I recently spent a few days exploring Berri South Australia. To help you do the same, here are all the things to do in Berri when you are in the Riverland.
I’ve not really spent any time in the Riverland. I’ve driven through a few times heading interstate, even stopped for lunch in Renmark one or twice, but that is as far as my experience goes. This was my first foray into exploring this region of South Australia.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
- Why Visit Berri
- Getting to Berri
- Things to do in Berri
- Where to Stay in Berri
- Places to Eat in Berri
Why Visit Berri
“Why Berri?” I heard that more than once when I was planning my trip. The common consensus seems to be that there is nothing to do in Berri. To me that sounded almost like a challenge.
I knew that Berri sat on the banks of the Murray River, and it is the middle of the biggest wine region in Australia. It also knew it’s reputation for growing a lot of citrus too – after all, it’s the home of the Big Orange. I like wine, and fruit, so Berri it was!
Now Berri is probably not for you if you are looking for nightlife or to be entertained at every turn.
It’s a great place to visit though is you are after a few days or rest and relaxation, spending time with nature, with just a few things to do in between.
I recommend visiting Berri towards the end of the week or over the weekend. Our visit was from Tuesday to Thursday, and we noticed a lot of things were not open, particularly on the Tuesday.
Fun Fact: the name "Berri" comes from the local indigenous term "Bery Bery" which means wide bend in the river.
Getting to Berri
The drive from Adelaide to Berri is 243km and can easily be done in under three hours. This means visiting Berri can be turned into a weekend trip from Adelaide.
It’s also possible to do the Berri – Adelaide trip by bus. The Stateliner buses travel once a day between the two places. For more information, including the timetable, look at the Stateliner website.
I do suggest travelling by car if possible though as you will need a car to get around Berri and the surrounding area.
If you need a rental car, I use and recommend RentalCars.com to compare prices and availability from all the major hire car companies in one search.
Remember though, when driving to the Riverland, do not bring any fruit or vegetables with you from another region. This will help to stop the spread of fruit fly and will protect the primary production industries in the area.
Things to do in Berri
So now that you are here, here’s what to do in Berri!
Go Wine Tasting
While there are a few cellar doors within a short drive of Berri, there is really only one that is considered a Berri winery, and that is 919 Wines.
Their cellar door is open from Wednesday to Sunday, and public holidays, from 10am to 5pm. Wine Tastings are $5, and there was a reasonably large list to choose from with no limit on the number tasted.
They are a small, family run winery, and we really enjoyed our time chatting to Jenny as she went through the wines.
Our visit was not at the optimal time – with the covid restrictions, tastings have to be done on the verandah, and of course as soon as we arrived it began to rain!
Even so, we tasted a wide range of the delicious organic wines produced here – some was from the vines just metres away from us! We mostly chose to taste varieties we were not familiar with.
The Riverland wine region is especially good for these lesser known wines.
919 Wines also produces fortified wines, and it was one of these we ended up purchasing – 919 Reserve Collection Classic Topaque. Delicious!
Kayak on the Murray
Unfortunately we did not get to do this one in Berri, but I have kayaked on the Murray a little further up at Renmark and it was a fabulous way to experience the river up close.
Canoe Adventures are located in Berri and offer plenty of single or double kayaks for hire. Hire one for a day or for your whole visit – imagine starting each morning with a quiet paddle on the river!
If you don’t want to just hire the kayak, you can instead join in on a guided tour of the river by kayak instead. Tours are offered at all times of the day, including sunrise and sunset, half- and even full day tours.
The tours all leave from right in the centre of town and will really give you a taste of what the Riverland is about.
Take a Walk
This is my favourite thing to do almost anywhere – I love to explore towns on foot, and get out in nature for some time out too. Berri has walking options for people who like short walks and long walks, and everything in between.
Here are some I recommend:
- Katarapko – part of the Murray River National Park, the Katarapko walks begin just the other side of the Berri bridge. There are two main walks, both of them long. The Katarapko Trail follows the river all the way to Lock 4, a return trip close to 20km. The Rodeo Trail is a 10km walk. There is also a shorter version of the Rodeo Trail that is 5km. We did half the Katarapko Trail, turning around at Bookie Cliffs, and I can recommend this walk for the great river views and the stunning red cliffs at the end. It is an up-and-back trail though, so you do see it all twice.
- Wilabalangaloo – this flora and fauna reserve is run by the National Trust and has a few short walks including one to a lookout over the river. This walk is only 300m each way. The whole Wilabalangaloo Trail is around 1.7km and includes other interesting landmarks along the way, such as the intriguing “Robbers Cave”.
- Riverfront Walk – this is an easy one right through the centre of town along the Murray. Call into the Visitor Information Centre and pick up a booklet that will guide you through the places of interest along the way, including A Special Place for Jimmy James, the Berri ferry landing and the impressive war memorial.
- Martin Bend Walking Trail – this loop walk is around 3km through the wetlands, leaving from near the Berri Marina. It is also referred to as the Lions Allan Thurmer Recreational Trail.
Taste the Local Fruit
It’s hard to miss all the citrus trees in the area, growing between the grapevines and the almond trees.
The citrus industry began here in the early 1900s, but while it is still important, the other crops have taken over a little as prices have fallen. You can still taste plenty of the local produce though.
Look out for the roadside stalls selling all the fruit at a great price. Not only will all the proceeds go directly to the farmer, you will be getting some of the freshest fruit available.
And if it’s anything like the mandarins we bought, they will be sweet and tasty too.
If you don’t want the fresh fruit, perhaps lookout for the town’s biggest brand – Berri fruit juices – in the supermarkets and have a taste that way.
Enjoy Views over the Murray
For views over the Murray River, head to the appropriately named “Scenic Lookout” on top of the hill at the end of the main street of Berri.
This old water tower (celebrating it’s 100th birthday in 2022) has been converted into a free lookout open from 9am to 5pm every day. From the top there are 360 degree views over Berri and the surrounding countryside.
For a second river view, take the short walk to the Wilabalangaloo lookout – which actually gives a better view of the river itself.
See The Big Orange
Unfortunately this one won’t take long as the Big Orange was closed to tourists in 2004. This was once perhaps the most popular of Berri attractions.
The current owner though is known to be keen to keep the Big Orange where it is and even open it up to visitors again in some format in the future.
Still, this is a great opportunity to tick off yet another of Australia’s Big Things, and it’s an easy stop on the highway to get that selfie.
Eat at Mallee Fowl
On my first visit to the Riverland, I was so disappointed to find the Mallee Fowl closed on the days we were visiting.
It is a themed restaurant out in the scrub, running entirely off the grid, and has been named the best themed restaurant in Australia. Originally opened in 1997, it’s now the oldest restaurant in the Riverland.
The next time we visited the area, I made it a point to eat here, booking a few days in advance to secure our table. And I have to say – you need to do the same!
This Australiana-themed restaurant is one of the quirkiest and most fun places I’ve been in ages.
Everywhere I looked there was something to make us smile, right from the signs at the front gate (“Free Beer Tomorrow!”) to the complaints box and the hot springs. And don’t forget the bats!
If all the Aussie paraphernalia doesn’t make you laugh, then Frank surely will.
He’s great fun to have to serve the guests – some typical Aussie humour had us all laughing along with a group of international students celebrating a birthday.
His wife Sue steadies the ship and makes sure everything is running smoothly.
Unlike many themed restaurants, the food here was top quality. The Beef & Reef was cooked perfectly, and my vegan risotto had so much flavour. I was especially impressed that there was a vegan dessert on the menu.
After the meal, there’s a whole yard to explore, with a selection of animals such as Emily the Emu who is happy to say hello! The best name award though goes to Christmas – the turkey!
While the restaurant might be out in the sticks, that doesn’t mean it’s a problem to get to and still enjoy a few drinks. Talk to Frank or Sue when you book, and they can arrange to pick you up and drop you home in Renmark or Berri.
Look for the Town Murals
There are a few great murals in the centre of Berri, so take a walk around to find them. They are not particularly hidden, so it should be an easy task.
The hardest to find might be the Berri Bridge Mural. Yes, there are signs, but we still drove past it the first time we were in the area, completely missing it.
You will need to get out of the car and take a walk to get under the bridge and admire the Aboriginal artwork here.
The original mural tells the Ngurunderi dreaming story of how the Murray was created. That original mural has now been immortalised as a sculpture and a new mural has appeared under the bridge itself.
Visit the Neighbouring Towns
Berri is perfectly located in the middle of many of the most popular Riverland towns.
It is only a few minutes to Renmark about twenty minutes to Loxton and fifteen minutes to Barmera, so it is the best place to stay if you are planning to visit many parts of the Riverland.
It’s also great if you are planning to do wine tasting all over the region too, as the cellar doors are spread far and wide.
If you are visiting Berri with children, then you will want to call into the nearby town of Monash to visit the Monash Adventure Playground.
I remember loving this as a kid, and it is still one of the best free things to do in Berri with kids.
There are really cool things to do like a flying fox and huge swings, a rope bridge and some epic leaning towers to explore. There are also free BBQs and picnic facilities, so this could make a great lunch stop.
And of Course, Enjoy the River!
If you have your own boat or jet ski, it’s clear you can enjoy time on the Murray River. But those are not the only ways. Try some of these activities
- go fishing
- pack a picnic and eat in in one of the many parks along the river bank
- bring your camera and get some great shots, especially at sunrise and sunset
- do some birdwatching, especially around the wetlands or on the walking trails
- take a scenic drive, crossing the bridge at Berri for more great river views
Where to Stay in Berri
For accommodation, Berri has only a few options. We stayed at the Big River Golf & Country Club and it was a comfortable stay. Rooms are motel style with all you need.
There is a swimming pool for those warmer days, and the rooms literally open up onto the golf course. Meals are served in the nearby Country Club.
This seems to be a popular choice as every room was full during our mid-week stay.
The other popular option for accommodation in Berri is the Berri Hotel. The benefit here is the location, right in the centre of Berri and on the banks of the Murray River.
While we didn’t stay here, we did eat dinner here one night and it looked good. They are also in the process of building some new accommodation, which look more like apartments and multi-room family options.
For caravan, camping and cabin options take a look at the Berri Riverside Holiday Park, which, as the name suggests, is again right on the river.
We drove past it a couple of times and it looked like a lovely park to spend a few days with some great facilities for kids and adults alike.
If you are looking for a holiday home with room for all the family, the Riverbush Holiday Cottages sleep up to six people. The cottages contain everything you need to feel like this is your home away from home.
Places to Eat in Berri
I’ve already mentioned the Mallee Fowl which I particularly recommend, but here are the other places we went to while we were in town
- Big River Golf & Country Club
- Berri Hotel
- River Jacks Cafe
My favourite was the River Jacks Cafe, right on the Murray and we had a delicious lunch there. They were accommodating of my plant-based requirements and the food was delicious.
I think the other two are probably quite decent too, but for me, they fell a little flat with the vegan options being not as good as their traditional fare.
Visiting more great South Australian locations? These posts might help
Things to do in Burra
Things to do in the Barossa Valley that Aren’t Wine Tasting
Barossa Hot Air Ballooning
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