Derived from the Aboriginal word meaning "big bend in the river", Paringa is a small Riverland town located approximately five kilometres south-east of Renmark. It became one of the first towns to be connected to Adelaide by rail in the early 1900s. Today, its primary appeal is related to the River Murray.
Book a night or two at the Riverbend Caravan Park and inspect Paringa's unusual suspension bridge. Opened in 1927, this historic lifting span bridge rises twice daily (9:30am & 2:30pm) for river traffic to pass beneath. It is quite a sight and you can read more about the bridge here. Staying at the nearby caravan park also gave us the opportunity one morning to cross through the centre of the bridge on foot. This section of the Lock 5 Loop Trail was originally designed to carry a single track railway of the heaviest South Australian Standard. Across the bridge, the walking trail continues a further two kilometres to Lock 5.
Lock 5 is a great example of the river control system built in 1927. Check out this article for an overview of the River Murray weirs and locks in South Australia. Picnic facilities including bbq are available on the lawns overlooking Lock 5, so you can relax and watch the boats move up-and-downstream passing through the lock. I reckon the best times to witness this is either just before or just after the rising of the abovementioned bridge (when river traffic tends to be heavier).
Also on display at Lock 5 is the Bunyip, an old 80-tonne river barge of composite construction that was once used to transport goods along the river. Built in Morgan and launched in 1962, it was in commission until recently retired from service in the early 2000s.
Within the Paringa township itself, a huge root system for a 600-year-old red river gum called the Black Stump is sure to catch your eye. This very large tree stump measures a whopping eight metres across. A plaque affixed next to the stump explains its origins and so on. It's an interesting story to say the least, but I'll leave this to you to decide for yourself.
Lastly is the Headings Cliff Lookout located just 15 kilometres north from Paringa. This unique richly coloured cliffs will take your breath away and more information about it can be found here. In my opinion, it is one of the most magnificent vantage points on the River Murray.
We were in Paringa very recently. Interesting little town. The painted silos are worth a look, too. We were disappointed that the bridge didn't open the day we were there, I guess no boats wanted to pass through. We also saw the Black Stump but missed out on Lock 5 so we may have to pop in again when we are up that way. PS: the bakery is definitely worth a stop!