Gayle is an accountant. Shh – don’t tell. She thinks she’s a writer.
Published December 16th 2014
A relaxing country weekend on Adelaide's doorstep
Just short of 100kms from the Adelaide CBD, Riverton waits to host the ideal weekend getaway. Pack the car or caravan, put some steak and snags in the esky and head off after work on Friday. You'll be there by dinner time.
Riverton Caravan Park and a BBQ
Drive through town to the Riverton Caravan Park on the corner of Oxford Terrace and Torrens Road (Barrier Highway). Turn left just before the Avenue of Sugar Gums. The Gums were planted in July of 1906 as an Arbour Day Project and are an inspiring sight today.
Riverton's pet friendly Caravan Park offers caravan sites, camping grounds and cabins. Once you've settled in you can take advantage of the park's free BBQ's and outdoor seating. After dinner sit back with a quiet drink and watch a dappled sun set through gum leaves while the children enjoy themselves on the adventure playground.
Are you ready to explore Riverton? Take the car if you like, there is ample free parking both along Torrens Road and in the side streets, but there really isn't any need. Riverton's treasures are within an easy walk.
If you've arrived on the third Saturday of the month don't miss the Riverton Country Market. The market is held between 9am and 1pm in the Community Hall on the corner of Torrens Road and Elizabeth Street. Entry is free. Wander around stalls of fresh vegetables, jams and preserves, homemade biscuits and cakes, and of handcrafted goods. I couldn't resist a jar of homemade marmalade.
Riverton Community Hall, home to the Riverton monthly markets
Fancy a spot of morning tea? Across the street at 35 Torrens Road in an old stone building erected in 1857, is Jules Internet Café. Take a seat at a generously sized table in this spacious room or on a cold day, slide onto a couch by the fire. Sip a cappuccino, or perhaps a milkshake and enjoy a snack. A computer with internet facilities should keep the kids entertained. Local papers are available. This is one of my favourite travel pastimes, the local news and advertisements are a window to the community. I confess, the superbly decorated cupcake piled high with frosting was awfully good too.
Antiques and Crafts
There's still time to take in some antiques, second hand goods and crafts.
Gilbert Patch at 47 Torrens Road is open until noon. Step through the door of this quaint blue cottage to the first of two distinct rooms. Handcrafted goods share space with antique jewellery and old knitting books. I flick through the books looking for patterns for knitted toys. In the second room are preloved goods and antiques, all tastefully displayed. There is fine glassware and books I remember from my childhood, old advertising posters and ladies gloves. My husband is lured by cameras of days gone by; they are his now.
Across Torrens Road at No. 44 is Stuff 'n Nonsense, a second hand and variety store. You might find furniture like your grandparents had or even something more modern. Choose some holiday reading from shelves of second hand books. What lady wouldn't like a spare handbag? A novelty egg cup, a set of mugs, a print for the wall, the possibilities are endless.
Lunch and Nature Walk at Duck Ponds Trail
Pop over to the IGA at 51 Torrens Road, before it closes at noon. Pick up some picnic or BBQ supplies then head over to The Riverton Duck Ponds for lunch.
The Duck Ponds are in Oxford Terrace at the picturesque Gilbert River Lake, not far from the Riverton Caravan Park. The picnic ground has a well maintained grassed area with shade trees, picnic tables and a BBQ. There is an off-road car-park and a public toilet. Native birds are regular visitors to this idyllic corner of town.
The Duck Ponds Picnic Grounds on the banks of the Gilbert River Lake
Follow lunch with a gentle walk around the Duck Ponds Trail. The entrance to this 1km loop walk is on the opposite side of the car park. It is an easy flat walk on compacted gravel and is suitable for all ages. Birdwatchers will find plenty to capture their interest. Imagine the children's joy at spotting a colourful red-rumped parrot or a tiny white-plumed honeyeater.
Riverton's historic and rather grand railway station, now a private residence, can also be viewed from the trail.
Or a Spot of Golf
Not really into nature walks? What about a round of golf instead. Riverton Golf Course is on the corner of Washington Road and Torrens Road opposite the Caravan Park.
This is a 9 hole, par 70, public golf course with a putting green. There are no sand or water hazards on the course. Guests are welcome and green fees are $5.
A warm day? Refresh after your walk or afternoon's golf with a dip in the pool. The swimming pool is located on the public recreation grounds adjoining the Caravan Park and is open on weekends from 2pm to 5.30pm, when the temperature exceeds 26 degrees. I visited in July, no swimming for me, brrr.
After a full day of exploration take the load off your feet with dinner at the Riverton Hotel. The hotel at 27 Torrens Road, was built in 1855 and was originally called the Riverton Arms. The building may be on the State Heritage Register but the menu and facilities are modern. During winter a welcoming log fire is burning. The dining room is open for dinner between and 6pm and 8pm. The menu has a generous variety of meals and caters for children. There is a bar with Sky Channel, Keno and Tab and a small pokies room if you care for a flutter.
How about some quality extra virgin olive oil to take home? Pay a visit to Macaw Creek Olive Oil at Lot 2 Macaw Creek Road, Riverton, just 4kms on the Adelaide side of town. This family owned business produces award winning olive oil. The cellar door opens 7 days a week in daylight hours and in addition to extra virgin or flavoured olive oils you might treat yourself to one of more of the variety of dukkah on sale or even to a cake of olive oil soap.
Art Gallery and Sculpture Studio
Who would have though this quiet little town was home to artists Robert Hannaford and Alison Mitchell? The Riverton Light Gallery at 54 Torrens Street is a sculpture studio and gallery and is open to the public on Sundays from 11am to 3 or 4pm. Robert Hannaford is a three times winner of the Archibald Prize People's Choice Award. Alison Mitchell is also an award winning artist.
Lunch at Riverton Hotel
Drop by Riverton Hotel for a light lunch or hearty meal, the choice is yours. I can vouch for the Prawn Cocktail but you might like the Crumbed Camembert with Cranberry Sauce entrée or to tuck into the Marinated Lamb Fillet. Don't forget to save room for dessert. The Hotel is open for lunch from 12pm to 2pm.
No trip to Riverton would be complete without taking in its historic buildings. A suggested walk and details of the buildings are available on the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council website. The Cottage built in 1854 and adjoining Hotel Central built in 1908 at 41 Torrens Road are my favourites. I love the detailed verandahs. Sandal Magna, now a private residence, at 5 Torrens Road is indeed a stately residence. Scholz Cottage at 20 Torrens Road, was built in 1872 and occupied by the same family for nearly 100 years. There are over 70 such buildings listed in the Riverton Heritage Walk. Take as little or as a long a time as you desire.
Break the stroll back to the Caravan Park with a stopover at Pioneers Garden. Consecrated as a cemetery in 1855, the Garden was the final resting place of Riverton's pioneers from 1855 to 1906. The entrance path is lined with commemorative bricks and at the rear are eighteen of the original headstones. Rabbits hopped across the path and through the garden the couple of times I visited. This is a peaceful place.
Now that you've had your two day introduction to Riverton, you'll be back, won't you? There's more, much more or nothing at all if that's your preference.
In addition to the Duck Ponds Trail, Walking SA lists 5 walking trails of varying lengths. The Local History, Family Research and Information Centre at 21 Torrens Road is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 11am and 3pm. I visited in July and had a great time finding and photographing the different fungi growing around town. Birdwatchers will not be disappointed.
Riverton Caravan Park
Corner of Oxford Tce and Torrens Rd
Phone/Fax 08 8847 2419
Office Hours 8am – 6pm 7 days
Check the website for current tariffs www.rivertoncaravanpark.com.au/
Riverton War Memorial Swimming Pool
Riverton Recreation Grounds, Oxford Tce,
Public & Lap Swimming Monday - Friday 3.30pm - 7.30pm, Weekends and Public Holidays 2.00pm—5.30pm
Pool will be open if forecast is 26 degrees or above
Telephone: Manager at the Valleys Lifestyle Centre on 08 8842 3999 https://www.claregilbertvalleys.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=319
Excellent coverage...a lesser known town on the tourist trail,but well worth basing yourself here for a pleasant weekend or a brief look around and a snack on your way through.Central to some of the better known tourist destinations in the area.