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The stunning Mighty Murray River stretches over 375kms in South Australia. Along its majestic limestone cliffs, it provides plenty of opportunity for boat trips, River Murray cruises, boat hire, houseboat hire, water sports and adventures. There really is something for everyone in South Australia’s Riverland, less than 2 hours from Adelaide CBD.
The area is popular for waterskiing, wakeboarding, hiring houseboats, canoeing, kayaking or just gently cruising along the creeks and backwaters. There is nothing better than getting out onto the water, amongst its national parks and hidden reserves for a truly unforgettable experience.
Check into river time and enjoy the relaxed pace!
River Murray Water Adventures
We decided to kick off our best of the River Murray list with some serious water adventures, where the river provides some adrenaline-pumping opportunities.
As part of the Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park, ideally situated near Barmera, 3 different Jet Ski Tours are offered. There is also the opportunity to hire a Jet Ski for yourself for the day. Take a guided tour blast to Moorook, speed over to Loxton or check out the locks along the river with plenty of time for fun.
As part of a guided tour, you do not need a boat licence, just a driver’s licence. To hire one for your own use, a boat licence is required.
If you want to keep your adrenaline pumping, Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park also offers turbo Buggy Rides, Rally Experiences, V8 drifting laps, 4×4 tracks, dirt obstacle courses, events and camping. Groups are welcome with packages available.
Freedom Boat Hire is the perfect go-to place to spend an action-packed day out on the water. They have 3 different well-maintained ski boats on offer, 12ft tinnies, kayaks and stand up paddleboards to hire for the day or longer.
A boat licence is required for self-drive hire, and boats are available from Murray Bridge (free of charge) and Barmera. Other locations may be available upon enquiry.
However, if you don’t have a boat licence, you can still enjoy the fun. A full car licence is required.
And chartered ski boat hire is also available. No need for a boat licence and a qualified driver with watersports experience can take you out for 4 to 8 hours.
Boats are equipped with all necessary safety equipment, personal floatation devices and free use of water ski equipment.
Murray Bridge Ski Boat Hire offer an excellent service for a fun-filled day on the River Murray. With their walk-on, walk-off service to all areas of the Murray, or tow & go from a convenient location, it really is up to you how you spend your day, soaking up the sunshine whilst having some serious fun.
With all the equipment you need from safety gear to ski’s, kneeboards, a wakeboard, ski biscuit (tube) and ropes, just try to stop all those smiles out on the water.
For more information, see their website.
Need a bit more practice and confidence on the water? South Side Wakeboarding School provides Wakeboarding Lessons, whether in their boat or yours.
Situated at White Sands Riverfront Caravan Park, just outside of Murray Bridge, they can also come to you anywhere in the Riverland if you are using your own boat.
Avoid picking up bad habits from the beginning, and learn to love wakeboarding in style!
More information is available here on their website.
The Riverland’s only self-drive Party Pontoon Boat, a fully fenced twin pontoon, is the ultimate way to spend a day relaxing with up to 12 people on board. It is situated in Paringa and is the ideal location to enjoy cruising along the River Murray.
With luxury seating and a fusion stereo system with iPod connectivity onboard, half-day hire is available, but you’ll want a full-day hire to make the most of it!
And you don’t even need a boat licence. This Pontoon Boat can be driven on a driver’s licence! Now there really is no excuse not to jump on board!
If you want to take the hassle out of driving a boat yourself, take a River Tour with Renmark River Cruises onboard their 12-seater Pontoon boat. Relax and enjoy a 90 minute Renmark Riverfront Cruise with informative commentary throughout. Take in views of historical sites, man-made canals, golden limestone cliffs and an abundance of wildlife. Pick up point is from outside Renmark Club.
Or how about something extraordinary? Enjoy a stunning colour display that the Murray River shows off with a 2 hours Sunset River Cruise. Optional food and beverage upgrades are available whilst you can custom this tour to make it really memorable. Pick up points are from Renmark Club, Big 4 Caravan Park and the Riverbend Caravan Park.
Note: Whilst the Pontoon boat has a maximum capacity of 12 people, 8 people on board make for a more comfortable cruise.
Canoe The Riverland, situated just north of Renmark is a popular choice when exploring the River Murray and its hidden gems. From self-hire to several different tours available, including sunset, moonlight, wetland and custom groups, Canoe The Riverland has thought of everything.
Waterproof maps, dry bags and equipment are available to make sure you have an amazing experience.
Canoe The Riverland also has some gorgeous property overlooking the Murray River that is available for camping. This is the perfect weekend getaway with powered sites, a camp kitchen, amenities, stunning views, and the biggest fire pit we’ve ever seen.
Canoe Adventure, situated in Berri has a ton of experience on the River Murray and is just waiting to share it with you. From a quiet day exploring with day hire, or peddling a Hobie Mirage-drive kayak hands-free, Canoe Adventure will even pick you up at the other end (if you’ve had enough!!)
Guided tours are also offered from 2 to 8 hours. Canoe Adventures is the number 1 activity in Berri, according to TripAdvisor, so these tours are worth the arm ache!
Loch Luna Game Reserve is one of the best kayaking and canoeing areas in South Australia, full of meandering creeks and wetlands. It’s a maze waiting to be explored! Check out the Chambers Creek canoe trail map here for a self-guided tour.
The Riverland has some of the best camping spots in South Australia, and what a way to spend a weekend, floating down the River Murray at your own pace. Canoe Adventure offers the whole package with a good range of camping stuff to hire!
Looking for a good spot to camp? Find some great locations with HipCamp, including the Murray River National Park. And if you are not sure camping is for you, check out this great read about the 35 amazing benefits of camping, according to science… now you can’t argue with that!
The Frame’s Gondola Cruise at Sunset has got to be one of the most romantic cruises in South Australia. Hop on board the beautifully restored 100-year-old classic wooden boat exclusively for you. Take in the tranquillity of the Murray River whilst you sip sparkling wine, taste a local cheese platter and relax.
The Frames also offer a private guided Wetlands & Wildlife river cruise onboard their dingy, exploring the diversity of the river and includes morning tea, a gourmet lunch and refreshments. You can also choose to stop off at The Woolshed Brewery, tasting the locally made craft brews or ciders.
These cruises are only available whilst staying at The Frames – award-winning luxurious retreats overlooking the River Murray.
River Murray Cruises
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to cruising the Murray River. For short boat trips to week-long cruises, the hardest part will be deciding which one.
Step onboard Rivergum’s luxurious 35-foot river cruiser moored at Waikerie and your hosts, James and Sandra will share their unique river lifestyle with you.
Cruises range from 2 hours exploring the Yarra Cliffs, Ramco Redgums, Waikerie or a stunning Sunset, or take the 3-hour cruise to Broken cliffs. Or why not design your own cruise to take in views of the stunning limestone cliffs, gorgeous landscape and ample wildlife.
Full-day cruises are also available visiting Banrock Station, Caudo’s Vineyard, Overland Corner or take time out for lunch at Lock 2, overlooking the picturesque riverfront.
The River Murray flows over 2500 kilometres, from the Southern Australian Alps in New South Wales, through Victoria, down to the river mouth at Goolwa, South Australia. And Spirit Australia Cruises explore a significant amount of it!
Spirit Australia Cruises have a range of cruises along South Australia into Victoria, including:
- Goowla to Mildura (8 days/7 nights)
- Goolwa to Renmark (5 days/4 nights)
- Renmark to Mildura (4 days/3 nights)
- Wellington to Border Cliffs (5 days/4 nights)
- Albury to Echuca (6 days/5 nights)
- Echuca to Mildura (8 days/7 nights)
- 1 day and 2-day cruises along the Murray River from South Australia
Accommodation is provided within motels in local towns with all meals, excursions and coach transfers included.
Their vessels are also available for private charter.
Find out more on their website here.
Ever wondered what a lock looks like on the River Murray? Find out with this video from Mark Buress of Lock 3 on the river:
Hop on board MV Jester where you can get up close and personal with everything the River Murray has to offer.
Situated in Mannum, there are several different cruises available. Daily cruises are 1.5 hrs for morning, lunch, afternoon or sunset, or they also hold 2-hour bird watching cruises or local wine tasting cruises.
They hold many different event cruises throughout the year and are available for private charter.
Find about more about their event dates and cruises at their website.
Captain Your Own Murray River Houseboat
Houseboating is a popular activity in the Riverland, with a great selection of Murray River houseboats to choose from that suit your requirements. This unique holiday is great for couples, families or larger groups. And will create River Murray memories that last a lifetime.
If you are new to houseboating, you will be given full instruction and tuition on how to enjoy your first trip – and you only need a drivers licence to play captain – no boat licence is required. And you will be surprised how easy these houseboats are to operate.
Some of our favourites River Murray houseboat hires are (in no particular order):
As South Australian Tourism Award winners, year after year, River Murray Houseboats are one of the best go-to places to houseboat hire in the Riverland. They offer quality houseboat holidays, with clean and modern vessels – all with heated spas on board! Even the cute “Little Gem” luxury houseboat that suits one or two couples has a spa on the top deck. From the stunning “Murray Sunset” to the spacious “River Tonic”, it really will be hard to make that final decision about which houseboat!
Riverland Houseboats in Loxton has the gorgeous and modern “Kiwi-Oz”, a 2-8 berth Houseboat available for rental. Relaxation and tranquillity are at the heart of this River Murray Houseboat holiday with everything you could need onboard.
Riverfun Houseboats has one of the biggest fleets of houseboat hire available in South Australia. Choose from a range of Aquas from “Aqua Dreaming”, “Aqua Leisure” and “Aqua Squirt” (you guessed… this is the little one!) or a large range of 12 berth houseboats also available. But we have to admit, they hire our favourite South Australia houseboat – Drift… click this link and you’ll understand why!
Rivermist Houseboat is a 4-10 berth vessel with all the space, entertainment systems, outdoor areas and mod cons on board to make for a great holiday experience! With upgraded facilities, this River Murray houseboat hire is affordable for family and friends from a quiet location.
Griffins Marina is one of the closest Riverland houseboat hire services to Adelaide. They have a range of brilliantly named houseboats available for hire including “Scallywag”, “Scamp”, “Reflections”, “Adventurer” and “Daydreamer”! Every bit of thought has gone into making this the perfect houseboat holiday, including their sample itinerary to give you an idea of how to plan your time and also what you can experience on your upcoming adventure.
Custom House Houseboats really care about making your houseboat holiday as enjoyable as possible. Everything has been thought of as you relax and enjoy the sun beaming onto the Murray River. A quality houseboat fleet is available from 2-6 berth vessels to larger 10-12 berth houseboats.
Based in Waikerie, just under a 2-hour drive from Adelaide, this is the ideal location in the middle of Adelaide and Mildura. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Riverland’, hire a River Murray Houseboat to have the opportunity to explore both upstream and downstream. With a range of older style Houseboats available, from 2 – 12 berth, the hardest thing will be deciding which one to choose!
The Discover Murray River website offers more information on hiring Murray River houseboats and houseboat holidays. With information on different marinas and vessels available all over the Riverland, South Australia and further along the River Murray, you’ll be sure to find one to fall in love with.
River Murray Cruises, Paddle Steamers, Boats and Vessels
While looking into Paddle Steamers, Boats and Vessels on the River Murray, it’s hard to believe how many there are. And many are still in operation. Australia has the largest collection of active paddle steamers and boats across the world. These offer a great experience to enjoy a short cruise or week-long cruise along the River Murray, taking you back in time into what was historically such a romantic era.
Murray River Cruises are a popular choice offering a wide range of 1,2,3,4,5 and 7-night cruises, along with various event cruises. They operate all over South Australia but have a great choice for Riverland cruises.
Captain Cook Cruises proudly host PS Murray Princess cruises from various locations along the River Murray. From 3, 4 and 7-night cruises during the year, to special event cruises to celebrate in style, there is something for everyone.
Departing from Mannum, Proud Mary offers a luxurious cruise experience, from discovery cruises to indulgence cruises. Cruise the River Murray in style with pristine modern accommodation, fresh cuisine, spacious open decks and excursions that will have you never wanting to leave the Riverland. 2 night, 5 night and lunch cruises are available.
Captain Proud is a popular Murray River cruise for short lunches, dinners and events throughout the year. Situated at Murray Bridge, they offer specials and last minute deals for a great experience. This paddlewheel vessel is ideal for a taster of what the River Murray has to offer.
PS Oscar W located at Goolwa offers Murray River cruises most weekends during the warmer months. The vessel is also available for charter for those special occasions.
PS Marion located at Mannum Dock offers both short cruises and 8 day/7 night cruises from Berri to Mannum. It is also open to the public every day when not cruising. As a fully restored heritage vessel, it offers an experience into the golden years of riverboats.
Cruising from Mannum, PW Mayflower offers experiences onboard the oldest paddle wheeler in South Australia. This short cruise takes you along the Caloote Cliffs whilst the informal commentary whisks you away into the ever-changing river landscape. Bookings are mainly taken on weekdays, with some cruises being held on weekends.
PS Industry situated at Renmark stands proud as displays a true sign of history and fame. The vessel is open to the public 7 days a week. Steaming days for Murray River cruises held on the first Sunday of each month along with long weekends and special events during the year.
Murray River Boat Ramps
The River Murray is certainly not short of a boat ramp or two!
Click through this map to see the South Australian Government locations of boat ramps onto the River Murray:
Local areas around the Riverland also have their own information on their websites:
Have you been to the River Murray? What adventures did you get up to?
We’d love for you to share in the comments below and let others know what the best things to do in the sensational Riverland are.
Water loving British girl who moved to Australia and seriously caught the travel bug! Loves to explore and share destinations that inspire others to spend more time on the water and in the great outdoors. Typically, you’ll find her on a boat or next to the ocean, often in a daydream!