Note (December 2022): I first had the pleasure of experiencing Murray River National Park in March 2022, but I haven't written about the experience until now. Currently, the South Australian Riverland is experiencing historically high flood levels as a result of the increased rainfall and flooding upriver in New South Wales and Victoria. The Murray River National Park is closed for camping, and the River Murray is closed to recreational boat traffic. The surrounding towns are experiencing devastating flooding. These regions are beautiful and interesting places to visit. While I encourage everyone to visit, please do so safely and check the current safety advice. It might be best to wait until early 2023 when the danger decreases. Once it does, please visit the areas and support the businesses in the Riverland towns to assist in their recovery.
I wake up to the splash of a large bird softly gliding into the water as the sunlight brightens the inside of our tent. When I exit the tent, I am delighted to spot a pelican slowly paddling upriver. Apart from a few bird calls, the surroundings of our Murray River National Park campsite are calm and quiet.
Murray River National Park Campsites
Camping along the river is extremely peaceful and the Murray River National Park has 99 secluded campsites to choose from with a variety of activities to keep visitors busy during the day.
Murray River National Park is located 3 hours north of Adelaide between the Riverland towns of Loxton and Renmark. Its distance from Adelaide, nearness to country towns, and spread-out campsites make the park an ideal weekend adventure for new and experienced campers.
The campsites are separated into two sections, Katarapko Campground and Lyrup Flats, and are spread across a large section of the park’s 100 km stretch along the River Murray. Their distance from each other provides campers with a feeling of seclusion and immersion in nature, despite being surrounded by potentially hundreds of other campers and a short drive from town.
The park’s campsites are huge; the smallest sites have space for up to 8 guests, with many options for 16 to 24 visitors. The unpowered sites are suitable for tents, camper trailers and caravans and are perfect for groups that like to set up a communal area while still having space for separate tents around the site. The relatively flat sites can be accessed by 2WD vehicles in dry conditions, and some are near a long-drop toilet. Many of the sites are located on the shores of either the River Murray or Katarapko Creek, with some suitable for launching a canoe or boat.
River Murray National Park’s website has good descriptions of each campsite, including percentages of shade and slope. The website is also where campers can pre-book their preferred campsite.
Hiking, Canoeing, and Kayaking
Maps for hiking and biking trails – two of the popular activities in the park – can also be found on the park’s website. There are several trails within the park ranging from 1.25 km to 20 km in length.
The Ngak Indau Wetland Trail is an easy and fairly flat 3.2 km loop walk in the Katarapko section open to walkers and mountain bikers. The trail has its own car park off Lock 4 road, 6 km from the Lock 4 Entrance to the park. The short trail takes in several landscape changes and has a bird hide and a picnic table. It is a good trail for birdwatching and kangaroo spotting, but we did also encounter a lot of ants.
Water activities are also very popular in the park. The waterways vary from the mighty Murray with strong currents and views of cliffs and sandbars to the quiet and sometimes very narrow and stagnant smaller creeks. Eckert and Katarapko creeks are two of the major creeks that run through a large part of the park.
Canoeing on the creeks is an excellent way to get into the heart of the park in areas otherwise inaccessible by a trail. One day, we packed a sandwich lunch and spent more than an hour discovering the park by kayak from Sawmill and Eckert creeks in solitude surrounded by trees and bird calls.
On another day, we went upriver on the Murray until we reached Lock 4 where we stopped along the shore to sip a beer and enjoy the views of the granite cliffs. The return trip with the current to our campsite took half the time and we stopped on a small beach to cool off in the river.
Nighttime in the park is as spectacular as the rest of the day. The sun sets were fiery orange and red, silhouetting the park’s tall gum trees like in a painting, and at dusk we watched kangaroos across the river come out from the gum trees to get a drink.
With the sun gone and very little civilisation around, the stars light up the night sky. They are thick enough to see the milky way, and between the stars and the campfire across the way, the river is illuminated in the dark.
At night the river appears especially calm, waiting for the birds to retun in the morning.
Murray River National Park is 3 hours north of Adelaide in the Riverland between the towns of Loxton and Renmark.
Driving is the best way to get to Murray River National Park. From Adelaide, take the Northern Connector/Northern Expressway (M2) and Sturt Highway (A20). Just after Bamera your directions might change slightly depending on which part of the park you are visiting. Head toward Winkie for the Katarapko Creek section, via Berri for the Lock 4 entrance, or Renmark for the northern section of the park.
There are plenty of small towns and places to stop between Adelaide and the park.
- Nuriootpa: One of the main towns of the Barossa Valley wine region
- Blanchetown: A riverside town situated alongside Lock 1
- Waikerie: A large rural centre on the river with some interesting Silo Art to view
- Barmera: This makes for an easy petrol stop. There are two that can be accessed without having to leave the Sturt Highway and head into town.
- Berri: A large rural centre on the river, it sits by Lock 4 and the park. Berri is a good place to stock up on any supplies that you may have forgotten, or fresh fruit. The Riverland towns and national park sit within the fruit fly exclusion zone.
Campsites start at $13.50 per night and should be pre-booked online.
There are picnic areas, campfire areas and toilet blocks located at various locations throughout the park. Not all campsites have facilities nearby.
Opening Hours and Fees
The park is open 24/7, but closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger. It may also be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger or during potential flooding events. Check the park’s website for current details.
Food & Beverage
Bring what you need for your visit, including drinking water. However, you will need to purchase any fruit inside the Riverland fruit fly exclusion zone. It is possible to stop into Berri for additional supplies or to visit the pub.
It is also possible to fish for yabbies and golden perch in the river.
Mobile coverage was good inside the park.
2 replies on “Camping at Murray River National Park”
Let’s hope we can camp alongside the river again after the waters recede. There will be a lot of repair work needed though sadly.
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Yes. Unfortunately I think it will probably be a long time before they are able to fully recover and repair all the damage both in the towns and the parks.
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