If you’re heading into South Australia from NSW, Renmark is the first major river town you’ll come to. And with another 250 or so kilometres to Adelaide, Renmark is a great spot to break your trip and get to know a true Murray River town.
Before you head into Renmark, take a right onto Murtho Road, just past Paringa, and head out to Heading Cliff Lookout Tower (15km). This elevated tower offers stunning views up and down the Murray. It’s a popular place for photographers, and when the light is right, the Golden Limestone Cliffs glow against the rich scrub, the mellow green of the river and the cobalt skies. It’s the perfect place to stretch your legs, get the blood flowing and bask in the beauty of the riverland.
A few minutes further up the Sturt Highway on the left is Lock 5 Road. Lock 5, built in the 1920s, is still in operation, regulating the flow and water level of the Murray River, allowing vessels to pass through. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch one. Otherwise, this is a lovely place to stop for a picnic.
Also on the eastern side of the bridge is the Renmark Paringa Community Museum. Run by volunteers, this quirky museum is home to farm machinery, engines, pumps, trucks and farming implements from years gone by. Take a stroll around and marvel at what the early settlers had to work with. The kids will love having a splash in the working water pumps, so be prepared for a slightly soggy trip into Renmark.
Once in Renmark, stop in at the Visitor Information Centre. As well as the usual brochures and bookings, the information centre is also home to a free interpretive centre and historical displays. Time your visit for the first Sunday of each month and take a cruise on the Murray aboard the PS Industry, a recommissioned 1911 paddle steamer.
If you really want to get to know the Murray River, why not climb into a kayak (or canoe) and go exploring? Canoe the Riverland offers self-guided or guided tours through the wetlands and backwaters, allowing you to experience the tranquillity and beauty of the Murray River from the waters themselves. With simple day rates, and everything included (just bring a packed lunch), this experience is suitable for everyone, even if you’ve never been kayaking before.
Green thumbs will be excited by Ruston’s Roses (Moorna Street). Wander through the grandeur of the National Rose Collection of Australia: with more than 50,000 bushes across 4,000 varieties over 26 acres, this is a rose garden like no other. What’s more, the delicious, intoxicating aroma of roses (often lost when roses are grown indoors) will accompany you as you stroll around the plantings. Take time out for lunch or a coffee at the café.
For the convenience of undercover parking at the door, stay at the Econo Lodge Citrus Valley. Only a short walk down the road to the Murray River (stroll up to the Paringa Bridge, which opens twice a day to let river traffic pass, and come back at dusk to watch the possums gambol about on the banks), and right next door to Renmark Plaza, this quintessential riverland town hotel is the perfect place to unwind. Choose from 25 ground floor rooms, take a refreshing and revitalising swim in the pool, and even freshen up your suitcase with the guest laundry facilities. Plus, wireless broadband is available free in every room. With cosy quarters and so much to see and do, you may want to stay an extra night.