Do you travel between Adelaide and the Riverland often? What about a weekend road trip?
Here's two different ways to get to the Riverland from Adelaide without travelling along the busy Sturt Highway. They take a little bit longer but you'll see parts of the state that are 'off the beaten track' to most travellers. That's the point of a road trip right?
First option via the Mid North and Morgan. Courtesy Google Maps.
The first route will take you through Kapunda, Eudunda and Morgan. The most interesting thing about this route is that you won't cross the river at all. Head north out of the city to the Gawler bypass (the usual way out of town to the Riverland) but turn north at the exit for the Thiele Highway and Kapunda and Morgan.
Kapunda and Eudunda are idyllic old towns established during the copper mining boom and feature some of the oldest buildings in country Australia. The region is classic pastoral country and there's plenty of historical sites to stop and visit along the way. One of them is the giant statue of 'Map the Miner', just outside of Kapunda on the highway. Here you can read a richly detailed history of the district and its Cornish miners.
Just after the pretty little town of Kapunda, you'll leave the ranges and head across the dry and desert-like plains toward Morgan. The old railway line follows the road here as if to lead you to the Port of Morgan and its once busy railhead.
Fruit and veg restrictions apply whichever way you enter the region.
Morgan was once a busy river port connecting the Murray River trade with Adelaide. Many vestiges of this history remain along the impressively restored riverfront. There's two pubs in main street Morgan. They face each other and they're both still open, which is an impressive feat for such a small town. Having said that, the area is a mecca for water skiers, campers and shack owners. There's a great playground and park at Morgan. It's a great place to stop to break up the three-hour trip.
From Morgan, you'll need to head north and follow the Goyder Highway. You'll pass Lock 2 and Lock 3. Lock 3 is nearby to Overland Corner. The Overland Corner Hotel was built in 1859 and stands in the middle of the National Trust of South Australia's Overland Corner Reserve. It's worth a detour to take in the isolated nature of this historic place and check out one of the mighty river locks in action.
The second route will take you out of Adelaide via the South Eastern Freeway to Murray Bridge, then through the vast and quiet spaces of the Mallee country. You'll pass through Karoonda and then a string of ghost towns before you reach Loxton. The ghost towns all stand testament to the days of settlement and cropping when rail was the primary method of moving freight. This route via the Karoonda highway follows the line that once took trains to the Riverland region.
One benefit of this route is that you won't find much traffic so the cruising is easy. After Loxton, you might like to head east around to Paringa. Along this route, you'll pass by massive almond farms and re-join the Sturt Highway at Yamba, near the Victorian border.
Both of these routes are free of the traffic and trucks that can make the Sturt Highway a bit miserable at times. There's plenty of things to see and do along the way and many of the towns are RV friendly, making these routes ideal for meandering your way up to the Riverland on your next visit. For things to see and do once you get there, here's some tips.
Julia and I did the trip via Karoonda recently on the way to Renmark.
We stopped at Karoonda for lunch at the Cafe after admiring the newly painted Silo Art, which is so representative of Karoonda and District.
Traffic is very light and allows you to move at your own pace.
The old Wanbi Hotel was another highlight on this trip.
If you have a bit of extra time, go via Tailem Bend. This route will then basically follow the Railway Line to Karoonda and Riverland.