Your Ultimate Guide to Murray Bridge
5th March 2021
Murray Bridge in a nutshell
Murray Bridge, sat upon the Murray River and found only an hour outside of Adelaide, will delight city-dwellers and those living in rural spots with its bustling streets and tranquil setting. Named very practically after its iconic bridge which crosses the Murray River, Murray Bridge was officially named in 1879 and has an extensive Aboriginal and European history.
However, today the town is most famous for offering visitors endless opportunities for water-sports, riverside relaxation, hiking as well as access to diverse food and drink. With its quintessentially South Australian scenery and meandering river views, Murray Bridge is one of the best bases for exploring this beautiful part of SA.
A weekend getaway from Adelaide
Experience a weekend escape to Murray Bridge and you’ll find yourself immersed in some of South Australia’s most unique scenery. Inside the town, shops, restaurants and various outdoor activities for kids as well as adults will keep the family entertained. Meanwhile, step foot outside of the town and you’ll discover wild and peaceful scenes, dramatically sliced in two by the Murray River. Boating, fishing, walking, swimming and a whole plethora of other outdoor activities allow you to make the most of the majestic river here.
There’s no better place to situate yourself for a escape to the countryside, and no more convenient spot to spend a weekend getaway from Adelaide. If you’re after a South Australia Weekend Escape this year, don’t hesitate to explore the possibility of spending your time in Murray Bridge. With an exciting and sparkling new hotel development on the way too (shown at the end of this article), a stay here has never been more enticing.
This Ultimate Guide to Murray Bridge offers an array of things to do. Browse the guide, gain some trip inspiration and start planning your relaxing trip by the river. Weekend getaways don’t have to be far away from home!
Things to do in Murray Bridge
Discover ‘The Bend’ with your motorsport-loving friends
The Bend Motorsport Park is an award winning motorsport facility which opened in 2018 in nearby Tailem Bend. The unique and world-class facility offers: circuit racing, a purpose-built drift circuit, a karting circuit, a rally-cross circuit, a driver training facility, a 4WD adventure park and a rally/off-road facility. Those visiting the area who have a need for speed can drive around the tracks by paying for a once in a lifetime experience. For more information, click here!
Take a trip to Sturt Reserve
Quite possibly the place with most potential for fun and excitement in Murray Bridge is Sturt Reserve. The reserve is set upon the banks of the majestic Murray and lines the water, spanning the major waterway. Head here to cool down and dip your feet in as you sit on the riverbank watching the world go by. Take a stroll along the foreshore and watch local wildlife, including numerous species of native birds.
Sturt Reserve – as well as providing gorgeous river views and birdlife – features a children’s playground, tennis courts, dining opportunities, jetties and a community club. Yet the most popular activity to take part in here, is any kind of activity that involves the water. Boating, rowing, swimming, wakeboarding, fishing and water skiing are highly encouraged at Sturt Reserve; there’s no better place to give it a go.
Meanwhile, as you explore the wonderful reserve, look out for information about the local Bunyip and learn about the historical significance of the Murray River and in particular Murray Bridge, to local Aboriginal communities.
Explore the Captain’s Cottage Museum
Murray Bridge has a rich and interesting history. This starts with the local Ngaralta people who had for a long time referred to Murray Bridge as Moop-pol-tha-wong, meaning ‘heaven for birds’. In 1873, Europeans arrived in the area and built a bridge over the wild Murray River in order to facilitate trade and the growth of the town of Murray Bridge. The Captain’s Cottage Museum captures the intricate European history of Murray Bridge under one roof, offering visitors a look at historic engines, photographs, toys, trains, boats and more. Named after Captain Adam Johnstone, his wife and nine children, the Captain’s Cottage Museum offers a step back in time and a peek into the early 1900s.
Relax on a river cruise from Murray Bridge
Of all the things to do in Murray Bridge, there’s likely nothing more tranquil than taking a river cruise. Sit back, relax and enjoy South Australia’s Murrayland region as you glide across the water in a historic paddle boat cruise. Captain Proud Paddle Boat Cruises offers the opportunity to soak up the quiet setting and abundant wildlife whilst being served delectable cuisine and refreshments, all from the comfort of a dining room or open-air deck.
With the captain providing an informative commentary, you’ll walk away with a relaxed aura and some interesting context about the Murray River. For those who enjoy lunch with a view, a delightful three hour lunch cruise will cater to your needs. Alternatively, a Saturday dinner cruise offers a romantic setting for dinner during your weekend getaway.
Go bowling with the kids
Murray Bridge offers a great deal of adventure for kids, however if you’re looking for a way to spend the evening, why not traipse the whole family to Bridge Bowl for some ten pin bowling. Situated within Murray Bridge itself, this ten pin bowling alley is equipped with automatic scoring and overhead screens. On Friday and Saturday night, glow bowling – played with glow in the dark pins and balls – is a novel way to add a bit of excitement to your bowling.
Hire a boat from Murray Bridge
When in Murray Bridge, you should do as the locals do. Specifically, that means trying out some water sports. The wide river and flat water make the Murray River perfect for all sorts of water-based activities. Particularly popular are waterskiing and wakeboarding. Get your hands on your very own boat for the weekend, and whizz around the waterways as you soak up the summer sun. At Murray Bridge Ski Boat Hire, rent a boat and take to the majestic Murray at your own will. Boats are equipped with stereo systems, wakeboards, skis and tubes, ensuring that the whole family can take part.
Play a round of golf
During a weekend getaway to Murray Bridge, a round of golf offers a fantastic way to soak up the luscious scenery and to simply relax. Surrounded by lofty gum trees, Murray Bridge Golf Club’s sweeping lawns set the scene for a calm afternoon under the Murraylands sun. This popular golf course is one of the best in South Australia and boasts around 500 local and non local members. The 18 holes here will keep you occupied for hours.
Go to a Murray Bridge art gallery
Murray Bridge is bursting with heritage and is known for its artistic appreciation. The historic town hall of Murray Bridge and the local regional gallery have recently been transformed into a new cultural precinct for residents. A gallery, sculpture court and a performance space are found here. At Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, find a plethora of diverse art exhibitions including anything from Aboriginal art to sculpture. Time it right, and you might be in town a workshop or event that ties in with your interests.
Explore a world-class safari park
Formerly known as Monarto Zoological Park, Monarto Safari Park is a 1500 hectare open-range zoo home to more than 50 species of animals. Exotic creatures as well as native Australian birds and reptiles are found here. Meanwhile, lions, giraffes and other African animals enjoy the warm South Australian climate. You might be interested to know, that if you patched together all of Australia’s zoos and laid it over Monarto, you’d still have land left over. This place is huge and without a doubt one of the best things to do in Murray Bridge.
Over the years, Monarto Safari Park has been praised for its wonderful breeding success, with the latest addition being a rhino, born mid 2020. Take a bus through the open-range exhibits, or opt to walk some of the walking tracks. Either way, you’re guaranteed to enjoy a day out here.
Explore the Murray by kayak
You don’t have to have a boat licence to enjoy the waters of the majestic Murray River, and you don’t have to be a wakeboarding adrenaline junkie either. Another way to lap up the magic of the majestic Murray and quintessentially Australian countryside is by kayak. At Freedom Boat Hire, pick up a kayak for one or two people, or opt for a stand up paddle board, and explore the meandering river as you drift down at your own pace. Take some water and a snack and spend a day on the Murray as it was intended.
Visit a local Murray Bridge winery
The burnt orange banks of the Murray host a great deal of wineries. North of Murray Bridge, you’ll find a selection of wineries you can drop into for cellar door experiences and tastings. However, very close to Murray Bridge you’ll find Willow Point, a soothing spot in the heart of the Murraylands, blanketed in vines. There’s no need to travel far, if you’re looking for something truly local.
Pop into the casual cellar door and sample reds, whites and roses from the winery’s impressive collection. At the onsite bottle shop, Australian made crafts, spirits, ciders, beers and wines are found. Stay for longer and sip on a coffee, nibble on a cheese platter or devour a homemade scone.
Part of any relaxing weekend escape from Adelaide will likely involve either a quick stroll or an adventurous hike through South Australia’s natural landscapes. Murray Bridge is no exception, and you’ll find plenty of options for families as well as adventure seeking couples. The Lavender Federation Trail is a long distance trail which extends all the way to Clare. Whilst you might not be able to fit the whole 325km into your weekend getaway, you might like to take to the trail for a day and explore the surrounding countryside. This extensive hiking trail begins at the beautiful Sturt Reserve, and from here you’ll wind through wetland systems, across the banks of the Murray, past historic buildings and through the Rocky Gully Reserve.
Alternatively, at Kinchina Conservation Park, a handful of shorter hikes are perfect for families. A 2.5km loop here is ideal for a breath of fresh air. For more local walks and hikes in the region, including the Coorong please click here.
Cafes and restaurants in Murray Bridge
You’re likely to be surprised by the wining and dining you can partake in in Murray Bridge. Stepping up its game in recent years, a few quirky and friendly cafes and eateries have emerged in the town, whilst you’ll also find some classics for pub food and hearty dinners. Head to Riverscape Restaurant on the forefront of the River Murray and indulge in a quality meal, all the while gazing across the river and soaking in the relaxing views. Alternatively, at Murray Bridge Club, choose from a range of classics and discover the local vibrant atmosphere whilst you sip on a crisp and cold local wine or craft beer.
The somewhat new and contemporary Eat House in Murray Bridge is a cafe, offering guests a chilled environment for a catch up. Opt for breakfast or lunch, or simply a barista made coffee, and sit in the outdoor seating area at the weekend to watch the world go by. Steamers Cafe is a local favourite and highly rated amongst the community. Pop in for a takeaway coffee or sit back and relax with a homemade muffin, cake or scone.
Winter Wine Offer
This winter – upon opening – the Bridgeport Hotel will be offering a free bottle of Penfolds wine for those who book direct on the hotel website. For more information about this Winter Wine Offer and to find out which other hotels in South Australia will be taking part in this deal, click here.
SA Weekend Escape’s top hotel pick!
Only an hour by car from Adelaide, a weekend getaway to Murray Bridge is perfect for those without much time to travel long distances.
Why not start the weekend right with a night in the newest contemporary hotel in Murray Bridge? The Bridgeport Hotel – opening in June 2021 – is a six storey building fitted out with awesome facilities, raising the bar for hotels in the area. Boasting a sports bar, lounge bar, two dining areas, alfresco bar, outdoor pool and gymnasium, there’s really no better place to stay in Murray Bridge. In fact, beyond Murray Bridge, the Bridgeport Hotel will be placed amongst the very best of hotels in South Australia after its completion.
Grab yourself a contemporary and stylish room at the Bridgeport Hotel and spend a weekend exploring the tranquil scenes and wild Australian countryside of which encapsulate Murray Bridge.
Click here to keep an eye on the fantastic new developments at the Bridgeport Hotel.