WHERE IS IT?
Head northeast by road from Adelaide and after 258km you’ll find Renmark. Renmark is situated on the Murray River in what’s called the “Riverland”. Riverland is a region that starts where the Murray River crosses into South Australia and continues for 300km, creating wide lakes, narrow creeks, islands, and wetlands.
“Renmark” is a word derived from the local Aboriginal words meaning “red mud” and the town itself, boasts an interesting history. Canadian-born brothers George and William Chaffey are honoured as the founders of Renmark, after having been invited to Australia to create an irrigation colony at Mildura. Political disputes ensued and Renmark became home to Australia’s first and now oldest Irrigation Settlement.
Adding to its historical status, the Renmark Hotel, which opened in 1897, was the very first community-owned hotel in the Commonwealth and the town’s founders were responsible for bringing the first navel orange tree into Australia.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
One of the most impressive things about Renmark is the resilience of its community! When you look at its history, it survived drought in 1914, severe flooding in 1956, as well as storms and bushfire threats. It was once a port for paddle steamers, but the introduction of the railway made the river trade industry redundant. Then, the railway was put to an end when transport freight was replaced by prime movers. The township has endured many significant changes and challenges during its lifetime, but it continues to be revitalised and renewed every time.
As with many Riverland towns, Renmark attracts tourists with the many and varied recreational opportunities afforded by the Murray River. The Paddle Steamer industry, for example, has been restored and now offers historic Paddle Steamers in full working condition, which has revived some of Renmark’s precious history.
WHERE TO STAY
Whatever your accommodation preference, you’ll find it in or around Renmark. There are riverfront caravan parks, hotels and motels, B&Bs, camping and self-contained cabins. Or for a really memorable Murray River experience, take charge of houseboat – an extensive range is available for hire from the original Murray River houseboat company, Liba Liba.
WHAT TO DO WHILE YOU’RE THERE
In Renmark, you – literally – need to stop and smell the roses, because this town is home to the largest rose garden in the southern hemisphere! Ruston’s Rose Garden has 50,000 bushes and 4,000 varieties of roses to enjoy, making it one of the most important rose collections in the world. To celebrate, every October the town holds a glorious nine-day festival. If you can’t make it during October, worry not – you can visit anytime between September and July, and you’ll be able to see the main street bursting with beautiful blooms.
There’s a lot of history to be enjoyed in Renmark and this is headlined by the opportunity to experience the PS Industry, which is a fully restored paddle steamer that is still in operation, despite holding the oldest boiler in a paddle steamer, which was built and installed in 1934! Equally important, is the necessity to eyeball the nearby Paringa suspension bridge, which is one of only four in existence that still spans the Murray River. Originally constructed in 1927, it still carries B-double trucks today, as part of the Sturt Highway. Your local history lesson can be rounded off with a visit to the Olivewood Historic Homestead and Museum, which is the original home of the town’s founders.
Wine connoisseurs should head for the Angove’s Nanya Vineyard, because in addition to it being one of Australia’s longest operating, privately owned wine companies, at 500 hectares in size, it’s also one of Australia’s largest.
After an enjoyable tipple, take a stroll along the Renmark riverfront interpretive walk. This easy five-kilometre trail is also suitable for bikes and interprets historical information about the town and river. An extension of the walk takes you to the nearby town of Paringa. Or, if you’d prefer to paddle off your cellar door experience, get in touch with Canoe Adventures, who can help you discover the fascinating backwaters of the Murray River, hire you a canoe or kayak for some self-guided exploration, or take you on an awesome canoe camping experience.
Angove Family Winemakers
Liba Liba Houseboats
Ruston’s Rose Garden