SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S KEY HOUSEBOAT LAUNCH TOWNS
There are seven main departure points for a wide range of houseboats for hire along the Murray River in SA. Blanchetown: 130km northeast of Adelaide This quiet, informal holiday town is made up of unpretentious river shacks. It offers uncrowded waterways, sheltered river bends and sandy banks popular with water-skiers in summer.
Blanchetown is where the River Murray’s lock and weir waterflow management system starts. The old bridge in the town gives an excellent view of Lock 1 and circling above are hundreds of pelicans that love to feed on the schools of fish near the spillway.
Blanchetown’s towering cliffs are famous for the grand views and fossilised treasures such as starfish, shells and fish. Visitor information: 8540 5453. Mannum: 100km east of Adelaide Mannum has an attractive riverfront and excellent recreational facilities, including Mary Ann Reserve, home to a playground, boat ramp, picnic tables and kiosk.
Visitors can hire water skis, jet skis, canoes, knee-boarding equipment or simply fish. Mannum’s attractive main street has an art gallery, antiques, craft and bric-a-brac shops with a good choice of cafes and hotels, including the award-winning Pretoria Hotel, offering riverfront dining.
There are several scenic and historic walks in the town and nearby Mannum Falls has easy and moderate level tracks passing
A houseboat holiday at berth near Mannum winter-flowing waterfalls, abundant birdlife and interesting rock formations. Visitor information: 1300 626 686. Morgan: 163km northeast of Adelaide An historic town and popular holiday shack retreat on the river for Adelaide residents seeking relaxation and water sports.
At the height of the paddle-steamer era, Morgan was the busiest inland port in the state and has preserved its history with flair.
For the water enthusiast, there is a boat ramp for launching your watercraft. Cruise with views of majestic cliffs that change from side to side as the river meanders – and remember to slow down for the ferry. Visitor information: 8540 2643. Murray Bridge: 75km east of Adelaide The largest town on the Murray (in SA) is a good base for watersports, boating and fishing with several cruise operators also based here. Pedestrians can take the 5km Rail and River Walk which takes in the town’s major historic sites or the 79km Federation Trail, which meanders to Tungkillo. Attractions include Dundee’s Wildlife Park, Sturt Reserve and Bunyip. Visitor information: 1800 442 784. Renmark: 253km northeast of Adelaide Upstream from Renmark you can escape into national parks. There are majestic cliffs to survey or travel upstream to the old Customs House, now a general store or to the Victorian border.
With wide stretches of river, Renmark is a water sport playground and houseboats can moor in front of the Renmark Club and dine on the riverfront. Visitor information: 1300 661 704. Paringa: 256km northeast of Adelaide Sitting on the eastern edge of the Riverland, this small town is on the opposite side of the river to Renmark.
The Paringa Suspension Bridge is one of just four still spanning the Murray and it still carries B-double trucks as part of the Sturt Highway. You can moor your houseboat at Bert Dix Park and walk into town for supplies. Visitor information: 1300 661 704. Waikerie: 174km northeast of Adelaide You’ll find one of the longest stretches of accessible riverbank here and the wide river makes it popular for water sports and fishing. Visitor information: 8541 2332.