Mount Remarkable-Adelaide-Barossa-Riverlands, SA
After the Eyre Peninsula we zigzagged our way through country SA and have been impressed by the diversity in the changing landscape. But we have to admit that we were most excited about getting to and exploring along the Mighty Murray River.A place well worth a mention is Mount Remarkable National Park in the southern Flinders Ranges. The camping at Mambray Creek was tops and we got our first taste of inland SA.
We really enjoyed looking around the city of Adelaide, visiting the beaches, farmers markets, the hills, and the outer lying German heritage towns. We got such a good feel from Adelaide and surrounds! For us the city was green, bushy, clean, had a nice pace and a modern feel but with a mixture of historical looking buildings. Plus a short drive from the city and you’re in the country, which is nice! The photo you see on the left was our German pub lunch in Hahndorf, and believe it or not we ate it all because it was soooooo goooood (and I didn’t need dinner that night).
After Adelaide we diverted from our trip to the Flinders Ranges when we saw the temperature was set to climb into the 40’s, and instead turned south to the Yorke Peninsula for the cooler temps. I appreciated the heritage townships with quaint old style buildings and antique stores, making me feel like I had stepped back in time and Dave appreciated doing a jetty hop from town to town for the fishing opportunities.
Next we meandered up through the Clare Valley and into the Barossa area. There is plenty of family history for me here. It’s where my German ancestors settled in the early 1800’s – the Kroemer and Schrapel families arrived in South Australia (at different times) from Silesia and both went onto establish the early vineyards in the region. Dave and I have been here before, so this time we were just passing through to visit family before making our way to Mannum to begin our long awaited journey to follow the Murray River.
As we dotted our way along the Murray we were excited to find that there’s free camping the whole way. It’s easy to find secluded spots on the rivers edge, surrounded by red river gums and willow trees. So we spent a couple of weeks finding stellar spots, where we enjoyed the bird life, swam and fished the day away. A lot can be said for just how good it feels to simply soak up the quietness and peacefulness of sitting by a river.
You might remember us getting into cooking with our camp oven? Well, we felt like something sweet for afternoon tea one day but with the total fire ban and therefore no camp oven, we decided to experiment with ‘baking’ a chocolate cake in a saucepan. Well to our surprise it turned out to be REALLY delicious! It was cooked to perfection and we also melted drinking chocolate in with a little hot water to make icing. We broke it in half getting it out of the saucepan in our haste to eat it, so it’s not pretty, but it tasted amazing. We’ve actually make it a couple times now…
We were particularity excited to visit the Murray River because large stretches of it is lined with forests of the red river gum which we both love! It has smooth bark, ranging in colour from white and grey to a mixture of red, orange, pink and brown, which is shed in long ribbons. The gum grows straight under favourable conditions, but can develop twisted and gnarly branches in drier conditions – every Oz photographers dream. We never got sick of pointing out the various gums that caught our eye and can really appreciate how they inspire artists to paint them.
As we dotted our way along the Murray we realised just how much this region thrives from living by the river. The surrounding climate is hot and dry but this river breathes life in the area by sustaining townships and a huge amount of agriculture. Particularly the Riverland region with major enterprises include wine grapes, citrus, stone fruit, almonds, vegetables all of which have a high dependence on irrigation, with wineries, packing sheds and other food processing reliant on a consistent supply of irrigated crops. Is this why it’s given the name The Mighty Murray? Or is it because it’s Australia’s longest river in length? Either way we agree.
We were also keen to explore the Riverland because it’s where my Mum and Dad are from. Both lived in the little town of Loxton situated on the Murray and were brought up on fruit blocks with orange orchards, vineyards and stone fruits. Both of my grandpa’s received soldier’s settlement land packages here after WWII and it’s where they started their family and farming lives. Both started with bare land and a settler’s nissan hut, building it all up themselves – admirable!
While in Loxton we visited my Dad’s cousin Sue who welcomed us, let us stay on their fruit block, organised a family get together and showed us around. Sue and Denis drove Dave and I around the whole of the area pointing out the blocks where Mum, Dad and other family used to live, and told us funny stories about their mischievous childhoods. Fortunately someone who grew up with Dad now owns his home block, so we dropped in for a look. The original nissan hut that my Nana and Pop lived in, and the shed they built when they first settled, are still there and apparently look exactly the same after all these years!
To top off our Mighty Murray experience, we did an overnight kayaking trip near Renmark and loved it so much. We paddled over 20kms along the river and meandering through the off-shoot creeks and lagoons. We thought we already had a good feel of the river, but really – there’s nothing like experiencing a river by being on the water. We idled the day away paddling, swimming and exploring. Our camp on the sandy bank that night was divine. The river gums, remoteness and sunset on the water blew us away.
Although – after a peaceful afternoon we did have a multi-story touring houseboat with 15 people pull in right next to us. We were surprised to say the least, but they jumped out and were quick to explain that they were just having a walk and dinner before taking off. Then they softened the blow by offering us to join them for dinner. Well – we thought if you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em. We put on our best clothes (okay our only clothes) and hopped on board. It was strange to go from sitting on the ground in the bush and expecting to cook a simple pasta for tucker, to end up at one of the fancy dinner tables on the boat with a fantastic feast in front of us. But we were not complaining! PLUS we got to cuddle a baby koala they were nursing because he’d fallen out of a tree. This made my day – no week – no month…you get the idea. He was ultra fluffy and cute! Check out our slideshow from the kayaking trip below: