Your Ultimate Guide to Mannum
6th April 2022
With a constant soundtrack of native birds, wild Murray River views and towering gum trees, the Murrylands region of South Australia is quintessentially Australian. Tucked away within the vast river region is Mannum, a small historic town supporting just over 2000 inhabitants.
Small and cosy in its nature, Mannum is utterly tranquil and shines bright with a vibrant heritage. Established due to the building and operation of a steamboat – The Mary Ann – Mannum boasts a fascinating history relating to paddle steamers and river trade. Today, visitors will be captivated by the friendly character of Mannum as well as its beautiful riverside scenery.
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Most commonly visited by South Australians seeking weekend escapes or summer vacations, it’s as though Mannum was made to be a getaway destination. Things to do in Mannum include a plethora of water-sports, including wakeboarding, boating, jet skiing and waterskiing, as well as a great deal of other activities. A fantastic golf course, bowling facilities and tennis courts offer plenty of opportunity for some social sports.
Meanwhile, those hoping to explore the town and its enchanting natural backdrop will be pleased to discover that canoeing and kayaking is available. A great deal of hiking paths and a bike trail cater to families and fitness fanatics, and luscious green sanctuaries teeming with wildlife welcome visitors looking to relax at the water’s edge. Mannum is a wonderful weekend getaway option for just about any kind of traveller.
A mere hour from Adelaide, Mannum is certainly not too far to travel for the night and caters perfectly for a longer getaway. What’s more, the striking change of scenery in comparison to Adelaide and its surrounding hills will blow you away, transporting you across states and into the wild.
Whether you’re looking to kick back and unwind or explore the meandering Murray River, Mannum might just be the place for your next South Australia Weekend Escape. Read on to discover everything you’ll need to know for your trip to Mannum.
Things to do in Mannum South Australia
Explore the waterfalls
Mannum waterfalls can be found close to the town of Mannum, providing guests to the beautiful Riverland region with a great opportunity for bush walking. Moderately steep trails which follow Reedy Creek all the way up to the falls, weave past bushland, cold rocky pools and tricking waterfalls all the way. After decent rainfall in the winter months, you will find the waterfalls at their fullest and most majestic. Nature lovers will find this spot thoroughly enjoyable due to the flourishing birdlife and scenic views that you’ll encounter across the entire trail. Allow yourself 2-3 hours to fully take in the scenery here.
Drive along the Murray River
If you’re new to the Murraylands region and looking for a general overview of the unique landscape, the Murray River Scenic Cliff Drive is certainly one to tick off. Following Younghusband Road along the eastern banks of the river, this 18km drive will take you on a journey through the most dramatic scenery around. Towering orange cliffs lining the river will take your breath away, and trees growing from the river beds and protruding from the surface are enchanting. Opt for this scenic drive and explore the remarkable banks of the Murray at your own pace. Make sure to stop as often as possible to witness the striking views.
Play a round of golf
Serving the surrounding Murraylands region, Mannum Golf Club is a perfectly placed spot for a round of golf. People of all ages and abilities congregate here to socialise over a friendly round of golf all week. Wander the nine hole fully-greened golf course and make your way trough the tree lined fairways on a sunny day. Golf lovers will enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and luscious green views here.
Take a day trip from Mannum
One of the best things about Mannum is its convenient location. In fact, whilst Mannum is only an hour from Adelaide, it is also less than an hour from the gorgeous Barossa Valley and bustling German town of Hahndorf. Swan Reach with its friendly small-town vibes, local pub and historic village centre is also only one hour away. In other words, base yourself in Mannum for a whole week and you’ll find yourself surrounded with potential for day trips. Head out in the morning from your accommodation in Mannum, and take a wine tour, have lunch at a German bakery, or spend a day by the river in Swan Reach – the possibilities are endless!
Set off on a river cruise
When it comes to things to do in Mannum, a visit to PS Marion should be on your list. PS Marion was built in 1897 as a way to carry cargo as well as passengers along the Murray River. In 1973, the National Trust bought PS Marion, later restoring the boat to be as wonderfully grand as dazzling as it is today. Experience the mysteries of the Murray upon this historic vessel and opt for a short cruise from Mannum. There is no better way to experience the history and beauty of the region.
Star gaze like never before
With artificial light dominating the night skies across the majority of our urbanised world, you’ll be surprised to hear that only an hour out of Adelaide you can feast your eyes on perhaps one of the most impressive sights you might ever see. The Murray River and surrounding region is not only beautiful in the day – trust us. The Murraylands attracts star gazers from all over the world, due to its phenomenally dark skies. In fact, the River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve is the first of its kind in Australia; there are only fifteen places in the world which come with this impressive title. To give you a better idea, night sky darkness is measured in units from 0-22 and here in South Australia’s Murraylands region, an impressive score of 21.97 has been given. Head outside into the depths of midnight darkness during your getaway to Mannum and experience the unspoken beauty of our night sky.
Explore Hermann Gass Bird Sanctuary
Found upon the banks of the Murray River at Mannum, is the famous Hermann Gass Bird Sanctuary. Adjoining to the next-door park, this beautiful oasis boasts tranquility and plenty of local wildlife. Boardwalks with are laced throughout allow for guests to explore the wetland protected area. Also find here a number of picnic facilities where you can sit with the family for the afternoon and enjoy a peaceful lunch.
Go to a Mannum museum
Whilst there are a great deal of things to do in Mannum for kids, much of this involves the outdoors. On a hot summer’s day, traipse the family down to the Mannum Dock Museum of River History and learn about the history of life by the majestic Murray River. Information about the famous Paddle Steamer Marion as well as Aboriginal histories and stories of the Murray’s major floods can all be found here. The rich and colourful history and interactive aspects here will even entertain the kids.
Relax at Mary Ann Reserve
Relax on the banks of the Murray River at Mary Ann Reserve during your weekend getaway to Mannum and soak up the leisurely atmosphere of riverside life. If you arrive by boat, park up and watch the world go by. If you come by foot, lay down your picnic blanket or settle in for a lunchtime barbecue. Mary Ann Reserve is the best place in Mannum to watch the world go by and admire those speeding by on jet-skis or water-skis. The kids will love it here too, what with a modern playground suitable for toddlers, all the way up to the 10-year old crowd. The houseboat theme of the playground brings a creative twist too!
Go canoeing or kayaking
Is there ever a more peaceful or romantic way to explore a place than by canoe or kayak? Be at one with the water during your Weekend Escape to Mannum and glide through the wild waters of the Murray, past fabulous waterfront properties, burnt-orange river banks and towering gum trees. This is absolutely one of the best things to do in Mannum. To hire a canoe or kayak, head over to Freedom Boat Hire and start exploring!
Walk Mannum’s historic trail
Around the town itself, guests are invited to take self-guided historic walks which tell stories of the history of Mannum. Walks of different lengths are clearly marked on a map and are easy to follow. The Randell walk takes visitors on a journey through the town, exploring its German heritage, the geology of the region and the history of Aboriginal people who are the original custodians of the land here. Alternatively, the shorter Shearer walk teaches visitors about early commercialisation surrounding the River Murray and the recreation that the river brought to the local communities. Whichever you choose, you will learn something new, and if you’re an keen hiker you’ll easily cover all three walks within the day.
Cruise along the Murray Plains Cycle Trek
Another excellent way to explore the natural surroundings of Mannum is by bike. Starting in the town of Mannum, the Murray Plains Cycle Trek slowly trails through a network of rural roads all the way to Sedan. Head off from your accommodation in Mannum in the morning, and follow markers across the total 54km distance which guide you in the right direction. Pass farming settlement areas and cruise through the wonderfully quiet countryside. Throughout your journey, expect to find trickling streams, orange tree-lined tracks, creek crossings, old stone farm buildings and grassy fields filled with sheep. If you’ve not travelled with your own bike, no problem. The visitor centre in Mannum now offers bike hire.
Cafes and restaurants in Mannum
The handful of cafes and restaurants in Mannum will certainly add a dash of local hospitality to your weekend getaway. Sprinkled across the town, you’ll find eateries, as well as couple of welcoming bakeries serving up fresh breads, pastries and other delicious baked goods. One great thing about the restaurants in Mannum, is that many of them actually line the river, taking advantage of the striking river views.
At Picklemee Grandma, enjoy some wholesome homemade food in the very centre of the town. Tuck into a delicious breakfast, opt for a leisurely lunch or simply drop by for a coffee after a morning stroll. Besides tasty meals, the cafe also sells arts and crafts, showing the artistic talent of the local area.
None of us can resist the tempting aromas of a great bakery, and Randell Street Bakery is no exception. Drop by this locally famous bakery to sample some warm, flaky delights or grab a coffee (which is known locally to be of a very high standard). Alternatively, at Mannum Motel, Cafe Mannum is a wonderful spot to sit with a drink and soak up views of the mighty Murray. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is available daily, made with the freshest of local ingredients, making it one of the most popular restaurants in Mannum. What’s more, you won’t be able to resist feeling totally relaxed here, as you watch birds flying overhead and boats gliding down the river.
SA Weekend Escape’s top hotel pick!
Located only an hour from Adelaide, Mannum offers Adelaideans a fantastically convenient and relaxing Weekend Escape spot. Looking for accommodation in Mannum? Take a look at our recommendation and take the next step in planning your weekend getaway.
Mannum Motel is a very popular choice for visits to this beautiful part of South Australia. Comfortable rooms which overlook the Murray River offer guests the ultimate Murraylands escape, whilst the casual and friendly vibes make you feel at home. A selection of different rooms, including corporate and family options invite all kinds of travellers. An excellent cafe on the ground floor is perfect for an evening glass of wine by the river, a morning coffee or a tasty meal.
Grab yourself a comfortable room at Mannum Motel and spend a relaxing weekend exploring the Murraylands region.