Our guide to keeping the kids happy with an escape to the river these school holidays

Did your family have plans to go interstate these school holidays, only to have the borders close? Lots of South Australians are in the same situation with the new COVID restrictions.

We understand it’s quite disappointing to be another step further away from taking the kids to make unforgettable family memories along our Mighty Murray, but we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to break the news to them.

There’s plenty of exciting riverside properties from Murray Bridge to Caurnamont or as far up river as Morgan, to base yourself where you can make the most of these holidays doing as much or as little as you feel.

Keep reading for some ideas on how you can treat yourself and the family (without COVID ruining plans).

Day Trips:

There’s plenty to see around the Mannum area during winter!

But before you get here, why not stop in at Monarto Safari Park first. It’s a perfect couple of hours out for all ages. Try and name something kids love more than animals – go on, we’ll wait!

Right now, the safari park has a specialty program set out for the July school holidays, so there’s less planning needed on your end (and it’s FREE!) – we can hear all parents give a collective sigh of relief.

Included in the program is the opportunity to get in touch with nature and wildlife with the Meet the Keeper experience. It allows kids to get the best views of the animals enjoying a treat or playing with toys during their visit. Stay for the keeper’s talks and gain a fascinating insight during feeding time. It’ll be something they’ll never forget.

There’s also some specialty NAIDOC week activities for a culturally enriching experience, with this year’s theme ‘Heal Country!’. They can learn some Ngarrindjeri language while travelling around the park with an activity trail map. It’ll be a great experience for you and the kids.

A couple other noteworthy experiences to include in your stay is a visit to the Mannum Dock Museum for some interactive learning, a short river cruise with Four Knots Cruises or the PW Mayflower, the Mannum Waterfalls, or a hire free bikes from the Mannum VIC and explore the township. And you can’t go past a playground (or a few) – check out a list of local playgrounds here.


In terms of what food you can taste during your trip, the Murray River, Lakes and Coorong region has an abundance of hearty winter options at local restaurants and cafes that will help warm you up after a big day exploring the riverside.

One that stands out, is the Pretoria Hotel in Mannum, situated on the riverbank with great big windows and a decking area that overlooks the serene riverside. They have a tasty kids menu, so you won’t have to worry about the classic “I don’t know what I want” tantrum. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there!

There’s also the Swan Reach Hotel – its country pub feel brings locals and visitors together, so you might even make some friends.

For a quick bite, try the Bowhill General Store or the various bakeries along Mannum’s Randall Street.

And if you really want to treat the family, try the newly opened $45 Million revamped Bridgeport Hotel in Murray Bridge.


We already know your family will want a cosy place to come home to after a big day on the water or exploring the area, and we’ve got just the properties to suit your budget and your tastes.

For families with older kids, the “Whistling Kite” in Mannum Waters offers waterfront access and a private pontoon making it perfect for those who love leisurely outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing or stand up paddleboarding.

The open plan living area will make for lots of family time and the bunk beds mean that two can fit in one room. And of course, the view of the river will knock your socks of every morning without fail.

107 Providence Drive in Bowhill offers a cosy escape with large, manicured lawns leading to the river’s edge (perfect for lawn games) and a jetty for those that love a fish. If you have the grandparents or additional family members tagging along, there is the option to hire the onsite caravan for extra guests.

107 Providence drive Bow Hill

14 Randell street is the ultimate family home with plenty of fenced in area to keep the kids or pets safe, plus your own jetty to use your fishing or docking your boat. Its bunk beds allow for two little ones in the same room, and a living area that’s made for family time with big open space and river views.

A few of our other favourites are:

Or check out some other options here, and be quick to lock in a river escape for your family these school holidays.

So, if you take one thing from this blog, let it be that the borders closing doesn’t mean that you’re missing out on anything – there’s so much to see in your own backyard!