For national award-winning singer/songwriter Kelly Menhennett, Adelaide is her base for her busy
music career, but the Riverland will always be home.
Barmera born and raised on the family’s vineyard and orchard, Kelly frequently returns to the
Riverland to see her family, and to use a bit of ‘River time’ to unwind. She also finds the relaxed
lifestyle inspirational for her songwriting.
“I think it became more apparent to me after l left the Riverland how lucky I was to live there. It’s certainly a really special place.”
Kelly is a third-generation river girl. When she wasn’t helping out in the vineyard, she spent most of
her childhood days outdoors climbing trees, yabbying, playing with family and friends in and
around Lake Bonney, or in the nearby Murray River. During all of this, music was ever-present in
Kelly’s life, and her success today stems from her Mum, an acclaimed local singer who also found
some success on the national stage during the early 70s.
“I feel like everyone needs a little bit of River Time; cause life is getting so blooming fast. I feel that returning is like some sort of restoration for me sometimes, to go home and just get balanced again.”
But Kelly hasn’t always made a living from music. She was also a winemaker who specialised in
producing red wine at Berri Estates, before eventually deciding that playing after-hours gigs at local
restaurants and pubs might lead to a music career. It paid off handsomely, because Kelly is one of
the country’s most sought-after country/soul/roots musicians; with two CD’s to her name, a pocket
full of awards, and regular appearances at music festivals including WOMADelaide.
“I certainly developed an even greater appreciation of where I grew up through travelling. The more you see of the world, the more you think, Gosh! I'm so lucky to live in Australia and, in particular, to have been brought up in the Riverland.”
When she tours around the country, Kelly is keen to extoll the idyl lifestyle of the Riverland, as well
as the relaxed pace, and how the Riverland is on par with any other holiday destination in
Australia. Apart from the beautiful food and wine, and her love for Arrosto coffee, Kelly also praises
her favourite Riverland hangouts, like the Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery, Banrock Station, or
simply grabbing an ice cream and heading for the banks of beautiful Lake Bonney.
Kelly Menhennett, award-winning country/soul/roots musician
and Riverland Ambassador