South Australia

    The Mighty Murray Way

    June 20, 2019Glenn Marshall

    7 min read

    The Mighty Murray Way follows the Murray River as it winds its way from Renmark to Hindmarsh Island on Lake Alexandrina. With the landscape continuously changing and encompassing stunning river cliffs, billabongs, townships, wildlife, paddleboats, wineries, distilleries, microbreweries and ferries, this is the perfect way to explore South Australia the relaxed way.

    I was following the route in reverse, having spent a few days exploring Victor Harbor and Goolwa. The Mighty Murray Way sign indicated that the end of the route was at Sugars Beach on Hindmarsh Island, but I had other ideas. I wanted to start at the mouth of the Murray River, and with a 4WD I was able to reach the mouth easily from Goolwa Beach, so it was from here that my trip began.

    4WD only at the river mouth

    in my mind the route should start at the Murray mouth

    Tracking around the western side of Lake Alexandrina, my first stop was in the wine region of Langhorne Creek. Well known for producing some of Australia’s best Shiraz, I was happy to find a great tasting Tempranillo at the small family run Angas Plains Estate.

    Crossing the Murray at Wellington via the ferry, just one of many on this trail, I filled up with cheap fuel at Tailem Bend. A dust storm appeared as I reached Murray Bridge making it difficult to photograph the historic 1879 bridge. The drive to Mannum was a real challenge in the dust with visibility down to a few metres. My lights were on and speed dropped as seeing approaching vehicles was near impossible until the last minute.

    I love that you can catch so many ferries across the Murray in SA

    As I departed the Mannum Dock Museum aboard the PW Mayflower paddleboat, rain washed away the dust, then suddenly, we had warming sunlight. The Mayflower is South Australia’s oldest paddleboat built in 1884 and as you cruise, the whistling kites circle overhead and the pelicans float by.

    Back on terra firma, I explored Mary Anne Reserve where you’ll discover a memorial to Captain Charles Sturt who passed by here in February 1830 on his exploration of the Murray River by boat. There’s also a tree highlighting river heights from floods gone by. The Information Centre is the place to go for anything you need to know and is extremely helpful.

    Cruising the river on an old paddleboat is a great way to explore

    A short drive from Mannum is Mannum Falls. No water was flowing this early in the year, it’d be awesome after some good rainfall. There are two car parks, the first one you’ll come across is at the bottom and the second is a few hundred metres further along that brings you in above the falls. There’s a walking track between the carparks that offers great views of the stunning geology.

    Mannum Falls in the dry

    The geological features of the Mannum Falls are stunning

    Utilising the ferry at Mannum, I followed the Murray along the picturesque E Front Road through Younghusband then Hunter Road to Walker Flat. I wanted to check out the free campsite on the other side of the river (cracking spot), and ferry here enabled me to do that. Returning the same way, I tracked to Swan Reach and on to Blanchetown to check out Weir #1.

    The Murraylands Road is the ‘back road’ to Morgan and is gravel most of the way. Now Morgan is a town that many travellers bypass on their way to the Flinders Ranges. It’s certainly a great place to set up camp for a day or two to explore the area. Morgan Riverside Caravan Park is the perfect place to stay and it meant I could wander about the town easily on foot.

    Morgan has many historical sites to explore

    Morgan has many historical sites to explore

    The Historic Port and Railway Station is a great way to start, and there’s a lot of work going on to restore the towering wharf, once one of the busiest in South Australia. There’s also a playground to occupy the kids.

    Another ‘must see’ is the nearby Caudo Vineyard as it’s one of the funkiest wineries I’ve ever experienced. Discovering their focus is on Spanish wine really made me smile.

    Spectacular wines and each handmade label has its own story

    As well as a great range of tasty wines, including Sangria, you can enjoy the ambience with a homecooked pizza available Tuesday to Sunday. With entertainment on busy weekends and even celebrating ‘Day of the Dead in October, this is one winery you’ll never forget.

    Not far from Caudo Vineyard is Waikerie, where you can enjoy birdwatching at Gluepot Reserve, the Rotary clifftop walk, water sports and the magnificent silo art murals painted on both sides of the Waikerie silos.

    Silo murals in South Australia

    Jumping on the Sturt Highway, there are still several places to visit and explore. Check out Banrock Station Wine & Wetland Centre, water activities and camping in Loch Luna Game Reserve near Kingston on the Murray and Lake Bonney at Barmera.

    A detour south off the Sturt will take you to Loxton where you’ll discover the Loxton Historical Village and if you’re after a cracking burger with a difference, Here’s Your Beer Burger Bar is the place to be.

    Berri is the final town before Renmark and another great spot on the Murray to sit and relax for a few days. Picnic at Martin’s Bend Reserve, canoe the Murray with Canoe Adventures Riverland, sample some ethically made wines at 919 Wines or crank up the adrenaline at Loveday 4x4 Park.

    Heritage listed log cabin

    OLivewood Historic Homestead, The wooden floored log cabin is heritage listed

    As you drive into Renmark and complete the Mighty Murray Way, check out 23rd Street Distillery before exploring the Olivewood Historic Homestead, built in the 1880s for Charles Chaffey who with his brothers, helped establish the irrigation towns of Renmark and Mildura.

    Down at the port, you will find the Murray River Queen complete with restaurant, cellar door, public bar and accommodation. From the nearby information centre, you can enjoy a Sunday cruise aboard the PS Industry, complete with Devonshire tea.

    The Murray River Queen

    The Murray River Queen is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the location

    Where to Stay

    Morgan Riverside Caravan Park, located on the banks of the Murray River, offers plenty of accommodation options that will suit everyone including low-cost cabins, ensuite cabins, powered and unpowered sites. The caravan park was quite busy with caravanners and I can see why.

    Morgan Riverside caravan park

    The camp kitchen is a great set up and being right next to the pool, you can keep a close eye on the kids while cooking on the BBQs. The sites are nicely grassed and big enough to not feel like sardines when the park is full. Pets are also welcome. Being so close to the river, it’s perfect for canoeing, paddle boarding, fishing and boating. You’ll love your time spent here.

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