Got just the weekend to get away with the kids? Thought about heading up to the Murray River? By invitation, we spent two nights in a standard cabin at Avoca Dell Caravan Park. It’s close to home, but far enough away to be unique, comfortable and affordable. Offering both active and relaxing activity options in an outstandingly beautiful part of the world, it’s a superb ‘short family getaway’.

Avoca Dell reserve
Avoca Dell reserve

Sixty minutes from central Adelaide up the freeway, Avoca Dell is a short drive across the bridge from Murray Bridge. Avoca Dell’s main feature is the huge open waterfront park with a boat ramp with excellent boat trailer parking, easy water access for canoes and kayaks, sheltered barbecues and picnic tables, great fishing, amenities and a playground. Nearby on the riverfront is an idyllic wetland trail.

Cabin
Standard cabins on well kept grounds

In the three years they’ve owned the place, Kym and Lawrence Crack have done an outstanding job at Avoca Dell. We were impressed at the simple and clean space the standard cabin offered our family of four and with its big bunks it would sleep four kids easily. We felt comfortable straight away. The cabins are well furnished with full kitchen facilities with plenty of benchtop space, TV and DVD, a three-seater lounge and a spacious dining table with chairs. We never felt the cold! Between the cabin with its excellent split system heating and cooling…and the fire, we were well equipped for the cold and clear (but starry skied) winter nights! The park is a very green, very quiet, and very cosy place to spend a winter weekend! The huge fire pit in the BBQ area was crackling along nicely by the time we had dinner and headed over to toast marshmallows with the kids. It’s light out by ten pm and all in all a pretty good end to a working week we’d say! If you get the chance, find a dark spot on a clear winter night and look up at the stars. In such a short distance from the glare of city lights, you can be looking at the awe-inspiring spread of millions of stars of the Milky Way splashed across the dark night sky, which is why there is a push to have the Murraylands region declared a ‘dark sky reserve’.

Toasting marshmallows
Toasting marshmallows on the fire!

After a sneaky sleep in we enjoyed a day walking by the river and through the Riverglades wetlands. The easy 3.5 km loop trail is a great nature walk with boardwalks, photo points, plenty of wildlife, birds and information boards along the way. We brought lunch for Saturday with us, but there’s plenty of places in town to grab some great food (takeaway, cafes and restaurants) and shopping centres with supermarkets. The Murray Bridge Visitor Information centre an excellent place to find out what’s on and what to do in the region, they supplied the excellent and definitive information pack we were provided with at reception. We played 18 holes at the mini golf course, which the girls really enjoyed, and spent some time lazing around the cabin just reading and relaxing before getting the kayak off the car to go for a quick paddle across the mighty but serene Murray River. Kayaking is amazing on the river in winter, the winds are down far more often in winter, making for super comfortable and easy paddling.  There were families fishing from the bank nearby (catching carp) and having a great time! I tried popping some shrimp and yabby nets in overnight but as is the case in winter, no such luck. Come back in summer and your luck will be much better! Winter isn’t the time to catch bait like shrimp and yabbies, but you can rely on carp to be hungry for worms, bread and corn all the time, and they provide good fishing for the kids. We were hungry too by that time so we cleaned up and headed into town again to have dinner at the Murray Bridge Hotel bistro.

Dining in Murray Bridge has come a long way in the twenty-five years since my first visit to McCue’s Bakery on Adelaide Road! The bistro at the Murray Bridge Hotel has been fully renovated, along with its menu. This place stands with any upmarket pub bistro anywhere and there are a few unique and worthy places in Murray Bridge now…Riverscape Restaurant, and The Davery Establishment are others that immediately come to mind. We suspect Murray Bridge may be on the verge of being discovered by Adelaide’s foodie scene.

Food
The Beef and Coopers Ale pie, with tomato salsa, mashed potato and mushy peas. The Murray Bridge Hotel has amazing food.

On return to the park we lit the fire and the kids had a great time climbing rocks, toasting marshmallows and running around the campfire area.  If you’ve ever looked at your bickering children (ours are 7 and 11) and wondered what to do with them, take them camping away from all their distractions and enjoy watching them bond and play nicely together!

The usual 10 am checkout on Sunday meant we had enough time for a quick walk down to the river reserve and tidy up before heading out.  Instead of heading straight back down the freeway to Adelaide we took the scenic route via Tailem Bend, crossed the ferry to Jervois and Wellington, then across to the beautiful autumn scenery of the Langhorne Creek wine region to Strathalbyn.  Strathalbyn is a beautiful town to wander the shops and grab a delicious lunch to enjoy in one of the parks by the Angas River or the historic buildings and railway station. 

Campsite at Langhorne Creek
Frank Potts Reserve at Langhorne Creek

From Strath it’s less than an hour drive back to Adelaide. We were home by 2pm to clean up and catch up before the working week began again on Monday. We felt like we’d had a mini holiday being tourists in our beautiful backyard. The amenity of Avoca Dell meant we didn’t have to run around on the Saturday and could just unwind and relax as a family.  The information pack available from  The short distance from home meant we could leave late on Friday and get back home in time to organize everything for a busy week ahead without feeling rushed.  Along the way there were so many other things to do and see and we encourage you to head up the river yourself and tell us all about it!

For more information and advice, try these websites!

http://www.visitmurraylands.com/

http://www.themurrayriver.com/play-pause/for-the-foodies/bridgeport-hotel-murray-bridge/

Make the Murray River, Lakes and Coorong your new quick winter weekend getaway destination.
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