Paringa

Paringa
Last town in the Riverland
Located 261 km north-east of Adelaide and only 4 km from Renmark, Paringa is a medium-sized town on the Murray River. It proudly claims to be the first town visitors reach in South Australia when they cross the border from the eastern states. It is said that the word 'paringa' means 'land near the river' but no one seems to be able to confirm this.

Prior to European settlement the area was inhabited by the Naralte Aborigines who were described by one early settler as 'very friendly and quickly picked up a smattering of English. They were willing to work ... and attempted to instruct the newcomers in their methods of hunting.' The river provided abundant food and they lived well off a diet of kangaroos, emus, wombats, goannas, lizards, ducks, turtles, fish, snakes and bird eggs. It is said that the word 'renmark' is derived from the local Aboriginal words meaning 'red mud'.

The first European into the area was Captain Charles Sturt who, being assigned to solve the great mystery of why so many rivers flowed westward from the Great Dividing Range (often known as the question of whether Australia had an 'inland sea') rowed a whale boat down the Murrumbidgee in late 1829 and reached the junction with the Murray River on 14 January 1830. He continued down Australia's largest river passing the present site of Renmark in late January and reached Lake Alexandrina, at the mouth of the river, on 9 February, 1830.

From this point onwards there was always the thought that the Murray River could be used for transportation and access to the western areas of New South Wales and Queensland. However it wasn't until the formal establishment of Goolwa as the port at the mouth of the Murray that this became a reality.

The area around Paringa did not acquire any importance until 1887 when George and William Chaffey signed an agreement with the South Australian government which led to the creation of an irrigation scheme which was to turn the entire area into one of the most productive in the country. The scheme to water the entire area was greeted enthusiastically with the Assistant Director of Kew Gardens in London declaring 'from these sunny lands where our sons and daughters have made their homes, we shall draw our future supply of fruit'. By 1892 the Chaffey experiment had collapsed. The Chaffeys created open drainage systems which watered the land.

In the 1890s 'Breaker' Morant worked in the local area on 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. He was subsequently executed by the British.

The town was proclaimed in 1916 after a local group held a meeting in 1911 and determined that they wanted to become independent of the District Council of Loxton. Today Paringa's chief appeal lies in its easy access to the Murray River and the range of excellent parks and vantage points over the river it offers to the curious visitor.

Things to see:

Paringa Suspension Bridge
Opened on 31 January 1927 the Paringa Suspension Bridge is one of only four across the Murray River. It still opens between 9.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. when the larger paddle steamers come through. See if you can be there when the Murray Princess passes by. The bridge looks down on the Paringa Council Marina which offers the visitor houseboats for rental.

Bert Dix Memorial Park
Opposite the Paringa Bridge this attractive park is an ideal resting stop for a picnic or a barbecue. There is also an excellent children's playground. It is also a popular place to launch boats onto the Murray River.

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The Black Stump
This is located on the Murtho Road. The claim is that this large stump is part of the root system of river red gum estimated to be about 500-600 years old. It measures over 8 metres across.

Murtho Forest and Heading Cliffs
Located 15km north from Paringa this is well worth exploring. Murtho Forest Landing has a parking area and a place for launching boats. It is surrounded by gum trees and willows and is peaceful and attractive. There is also an excellent view from Heading Cliffs, on the way to Murtho Landing, which is recognised as one of the finest vantage points on the shores of the river around this section. It offers excellent views of the cliffs on the Murray River from the lookout tower.

Lock 5
Always of interest along the Murray River are the locks which keep the water at a suitable depth. The point of visiting them is really nothing more than curiosity. It is interesting to watch the various boats which ply the river moving through the locks. Further along the road, past the Woodvale Holiday Village, is the Lock 5 Sandbar which is ideal for  sunbathing having an excellent and quite wide beach. Be warned: 18 people, at the last count, have died swimming in this area.  It is extremely dangerous.

Paringa Hotel/Motel
Sturt Hwy P.O. Box 136
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8595 5005
Rating: **

Mundic Grove Cottage
Sturt Hwy P.O. Box 45
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8595 5116
Rating: ***

Wilkadene Cottage
Murtho Rd
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8595 8188

Paringa Caravan Park
Sturt Hwy P.O. Box 82
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8595 5178
Facsimile: (08) 8595 5440
Rating: **

Paringa Caravan Park
Sturt Hwy P.O. Box 82
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8595 5178
Facsimile: (08) 8595 5440
Rating: **

Above Renmark Houseboats
Murtho Rd
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8595 8188

Coctails and Dreams Houseboats
Riverfront
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8523 2182, 0427 899 102
Facsimile: (08) 8523 2182

Houseboat Holidays
Lock 5 Rd P.O. Box 18
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8595 5128 or 018 842 741

Magnum Houseboats
Murtho Rd
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8586 5217

River Murray Houseboats
Lock 5 Marina
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8595 4598

Riverfun Houseboat
Lock 5 Rd P.O. Box 254
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8586 6069

Warriuka Houseboats
Lock 5 P.O. Box 74
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8595 5324 or 018 839 494

Paringa Hotel/Motel
Sturt Hwy
Paringa SA 5340
Telephone: (08) 8595 5005

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