ensure your experience every facet of life on the river. Set off on the Murray River Safari and spend three days canoeing, bush walking, bird-watching and creek cruising. Or wander along the banks of the mighty Murray over four days on the Murray River Walk. Covering 40km of pristine Riverland, 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. You can even customise your own Murray River Escape and take as long as you like to meander along the twists and turns of the river. All three Murray River Trails tour options are eco-certified, so there’s nothing left to do apart from soak in the impressive views and the soul of the Riverland.
BONUS: 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.
Explore the Riverland
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. Here's our three-day Riverland itinerary to continue your riverside exploration.