For everything about the MURRAYLANDS you are in the right place. From getting there, to places to visit, to the best accommodation this article summarises all your needs for the MURRAYLANDS.
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The Murraylands is one of the most interesting and enticing areas of South Australia. As the name suggests, it’s located around the mouth of the mighty Murray River (Australia’s longest river!), in the south-east of South Australia. Stretching from the Victorian border in the east, to the gorgeous Coorong in the west, sandwiched between the Limestone Coast and the Riverland district, the Murraylands is both easily accessible and packed with stuff to see and do.
The Murraylands are the traditional home of the Ngarrindjeri Nation, and was settled by Europeans in the 1840s. Today, it’s home to over 60,000 people, with more than a third of them in the regional city of Murray Bridge. It’s slightly cooler here than in Adelaide, which makes it a great spot to escape the city heat, though it’s also slightly wetter as well.
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Getting To The Murraylands
As with much of South Australia, it’s easiest to get in and get around with your own transport (need car hire, click here). The Overland train service (which runs three times a week between Adelaide and Melbourne) stops at Murray Bridge, and there’s daily coach services from Adelaide to Murray Bridge as well, but to really explore the Murraylands you’ll need a car.
So, if you’re intrigued by this fascinating and under-visited slice of South Australia, read on to discover the best Murraylands attractions, things to do, and much more!
Centred on Australia’s biggest river, many of the best Murraylands attractions naturally focus on the water, and on the river itself. Let’s have a look at some of the highlights!
The Coorong is a large lagoon ecosystem that’s located along the southern coastline of South Australia. It runs for about 130 kilometres from the Murray Mouth in the north-west, most of the way to Kingston SE on the Limestone Coast. It’s a gorgeous area of lagoons and marshes, separated from the ocean by sand dunes, and is an important habitat for fish and birds. Exploring the Coorong National Park is a real treat, with fantastic camping, fishing, kayaking, hiking, bird-watching, and more on offer. It’s also famous as the setting for the classic Australian novel Storm Boy (and the subsequent film adaptations).
As a large freshwater lake fed by the mighty Murray, Lake Alexandrina is another paradise for water lovers. Boating, fishing, sailing, kayaking, swimming, and water skiing are all popular activities on the lake. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as well; Lake Alexandrina is home to many species including water birds, turtles, and lots of fish.
Take A River Cruise
Naturally there’s some great options for cruising on the Murray River. For short journeys of 1-2 hours, check out Four Knots Murray River Cruises or Proud Mary, while 2-5 day river cruises are also available on the Murray Princess and Paddle Steamer Marion. Most boats depart from either Murray Bridge or from Mannum, a 20 minute drive upriver.
Moving away from the water, one of the most popular attractions in the entire Murraylands region is the Monarto Zoo, officially known as Monarto Safari Park. This large, open-range zoo has over 50 different species of animals, including iconic Australian classics like wallabies and Tasmanian devils, along with African favourites like giraffes, cheetahs, rhinos, lions, and chimpanzees. They also offer close-up experiences with several animals, which can be a real treat. Further information including Monarto Zoo tickets and Monarto Zoo prices are available on their official website.
Tailem Bend Motorsport Park
Roaring engines and screeching tyres aren’t normally things you’d associate with the tranquil Murray River, but the town of Tailem Bend is home to Australia’s newest racing track. Officially known as The Bend Motorsport Park, the Tailem Bend race track opened in 2019 on the former site of Mitsubishi’s Australian test track. Tailem Bend is a venue for Australia’s Supercars championship, and also hosts other events like drag racing, and go-karting. For a real adrenaline rush, they offer a variety of racing experiences from doing laps yourself in a V8 Ford Mustang, to a high-octane ride on a 1000cc Superbike.
Murray Bridge Bunyip
Murray Bridge is the largest regional city in the area, and one of the best things to do in Murray Bridge is visit the Murray Bridge bunyip. The bunyip is a mythological Aboriginal Dreamtime creature that’s half-man, half-fish, and is said to lurk in rivers and waterways. Young children were warned that swimming alone or fishing too greedily would attract the bunyip, teaching both water safety and respect for the river systems. These days, a colourful bunyip statue watches over the Murray River at Sturt Reserve in the regional city of Murray Bridge. It’s a beautiful and peaceful spot for a picnic.
Murraylands Road Trips
There’s some great opportunities for exploring the Murraylands in your own vehicle. Below we’ll take a look at one of the best road trips in the Murray area.
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3 Days In The Murraylands - Loop From Adelaide
Starting from central Adelaide, spend 90 minutes in the car heading south to Goolwa, just near Victor Harbor (technically the Fleurieu Peninsula). Here you’ll find the Murray Mouth lookout, where Australia’s largest river system meets the ocean. Take a boat cruise around Hindmarsh Island, before jumping back in the car and exploring Coorong National Park (north end). One great option is to kayak Coorong, getting up close and personal with Coorong animals and plants. Camp overnight in the national park.
The next day travel around and enjoy the views of Lake Alexandrina, crossing the Murray River on the ferry at Wellington before heading to Meningie and the Coorong National Park (south end). There is a lot to enjoy and explore at this end of the Coorong. Again camp in the beautiful national park ready for your last day.
Retrace your steps back towards Tailem Bend. Drop by the Motorsport Park to indulge your wild side. Finally, wrap things up with a tour of Monarto Safari Park before heading back to Adelaide, exhausted but happy!
As with most large areas, there’s quite a variety of accommodation available. Below are some of the many options on offer!
For Murray Bridge accommodation, consider Adelaide Road Motor Lodge, or Parklane Motel. And for a boutique option, Strathalbyn Gasworks B&B is located in Strathalbyn, closer to Lake Alexandrina. Speaking of Lake Alexandrina accommodation, Washpool Retreat, in Wellington East, is a fantastic choice, located right where the Murray meets the Lake. And finally, for Tailem Bend accommodation it’s hard to beat Rydges Pit Lane Hotel. Situated directly on pit lane within the Motorsport Park and with exotic cars placed around the property, this Tailem Bend hotel is a true petrolhead’s paradise.
Need A Hotel?
One of the best Airbnb Murray Bridge options is Mae’s Cottage, a cute and historic home near the centre of town. Just south of Murray Bridge, there’s also River Shed with a Bed where you can peacefully watch the river go by. About halfway from Murray Bridge to Tailem Bend, you’ll find ultra-modern The Cube Murray River, floating directly on the river itself, which is my personal favourite! Larger groups should consider this waterfront home on the Wellington Marina, while down in the Coorong area this Salt Creek Holiday House is in a perfect spot for accessing the national park.
Murraylands Caravan Parks
Starting with caravan park Murray Bridge options, the Murray Bridge Marina & Caravan Park is clean and popular. Just west of town is Murray Bridge Tourist Park, while to the north-east there’s Avoca Dell Caravan Park. There’s a few Tailem Bend caravan park options, but the pick of the bunch is BIG4 The Bend Holiday Park. Further afield, Wellington Caravan Park is also a good choice. The best of the Lake Alexandrina caravan parks is Milang Lakeside Caravan Park, while nearby Clayton Bay Riverside Holiday Park is very popular.
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Like many areas of South Australia, the Murraylands has some fantastic wineries. One of the best is Willow Point Wines near Murray Bridge, while further south near Strathalbyn and Lake Alexandrina you’ll find quite a few vineyards. Highlights here include Kimbolton Wines, Lake Breeze Wines, Angas Plains Wines, and Langhorne Creek.
Overall, the Murraylands has a surprising amount of things to see and do. It’s a region that’s often overlooked by visitors, which gives it a certain under-appreciated charm. So whether it’s relaxing on the river, fishing in the Coorong, or having a close encounter with lions, the Murraylands is packed with great experiences – and it’s only an hour from central Adelaide to Murray Bridge. Perfect.