Approximately 250 km north-east of Adelaide via the Sturt Highway, Lyrup Flats is a great place to enjoy the mighty Murray River. One of several campgrounds in the Murray River National Park, Lyrup Flats meanders along the floodplain on the northern side of the river. We chose a campsite without amenities. There are some sites which do offer toilets and water: these were reasonably crowded on a public holiday.
A short, scenic ferry ride – free, and operational 24 hours – brings you to Lyrup Flats along a gravel road, well-maintained and accessible to all vehicles. Park fees of $10 per vehicle per night are payable at the Self-registration Station at the entrance to the camping ground. Choose from twenty or so marked sites, each allowing for two or more groups of campers. Campfires are allowed outside Fire Danger Season (15 November to 15 April) and gas fires are permitted in summer except on days of extreme heat.
With many flat, clear, shady areas to pitch camp, plenty of bird life - including pelicans and whistling kites - and lots of tracks to explore, Lyrup Flats is an easy camp and an excellent place to introduce children to the pleasures of the bush. Care must be taken with small children however as, whilst the river is not fast flowing, banks are steep, the water opaque and abundant in snags, and very deep on this side. If you're canoeing or fishing, put your kids in high-visibility swimwear and keep an eye on them at all times. On the opposite bank of the river lies Bulyong Island, a wetland habitat accessible by boat. Here there are a couple of little beaches and shallows where we took our four year-old when she wanted a dip.
The only significant pests are small ants tracking across every inch of ground, both night and day. Bites were more annoying than painful, and they weren't particularly interested in swarming eskies or getting into the tent with us, but they made trips to the 'wee tree' a little challenging.
If you are looking for absolute solitude Lyrup Flats might not be the place for you, as the river is enjoyed – on long weekends at least - by the occasional water-skier and camper playing canned music. One houseboat moored downstream had also brought their drum kit along(!) But if you want to get away from most of it, catch a skyful of stars, and yet still be close to civilisation (Berri, population 5343), Lyrup Flats is well worth a stay.
Bring: yabbie traps (up to four), fishing rods, kayak and binoculars, and rubbish bags to take your rubbish home with you.
Don't Bring: fruit and veg, as the riverland is a protected zone and you will be asked to dump them at the quarantine bin. Fresh supplies can be bought at several roadside stalls along the Sturt Highway, or there is a supermarket in Berri.