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Riverland Relaxation

Sun Setting Over the Murray
Sun Setting Over the Murray
The Riverland in South Australia seems almost like it could be custom designed for a campervan holiday. Picture this: rolling countryside divided into a patchwork of lush orchards, where exotic fruits such as olives, citrus, garlic, apricots and grapes hang off the vine and branch. Splitting the region in two is the mighty Murray River, which flows past high limestone cliffs and expansive wetlands, breathing life into the fertile soils and giving character to the countryside. A number of small towns in the Riverland provide bases for the fruit and fresh produce industry (one of the biggest in Australia), and it is in these that you can find hospitable caravan parks to base your campervan hire in. The scenic riches around you and the laid back, accommodating atmosphere in the towns will ensure that your tour of the Riverland is one you'd like to repeat again and again.

The Riverland extends for 300 kilometres, marked at each end by the townships of Waikerie and Renmark. The former is the closest to Adelaide, and is reached by an easy two and a half hours drive from there- an easy drive through picturesque countryside. At the centre of the region is Barmera, which is the biggest town in the Riverland and undoubtedly the commercial centre. At 221 kilometres from Adelaide, its a bit far for a daytrip- but just perfect for a weekend away!

Barmera sits on the shores of Lake Bonney, and water sports enthusiasts take full advantage of this fact. On any given day the lake's horizon will be dotted with the sails of boats and windsurfers and boats towing wakeboarders, water-skiers and other strange inflatable contraptions regularly zoom past. Yacht races are regularly organised, attracting crowds of enthusiasts and spectators. The lake is big enough that there are still areas of peace and quiet where anglers can try their luck with the many species of fish lurking beneath the surface. If you can tear yourself away from the lake there are a number of fun ways to entertain yourself in the town. A favourite place to visit is the Rocky Country Music Hall of Fame, which was established to honour local country legend Dean 'Rocky' Page. Inside is a huge collection of memorabilia and instruments, commemorating all the Australian greats such as Slim Dusty.

On your tour of the region Waikerie is a town you should definitely call into. It gives the impression of a place where nobody takes themselves too seriously- probably helped along by the fact that all the garbage cans in town are the shape of oranges! As it is an internationally recognised destination for hang gliders, on any given day the skies are dotted with these large, silent planes gliding high above the surface. A number of majestic old sandstone buildings on the main street add to its character, and you can find out all about the town and the surrounding attractions at the Orange Tree Information Centre, located right on the Sturt highway. A trip to the Scenic Lookout is especially enthralling- perched atop high cliffs it offers stunning views of the Murray River.

Travelling through Australia you may have seen the 'Berri' insignia on various fruit juice products. Well, the town of Berri is in the Riverlands, and its the source of all these tasty juices. A visit to the town will take you past the 'Big Orange', the ubiquitous tourist attraction that commemorates the main local industry- which here is of course the citrus and fruit industry. There s a tower and a museum, and great views from the top of the 'orange'! After a visit there head on to Berri Ltd, where their products are for sale, and you can find out the process fruit goes through from the vine to the juice bottle!

Of course you cannot visit the Riverlands without indulging in the feature that gives the region its name - the Murray River. Whether its enjoying a barbeque on the grassy banks under the a shady tree, or hiring a boat and some fishing rods and getting out for a bit of fishing, the Murray is the perfect place to recharge and forget about all of your stresses. Houseboats are also a popular form of escape on its wide and smooth waters, and a great way to finish off a day is with an evening cruise- nothing beats watching the sun go down with a drink in hand, serenely floating down the river.

Thats actually a good word to sum up the whole Riverland region- serene. Its a place big enough to see something new everyday, but small enough that you dont have to travel too far in your campervan for a change of scene. There's plenty of places to stay, every town has its share of caravan and tourist parks. So forget about your worries and head to the Riverland for that break youve been craving all this time!

Gavin Wyatt

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