How to spend a day in Murray River National Park
Want to make the most of your visit to this iconic park? We’ve got you covered with this one-day itinerary.
There’s a reason why the River Murray is iconic. Sweeping stretches of water, tranquil wetlands, imposing cliffs and abundant wildlife make Murray River National Park the perfect place to walk, kayak, birdwatch and camp.
With more than 13,000 hectares – that’s the size of more than 5000 Adelaide Ovals – including a vast network of wetlands and floodplains, there’s so much to explore.
The park has three separate areas that are separated by towns: Katarapko (Winkie), Lyrup Flats (Lyrup) and Bulyong Island (Renmark), so check out the park maps before you go to familiarise yourself with the area.
This area is the traditional home to the Erwirung people, a relatively small Aboriginal group that lived on the fertile plains of the Murray. Cultural sites exist in the park in the form of graves, middens and canoe trees.
To help you plan your visit to Murray River National Park Ranger Shara Coulthard has put together this itinerary for a great day out:
One of the best spots to explore along the Murray is Katarapko, just under 250 km (that’s about three hours’ drive) from Adelaide, between Berri and Loxton.
Pack a light morning snack to take on a leisurely paddle in a kayak or canoe along Katarapko Creek. This significant creek is an important habitat for native fish that passes through black box, red gum and lignum covered floodplains and wetlands alive with aquatic bird species.
Stop along the way for a short walk around the Cragg’s Hut Walking Trail. It’s an easy 40-minute, 1.3km loop that includes the historic remains of the homes of settler families the Craigies and the Blands.
Alternatively, take the Kai Kai Nature Trail, another easy walk that takes about 40 minutes, or 1.3km. Kai Kai is the Ngarrindjeri word meaning ‘plain’. The Kai Kai Nature Trail passes along Katarapko Creek bank and through the surrounding floodplain.
While you’re out on the kayak or canoe, find a nice sandbar to pull up on and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Set up camp for the night at the Booky Cliffs campground in the Lock 4 section opposite the magnificent Booky Cliffs.
The campground is accessible by 2WD car and can accommodate small caravans and camper trailers, making it ideal for group and family camping getaways right on the riverbank. There are eight separate sites in the Lock 4 section and toilet facilities.
Pitch your tent among the gum trees and spend a quiet and relaxing afternoon enjoying the spring weather by setting up your chair on the banks of the river and throwing in a fishing line. You might land a golden perch, yabbie or European carp.
Kids will love spotting the abundant wildlife in the area – keep an eye out for kangaroos, echidnas, sand goannas and brushtail possums.
Take an easy 3km, 1.5‑hour twilight stroll around the Ngak Indau Wetland trail where you can spend some time birdwatching at the bird hive and explore the different surroundings from the wetland to the river.
The walk begins at the car park just off Lock 4 road and winds its way through the Ngak Indau wetland, out to the river and back again. Check out the wetland birdlife like spoonbills, an array of duck species, herons and whistling kites.
Then all you have to do is go to sleep under millions of twinkling stars to wake up to an incredible orange and pink sunrise that reflects off the water and lights up the stunning Bookpurnong Cliffs.
Interested in learning more about this tranquil park? Check out thesetips from Park Ranger Glenn Chisolm.