GRAZE YOUR WAY THROUGH THE RIVERLAND
Hands up who loves a flavour-packed grazing platter?
Well, no one does it better, or fresher, than the Riverland.
This place is the heart of fresh grazing snacks. So grab your friends, load up the car, pack your (empty) picnic basket and come for a drive to experience the source of your new favourite grazing plate. You can find some of the best places to stop to load up your basket on our interactive map here.
The beauty of the Riverland, is that while our producers, farmers, bakers, chefs, brewers and winemakers are dotted all around the countryside (you’ll quite literally see their produce along the side of the road everywhere you go), the best bits are available to taste, test, buy and enjoy at a few key stops along the way.
So let’s spend a day (or three) travelling through the gastronomic wonder that is the Riverland.
Your first stop:
If you’re coming from Adelaide, keep heading down the Sturt Highway to Banrock Station. The unique winery and wetland centre will blow your mind as soon as you pass through the rammed earth walls.
Here, you can sit on the deck overlooking the water and dine-in on a locally-inspired Riverland menu and flight of wines, or grab your picnic and head down one of the beautiful walking trails and boardwalks around the magnificent wetland system - you’ll probably appreciate the much-need leg stretch.
Banrock is extra-special, because this company is focussed on not only serving up sensational food and wine, but also decreasing their environmental footprint. They even make their wine bottles lighter to reduce freight emissions!
Seriously though – block out a few hours for Banrock so you can drink, eat, walk and explore. You might even be one of the first to test out their new spring menu, showcasing local produce. With a focus on reconnecting family and friends, Banrock has created antipasto style inspired grazing menus to suit everyone’s appetite, and remind people why the Riverland serves up the best fresh food in SA – this includes the signature Murray Cod dish (sustainably farmed).
Take some time to enjoy this eco wonder, and before you go, keep loading up that picnic basket with some of the goodies from their cellar door providore! You’ll find a few favourites here such as AlmondCo Almonds, Ausnat Fruits, Santalum Grove, Viva Olives and more.
[Tip: As you’re passing through Waikerie, stop in at Illalangi Gourmet Foods. Keryn and her team will greet you with the warmest smiles and richest flavours as they show you through their olive tapenades, homemade relishes, award winning wattleseed balsamic and fridges full of other goodies.]
Your second stop:
If you head back on to the highway and then on to Kingston Road, you’ll find Whistling Kite Wines. Here, you can book in for a wine and food ‘delight’ session experience to take in the best of this region, or if you’re feeling like you want more, and are heading just down the road from Loxton, you’ll find Salena Estate Wines and Cucina 837, an Italian family restaurant, championing local flavours in their food and wine.
Salena’s has even added in some specialised locally-flavoured cocktails and desserts – including a new almond cocktail and dessert! Plus, they use local citrus to flavour their hand-made limoncello range – a popular new addition to their long list of local tastes.
Both of these beautiful cellar doors provide wines, food, and fun. They also specialise in local produce – so you know you’re in for fresh food, and locally handcrafted boutique wines.
Your rest stop:
We’re guessing you’re probably about full by now, and in need of a rest, so why not book in for a couple of nights at either the Berri Hotel, or for something a little more premium, try Pike River Luxury Villas at the Riverland Wine Centre.
If you stay at Pike River – their onsite accommodation will blow your mind. These villas are absolute luxury, and include spas installed on the front deck overlooking the water, rooftop windows to the stars, premium fittings and design, and more.
Image: Jonathan Kissock
If you stay in Berri, make sure you stop in to River Jack’s Café, right along the waterfront. This place does a mean breakfast, and has the perfect view over the Murray River so you can enjoy breakfast in complete relaxation before heading out for a stroll to prepare for another day of tasting deliciousness.
Your third stop:
The Riverland Wine Centre has more than 26 local wineries at its cellar door.
Yes, we said 26.
Even better, is that you can taste these, plus enjoy magnificent Riverland produce and chef-prepared food while you’re onsite.
The Riverland Wine Centre might be one of the best kept secrets of the Riverland. This space, created by Pike River Villas and Pike River Wine owners (the Caire family) is all about introducing visitors to the best Riverland tastes. Here, they provide guided tastings of the wines (but you won’t have time to taste them all, so pick your favourites), while they serve up delicious gourmet meals, provide shelves and fridges full of local produce to takeaway and let you settle down on their lawns and decks on the edge of where the Pike River meets the Murray.
On the shelves to taste is more than 20 different producers – including everything from dried figs and choc-dipped apricots, to honey, award-wining dates, olives, pecans, almonds, capers, coffee, oils and more.
So choose your flavour and settle in for a day on the lawns at the Riverland Wine Centre where you can truly experience the source of the Riverland.
Your fourth stop:
Anywhere, and everywhere else.
If you’ve got the time – add these cool, quirky and tasty spots to your itinerary.
The Loxton Hotel is a great place to stop if you’re in the region’s south. These guys have just completed a massive redevelopment – and their bistro, café and beer garden are looking and feeling fabulous.
Image: Loxton Hotel
And if pubs are your thing, you can also check out the Berri Hotel’s front deck for a river view while you dine.
The Mallee Fowl Restaurant in Monash feels more like something you might stop at in northern Queensland, but is right here, only 2.5 hours from Adelaide. This themed and quirky stop uses local produce and even serves us kangaroo (for those keen to trying something different on the menu).
Another cool spot to stop for a look is Barmera’s Flavours of the Riverland (home of ‘Backyard Bread’). This rustic but tasty spot is worth adding to your visit list – with it’s locally inspired tasting platters, café and gourmet produce to take away.
One of the region’s most awarded wineries is 919 Wines, near Berri. These guys are open Wednesday to Sunday and offer a beautiful setting to bring along your own picnic (that you’ve collected throughout your trip) and settle in for some tastings of their premium and organic range. They’re pet-friendly too, so you can bring along your furry-friend and find a table, or picnic space outside on their lawns.
If you decide to head further north towards Renmark - some other great places to stop in are Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery, Arrosto Coffee, 23rd Street Distillery, Angove Wines and Eleni’s restaurant at Mallee Estate Wines. All of these spots provide exceptional food, drinks and service – and add to the producer experience you’ve already had on your way up to the top of the Riverland region.
Honestly though, no matter your palate, style or favourite flavours – you’ll be hard-pressed not to find something your tastebuds love in the Riverland. So whether it’s your first time, or a return back to the region after a long hiatus, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what’s on offer.
Follow the Mighty Murray Way and come for a drive soon. We can’t wait to meet you!