Driving the Lower Darling River

The Lower Murray River Run:

Lower Darling River Tour - There are ways to drive from Wentworth to Adelaide or vice versa, but a trip along the lower Murray River would be the most beautiful way. Adding something special like the 'road less travelled' makes it an even more exquisite experience. 

The upstream point of this adventure is Wentworth at the Murray-Darling confluence, a town described by Charles Sturt as "Magnificent trees droop like willows to the water's edge with evening's mildest radiance in their foliage, throwing a soft haze over the distance...

The downstream point of this touring route is Lake Alexandrina, a vast body of fresh water 37 km long and 21 km wide. In the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime, the lake was inhabited by a monster known as the Muldjewangk.

Wentworth to Lake Alexandrina

Distance: 548 km

This 'road less travelled' route is suitable for all types of vehicles and perfect for caravans and RVs. 

For those in a hurry, the direct route between Wentworth and Wellington East near the mouth of the Murray as it enters Lake Alexandrina is 341 km, but where is the fun in that?

The adventure route is 200 km further, but the extra distance enables a greater experience of the towns and landscapes of the lower Murray River which includes the more majestic vistas synonymous with the long broad reaches of the Murray River and the sandstone cliffs that the river has worked over eons.

Renmark SA

The Murray River town of Renmark is synonymous with fruit production. It is set beautifully along Australia’s longest river, characterized by wide streets and riverbank parklands.

Limes, Olives, oranges, plums, apricots, and grapes flourish in the area today, but that was only made possible by the efforts of the Chaffey brothers (George and William), who, in 1887, signed an agreement with the South Australian government to create an irrigation scheme in the area; a first for Australia. However, it was short-lived and only became successful after it was agreed that the distribution channels be moved underground (1959).

The name Renmark is attributed to the First Nation’s word meaning Red Mud.

Today, the town is a popular tourist destination where it is possible to enjoy the majesty of the Murray by hiring a bicycle and cycling along the riverbank, hiring a canoe or kayak and paddling along the river, or visiting the historic PS Industry and Argo Barge moored at the river's edge.

Five Interesting Facts:

  • In the 1890s, 'Breaker' Morant worked in the local area at the Paringa Station. When Paringa Station went broke Morant and two of the boys from the station joined the Bushveld Carbineers and served in the Boer War. The British subsequently executed him.
  • In 1897, the Renmark Community Hotel became the first community-owned hotel in the British Empire.
  • The explorer Captain Charles Sturt rowed a whaleboat down the Murrumbidgee in late 1829 and reached the junction with the Murray River on 14 January 1830. He passed the present site of Renmark in late January and reached Lake Alexandrina on 9 February 1830.
  • In 1901, the Chaffey Brothers started building the town wharf. It was completed in 1905.
  • The infamous 1956 flood decimated the town.


The township of Morgan was surveyed in 1878 and named after the twice Governor of South Australia, Sir William Morgan, and has played an integral part in the history of the Murray River. The local indigenous population referred to the area as `Koerabko’, meaning a place for good honey and a meeting place for the tribes.

As for its role in the river's history, NSW and Victoria held claim to certain rights and commercial advantages over the Murray and Darling rivers, as NSW had a railhead at Bourke on the Darling, while Victoria had it at Echuca on the Murray. Both provided a way to connect the opening interior of the country with river transport that could be linked to their capital cities via rail. The South Australian government of the time also wanted to secure a similar link to their capital, Adelaide, and its port.

Morgan became a central hub of the country’s growing pastoral development, bringing the wool clip from outlying areas to the Port of Adelaide for shipping back to England. The growth of Morgan was rapid, and it was soon servicing six trains a day to Adelaide with the five steam-operated cranes on the wharf operating 24 hours a day unloading boats and barges.

Morgan grew as the river transport businesses boomed. The booms also led to the inevitable oversupply of river vessels. With the advent of increased efficiency and coverage of the rail network, this was the beginning of the end of the rail/river era.

Its swansong came with the amalgamation of all the riverboat companies to form the Murray Shipping Ltd, which was bolstered by the business to supply materials needed for building the locks and weirs of the Murray River.

The decline of the river trade after the ’20s meant the regression of towns like Morgan. Fortunately, the importance of its rich history is being realized and preserved by facilitating ways for future generations to appreciate that the river is an integral part of our history and who we are as a nation.