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At Riverland Boat Hire, you’ll find one of the best water experiences on the Mighty Murray River in South Australia. This boat hire team based in Renmark offer great water activities available for all the family. With 3 boat hires available; 2 tinnies and 1 party pontoon boat, there is something to suit everyone.
What is there to not love about the boat names – Marge the Barge, Vinnie the Tinny and Bindi the Tinny, who is Vinnie’s younger brother!
The best bit is, for the pontoon boat hire, you don’t need a boat licence to rent. However, a full car driver’s licence and a hirer over 21 years of age is required. For Tinny hire, a valid boat licence is needed.
We hired the pontoon boat for the day and here’s what we thought…
Booking the boat hire
Booking a pontoon boat or tinny has been made easy by jumping online at Riverland Boat Hire. After checking availability, you can book and confirm through their online system. Their website has recently been updated, and we must admit, it looks pretty snazzy! It’s also super simple to use. We hired the pontoon boat for $500 for the whole day. Whilst initially this may look costly, if you can entice 11 others on board with you, this brings the cost to less than $50 per person for a full days’ water activity. Not bad when you look at it like that!
You can hire the pontoon boat for a full day, half-day or just for 2 hours. Tinny hire is available for full and half-day hire. Find out more details here about availability and costs.
Not sure which vessel you would like to hire? Give Matt or Dan a call to discuss options and what is the best for you.
If you are not keen on hiring your own boat, check out their sister company, Renmark River Cruises for chartered river tours of this stunning stretch of the River Murray. Enjoy a guided river tour in their newer and faster pontoon boat. With full weather protection! There’s even a sunset river cruise available to really soak in the Riverland vibes.
We’ll throw it out there that by saying we think this is one of the best ways to enjoy a River Murray Cruise in South Australia.
Marge the Pontoon Boat
Moored at Paringa, Marge is a 2010 pontoon boat with a 90hp Suzuki outboard motor to help her along. She’s recently had a facelift into the green Riverland Boat Hire colours. She looks pretty good for her age! She has a capacity of 12 people which would be cosy, but would definitely live up to her status as the smallest party boat in the Riverland! She is ideal for cruising up and down the River Murray.
The best thing we loved about Marge is her super steadiness. The twin pontoons sit proudly in the water, giving both safety and stability. She is an absolute solid build! With 6 of us, all adults moving around with ease on the vessel, it’s easy to forget you are actually on the water.
All the seating is comfortable, making spending the day on her pleasurable. As the designated driver, most of my day was spent in the skipper’s seat, but I have to admit, the seats at the back of the boat were my absolute favourite! Be careful with children in this area (a locked door gates it) as it is open along the edge, but I think this is the best bit about it! Feel close to the water and enjoy watching the world float by.
She is easy to drive and very similar to driving a car. Without the need to move quickly, she glides into the riverbank when you are ready to moor, knowing her pontoons will safely glide up the riverbank with ease.
We didn’t take or borrow any fishing gear, but this would be an easy activity to do. There is ample room to move about, and an esky can be waiting for you on board when you arrange to start the hire. Just a note, bring your own ice.
With just seating and safety gear on board, we took our Waeco portable fridge which easily plugged into the 12-volt power supply and Baby Weber BBQ to relax for the day. There is a stereo and speaker on board which connects via Bluetooth. This really adds to the great atmosphere of floating along while your favourite tunes are turned up!
What to expect from Riverland Boat Hire
When we arrived at the marina at Lock 5 Paringa, Dan was ready and waiting for us. The green shiny vessel was in the water, welcoming us onboard. Dan took us through all the safety aspects of the boat; the safety equipment, the river markers to expect along the way and how to operate the controls. Whilst a boat licence isn’t needed to rent out Marge, it is worth spending some time getting confident in her use along the river. There are sandbanks and markers as you head north, and you need to know what they mean. If you aren’t sure, you can download the South Australia Recreational Boating Safety Handbook before leaving for easy reference.
We asked Dan if he had a river map available to follow where we were going. We thought this might also be a good way of finding out what points of interest along the way. Unfortunately, he did not have one and instead suggested to use Google Maps on our phones. This did work well, especially as you can follow the GPS marker. However, it would have been great to have been shown a few interesting stopping points along the way. With their guided tours on offer through Renmark River Cruises, hopefully this is something that will be in place one day.
How to spend a day on the river
We chose to head north to the Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery in Murtho. This is a good two and a half-hour drive each way. To put this into the context of the boat’s speed and the twists of the river, by car, this journey would take 14 minutes to travel 16km one way.
As there is no BBQ on board, the brewery is a great place to grab a bite to eat and try out their award-winning brews. Take a break from the boat with their magnificent views and watch the comings and goings of the array of visitors to the brewery. Please note that the brewery is at the top of some cliffs, so accessibility could be an issue. Be mindful of busy times when it can be difficult to find space to moor. This could also make getting on and off the boat slightly more challenging. The only other place we passed when heading north where you could grab a bite to eat or drink was Renmark.
This trip took us north along the Renmark riverbank where we stopped to pick up a friendly passenger from the public mooring area. This is an ideal place for someone looking to join you a bit later in the day. There is plenty of free parking available and perfect for a coffee stop! The award-winning Renmark Club is pretty decent too!
We continued to follow the river along, twisting through many bends, through Murtho Forest Reserve and past the Murtho Forest Lookout, or Headings Cliff Lookout as it is also known. Some of the views of the Murray cliffs were incredible with so much colour. We were lucky that after an overcast morning, the sun began to come through the clouds and really show off the cliffs in style.
With her 90HP engine, we glided past several houseboats meandering along, spotting so many more moored along the grassy banks. It surprised us at the number of old paddleboats still out on the water. Ski boats were out in force with their family members hanging on for dear life as their inflatable tube bounced behind them in their wake. There was also an abundance of birdlife for the entire journey.
One noticeable aspect of the pontoon boat was the lack of wind protection. Marge’s engine doesn’t push her along that fast, but on a morning struggling to warm up, the wind can make it fresher than expected. The bimini on the vessel was stable and perfect for the afternoon sun, but just a recommendation to wrap up warm in the mornings.
As luck would have it, our favourite South Australian Houseboat was out on the water. This Houseboat is named Drift and just looks simply amazing! She is the benchmark in luxury mobile accommodation and is available from Riverfun Houseboats. As we slowly passed her (of course we slowed down for a closer look!), we dreamed that one day this will be us taking her out on holiday.
It’s easy to spot ideal places to moor along the river from the indentation previously caused by others. Whilst this is not ideal for the environment, it does make it easier to get on and off the boat. This is one issue we thought we might have with a friend on board who had limited accessibility. However, with a bit of foresight into where to moor, the pontoon boat can easily reach flush with the riverbank. This allows for getting on and off a lot easier.
If we had not headed to the brewery, we would have driven along until we found a good spot to set up for a few hours, relax, fire up the BBQ and enjoy the world float by. For those who love to fish, this would be the perfect time to cast a line.
What was surprising were the number of campsites available along the stretch we cruised along. Not only was there the Premium Big4 Renmark Riverfront Holiday Park which looks impressively massive from the waterside, there were also several tucked away areas for some bush camping. What a way to find your next adventure on the River Murray!
(If you don’t know about the Big4 park here, check it out because it’s one of the best in South Australia!)
You can head south, but there are a few more locks that way. This means having to request and wait for locks to open, which could considerably slow your day down. There also isn’t that much to see and down in that direction. Therefore, we recommend heading north.
What was the best bit about this unique Boat Hire in the Riverland?
The chilled out vibes and pace of the day! Whilst sometimes you may be wishing the boat to drive faster, it deliberately makes you slow down and enjoy the moment. Just relax! Marge is a super easy boat to drive, stable and with ample space on board. It’s like she’s ready to show off the Mighty Murray’s stunning scenery and is proud of it too!
We actually think we fell slightly more in love with the River Murray after today! Thanks Marge!
Would we recommend Riverland Boat Hire?
Absolutely! This experience is one of the ultimate ways to enjoy the River Murray in South Australia. The experiences’ cost does reflect in the value offered from being convenient, ready to walk on and walk off from the riverbank, a well-maintained vessel and a day chosen how you want to spend it. We would recommend a full day if feasible so you can make it to the Woolshed brewery and see some of the magnificent cliffs along the way. However if not, half a day would be enough to have some fun and relax around the local area.
The experience isn’t just about the boat though. Communication throughout the booking process and on the day was good and professional. Dan mentioned that he has recently bought the business earlier in the year. You can tell he really wants to make a go of it. The passion was obvious. With the introduction of Renmark River Cruises, and planned ski boat, paddleboard, kayak and fishing gear hire, we expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of Riverland Boat Hire soon.
Have you hired with Riverland Boat Hire before? Are you thinking about it? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
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