All the Rivers Run – our trip up the Murray River

On board the Swan Reach ferry looking at the cliffsFor anybody who’s read All the Rivers Run, or seen the mini-series, a trip along the Murray is a must.

Having decided that’s how we were travelling back from Adelaide to Sydney, we set off to start the trip at Swan Reach in South Australia, and drive up river until we turned off, up along the Great Dividing Range to the farm.

We spent the morning in Gawler buying last minute supplies, then had lunch with my parents before we set off. We drove for a little over two hours (counting the time we spent looking at rusty old cars), and decided that was far enough on the first day. The sight of the river, with soaring cliffs on one side was enough to make me go “wow”. So we decided to set up camp there.

A glass of wine and a bourbon on the table at the Swan Reach pub overlooking the Murray River and lagoonsA trip across the river on the ferry, and a drink (or two) at the Swan Reach pub set up high enough on the cliffs to look over the river and nearby lagoons was magic. And then we got sunset over the Murray. Sadly, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so no red sunset.

The next day, after being woken at dawn by the cockatoos flying over the river, we continued to meander between towns, criss-crossing the river on ferries. You can do that in South Australia. The distances between towns are short, and the roads are quiet enough to not need a bridge. How romantic is a ferry across the river)? It even felt very All the Rivers Run.

Waiting for the ferryWell, except for the jet skis, but more of that later.

I think crossing the river on the ferries was my favourite experience. We crossed three times in Swan Reach; over to the pub, then back again to camp, and back across to continue the journey the next morning. We did cross over and back at Blanchetown to see the first lock but that’s on the highway so was over a bridge. Then we crossed on the ferry at Morgan and stopped for lunch and a swim (also known as a ‘bath’ when you’re bush camping), crossed again at Cadell, and then crossed for the last time in South Australia at Waikerie. We almost missed the Cadell crossing because the road on the other side was further from the river, but at the last minute decided crossing over was more important. I’m glad we did, it was a very small ferry and a very pretty crossing. Perhaps my favourite one of all.

On oard the Wymah ferry across the Murray River, with sunshine and blue sky on one side and grey clouds and rain on the otherThen there was one more ferry crossing, much further upstream at Wymah, where we crossed from Victoria to NSW for the last time. Again we seemed to be chasing rain as we had sunshine down river where we had been, and storm clouds and rain upriver where we were going.

My least favourite part of the trip was the jet skis.

I should have expected it, being summer holidays. But somehow I didn’t even think about it when we were deciding how to travel home.

Old ruins beside the Murray RiverEvery town along the Murray River is a popular spot for holiday makers. Caravan parks and camping grounds are filled with families on holidays, all seemingly with boats and jetskis. All along the river people are water skiing, jetskiing, and riding in ‘donuts’. They are all having fun, and good on them. Well, good on them except for those jetskiiers who seem to think they have ultimate rights to do as they wish and hoon around, tossing their jetskis back and forth, squealing and trying to outdo each other. Particularly when they’re around kids swimming in the river.

And when they’re interrupting my peace! (that’s self-deprecating sarcasm by the way)

Even Doc, who kept sighing blissfully whenever a ski boat would pass “Listen to that engine. Isn’t that the best sound in the world!” wasn’t enamoured of the jet skis.

I think we’re turning into grumpy old grandma & poppy!

I think next time we travel along the Murray we’ll do it outside school holiday time. And perhaps in a houseboat on the river.

Permanent link to this article: