After all the rough driving we had been doing up in northern SA, we had to replace two tyres, but they had to order the specific truck tyres we needed from Melbourne which was going to take a week. So while we waited, we thought we’d explore the areas east of Adelaide that we had skipped on our way in to the state 4 months ago. Mt. Crawford is a state reserve with some great campsites and walking tracks through the pine forests.
The area around the Murray River in South Australia is known as the Riverlands and being within a couple of hours drive of Adelaide, it is very popular for holiday shacks and camping. We started at Mannum and stayed in the caravan park for a night to get some washing done. There is a nice café where they serve mostly vegetarian/vegan food and had some arts and crafts for sale. There’s also a nice walk along the river with a bird sanctuary on the other side of the caravan park. However, we left the next day because the caravan park was a bit too crowded for our liking. We’ve noticed a tenfold increase in travellers on the roads in just the last couple of weeks since the pandemic restrictions lifted.
We then went to stay on the property of two of our Explorer friends Maria and Lynton, at Big Bend. The water was literally within a metre of the van. I threw the fishing line in but it immediately got snagged on a tree. The next got snagged under water, so I gave up on fishing, and just spent the couple of days we were there reading and relaxing, and baking bread on the camp fire. The cliffs along parts of the river look amazing.
Next we decided to move on to Hogwash Bend, where there is a winery called Caudos within walking distance, making this one of our favourite spots on the river. We went for some wine tasting, and ended up with a mixed dozen and somehow squeezed them in. There’s a tree with markings of how high past floods of the Murray have risen, and that is pretty scary!
The river is more open here, and again we tried fishing but despite leaving the lines in for most of a day, nothing took the bait. We know the fish are there because the pelicans are well fed, but they apparently don’t like our worms.
There are so many free camps along the river, you are spoilt for choice. We spent one night at Lake Bonney, which would be great in summer, but it was windy, cold and lonely, with us being the only ones camped there.
Plush’s Bend is another free camp further down the river near Renmark, which is close to the border with NSW and Victoria. It’s a 5km walk into town, and there’s a great pizza restaurant called Chill ‘n Grill.
We spent a couple more nights back at Big Bend having a drink or three with our Explorer friends, before going back to get our new tyres fitted.
We are now in the Adelaide Hills enjoying the cool air and the German village vibe of Hahndorf. Many shops and cafes are still closed due to the virus, but there’s still enough happening to make it worthwhile visiting. The bakeries, gift shops, cellar doors, and German inspired eateries are all very friendly.
We’ll start travelling north again now, with the aim to get to the NT border by the 17th when it opens. On the way, we have a night booked at the underground Desert Cave Hotel in Coober Pedy which we are looking forward to!