The Riverland is located right on the border of SA, NSW and VIC. The Murray River weaves through it, creating creeks, lagoons and wetlands that are perfect for canoeists, bird watchers and water skiers. The region has a population of 30,000 and 90% of South Australia’s citrus and stone fruits are grown there, as well as about half of the state’s grapes. Ruins of internment camps that used to hold Japanese, German or Italian people during World War 2 are located in Loveday, which is just south of Barmera.
The week we were there, the weather was ridiculous. It was disgustingly hot with a torturous sun beating down and cooking the Riverland to the mid-40s. Everytime we commented on the heat to a local, they’d guffaw and say, “You think this is hot! Try 55 degrees! It’s not uncommon this time of year.” We spent as much time as possible wearing as little as possible.
The car would heat up and be very toasty for the rest of the day, and into the night. The two nights that we slept in the Troopy at Plushs Bend and Martin’s Bend, we tossed and turned in puddles of our own sweat.
A sleepy little town with the Pioneer Museum that never seems to be open. The bins are shaped like oranges, and there is a great shoreside park right next to Lake Bonney. The Woolworths is decorated with a long-legged jetty over the entrance, complete with pelicans, birds and barrels.
A beautiful winery just outside of Barmera near Kingston on Murray. They have been operational for over ten years and take pride in producing great, value-for-money wines and promoting conservation. Their balcony overlooks restored wetlands and they donate money to environmental projects every time you purchase a Banrock Station wine. They also use recycled cardboard for their goon boxes.
We had a great tasting session while we gazed out of the giant windows over the wetlands. Here are the notes for our favourites:
- 2012 White Shiraz – a pretty pink wine that smelt of strawberry and citrus but was smooth and creamy on entry yet still refreshing and clean to finish. We loved it and bought a cask.
- Frizzante – a pale straw wine with tropical fruits and lots of refreshing fizz. It was sweet with lychee and deliciously refreshing.
- Crimson Cabernet – a beautiful crimson magenta with the sweet scent of raspberries and currants. It was sweet with a slight dryness which makes it perfect with cheeses and Asian food. It had a long sweet finish and while we wanted to buy a bottle of this as well, we had the strength to walk away.
Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park
A haven for 4WD enthusists and offroad addicts, Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park offers a playground, tour track, tavern and riverside camping. Check out our post on Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park.
Berri Visitor Information Centre – Riverview Drive, 08 8582 5511
Berri started off as a fueling stop for paddle steamers and was officially named a town in 1911. The name of the town is taken from the Aboriginal word beri beri, which means bend in the river. It is the home of Berri Juices, with plenty of surrounding orchards, and there are heaps of fresh fruit outlets on the side of the road, offering a box of nectarines for only $6 or melons for 99 cents each.
We thought this was the birthplace of the goon bag, but while they are possibly the biggest winery in Australia, they weren’t the first to think of the goon. We had a lovely chat with the host while she poured wine for tasting. Here are our favourites:
- 2012 Haughtons Chardonnay – a pale yellow wine with tinges of green, it had a slight buttery smell that was matched with a creamy entry enlivened with citrus. The warm finish was ripe with almonds, peach, apricot and coconut.
- 2012 Hardys R&R Shiraz – a rich garnet wine with ruby red, there were dark berries and plum on the nose. A medium bodied wine with hints of oak that were soft on the mouth.
Monash Adventure Park
A huge playground with an interesting history. It was built by a local guy called Grant Telfer back in the 1960s, but after a kid broke their arm in 1992 and he got sued, the playground was shut and torn down. It was reopened in 1996 sporting new equipment that was ‘less dangerous’ but everyone keeps talking about how good the ‘old’ playground was.
Entry is free and it’s open between 10am – 5pm. There’s a wood fence maze, Burmese Rope Bridge, giant swings, BBQ facilities, two leaning towers and BBQ/picnic facilities – great family fun.
The Big Orange
While this Big Thing is currently closed, it is still visible from the road. Check out our post on the Big Orange.
Renmark Paringa Visitor Centre – 84 Murray Avenue, 1300 661 704
A very neat town with manicured parks and pristine riverside, but we found the people there to be suspicious and unhelpful. We wanted to go to the library to do some blogging, but there were no power-points available for use – they had all been covered up! We had to drive back to Berri to finish our work. One of the good things about Renmark is the dump point. It has a potable water tap, just in case you needed to prevent yourself from shrivelling up in the heat.
Renmark started as a settlement in 1887 and is the oldest irrigation settlement in the Riverland. The name comes from the Aboriginal word that means ‘red mud’ and it was found that combining irrigation with the red soil produced conditions similar to California. Renmark officially became a town in 1904.
Angove wines have been about since 1886, when Dr William Angove established a winery in Tea Tree Gully, northeast of Adelaide. By the time of his death in 1912, winemaking had become a family business and his son took the family winemaking tradition to the Riverland.
Angoves is the inventor of the cask wine, the home of St Agnes Brandy and they also produce Stone’s Green Ginger Wine. After a great tasting session, five drops were our favourites:
- Long Row Pinot Grigio – gentle champagne yellow with a sweet floral and fruity smell. It has a smooth entry that was rounded and finished with toasty apple.
- 2011 Organic Chardonnay – pale yellow that smelt savoury, like bread and cheese. It was smooth and creamy with spice, lemon and cantaloupe.
- 2012 Long Row Merlot – ruby and purple hues with a cherry and current aroma, it was rich with forest fruits and cedar. A full-bodied wine that smooths out to a butter finish.
- Bookmark Crème All Uovo – formally known as Marsala, it was rich golden brown with a stewed apple and cinnamon aroma. It was smooth and delicious with lots of warm apple. Absolutely beautiful – we got a bottle!
- Reserve Tones Green Ginger Wine – caramel gold with the scent of ginger, it was smooth and thick like honey but still biting and spicy of vibrant ginger.
This young winery was established in 1969 by Greek winemakers to came to Australia in search of a better life. The Mallee Estate Wine label was created in 1998 and since then, they have had lots of success in China with numerous awards.
We had a quick session and enjoyed two wines in particular:
- 2008 Tempranillo – with a subtle smell of American oak, it was warm with dark plums and cherries with a honey nut finish that was smooth and sweet and long lasting.
- 2007 Shiraz – aged in a new barrel, it had warm wooded characteristics with a smooth entry and clean finish. It was very light without any abrasive spices or tannins.
BIG4 Renmark Riverfront Holiday Park – Sturt Hwy, 08 8586 6315