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Murray River Trails

Murray River Safari

  • Available from: March 01 2024 - April 30 2024
  • Available from: October 01 2024 - November 30 2024

From: $1,460 USD

Duration: 4 days/3 nights

Type: Groups, Private Charter, Shared.

Departs: Mondays

Interests: Birds.

Experience the diverse wildlife offerings where Australia's river oasis meets the outback. This multi-activity wildlife safari along Australia's greatest river includes guided walks, canoeing, an outback drive and open back cruising, combined with luxurious houseboat accommodation and superb dining including local wines.

  • Spot Koalas, Kangaroos, Australian Pelicans, Royal Spoonbills, Black Swans and Darters from the comfort of a private pontoon cruiser.

  • Canoe through tranquil backwaters teeming with birdlife including ducks, darters, cormorants, kites and parrots, along with the opportunity to spot Western Grey Kangaroos and Lace Monitors.

  • Take a guided walk through majestic River Red Gum forests, mallee woodlands and across dramatic cliff tops, home to Wedge-tailed Eagles, honeyeaters, parrots and migratory Rainbow Bee-eaters whilst connecting with the river though the stories of inspiring guides.

  • Participate in Citizen Science to conserve key species and explore vast ephemeral lakes, providing habitat for over 180 bird species. Admire the feats of migratory waders from the northern hemisphere. 

About Murray River Safari: 

Murray River Safari was founded by proud Riverland locals and passionate Murray River champions, Tony & Susie Sharley in 2020. Raising the profile and advocacy for Australia’s greatest river is central to the organisation's mission, through sharing the stories of the region's wildlife, landscapes, history, culture, people and environmental challenges. Recently, the team has established the Murray River Trails Fund, supporting organisations at the forefront of improving the region’s biodiversity, river floodplain health and status of threatened species in the region.

Price per person based on twin share houseboat accommodation, including touring & meals. Single supplements apply. Black-out dates may apply. Pricing is subject to availability and all prices, itineraries and routings are subject to change without notice. Currency fluctuations may affect prices as quotes based on AUD. Prices are current at time of posting (1/11/2023) and may differ when you book your travel. Please contact us for our current pricing and itinerary details.*


Tour day-by-day

  • Day 1 (Mon): Cruising the River and Cultural Walk

    At 11.30am meet your Murray River Safari guides at the Hotel Renmark conference room. Your guides will provide a brief introduction to the Murray River before you board our pontoon cruiser and begin a 25km cruise upstream though old growth redgum and red ochre-coloured cliffs that flank the river.

    You'll start familiarising with river country with keen eyes scanning the tree lines for Koalas. There are abundant opportunities to spot birds including Australian Pelicans, Australasian Darters, Black Swans and Yellow-billed Spoonbills.

    You'll be welcomed to your luxurious houseboat accommodation where you'll enjoy lunch and settle in before setting off on a cultural walk, through river country. The evening is spent on the houseboat admiring the cliff colours at sunset from the top deck or in the spa, enjoying the harmonious calls of Whistling Kites soaring above, before your guides prepare a dinner paired with local wines to complete the day.

    Tony Sharley - Murray River Trails Guide“The Rainbow Bee-eaters are fascinating and you can set your clock by them. They arrive from northern Australia in the first week of October and stay until the first week in April. They come here to breed and dig out tiny tunnels in the sandy cliffs found on either side of the river valley. They build their nests inside those tunnels.”

    Tony Sharley - Founder & Guide

    After dinner, take an optional nocturnal walk, stargazing at constellations in the night sky, spotting Brush-tailed Possums for an important citizen science project and occasionally Tawny Frogmouths.

    Accommodation: Houseboat

  • Day 2 (Tue): Sunrise Experience, Kayaking & Regent Parrots

    Rise before the sun to hear the birdsong and walk a gentle slope to the rim of the Murray River valley for a spectacular sunrise. Watch the vibrant colours of the river come to life, and spot busy Rainbow Bee Eaters catching insects. After breakfast, meet your canoe guide for a morning paddle through incredibly picturesque meandering creeks and serene backwaters that make up the Riverland Ramsar Wetland of International Significance.

    This provides a perfect opportunity to silently approach wildlife on the river's edge, with Western Grey Kangaroos, cormorants, darters, ducks, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Yellow Rosellas and Mallee Ringnecks all sighting opportunities. Quiet paddling is a great way to spot a goanna on a tree or a spectacular sacred kingfisher.

    Arriving back at the houseboat, you'll start a two-hour houseboat cruise upstream to Chowilla Creek. As you cruise upstream, relax and enjoy the view as lunch is prepared by your guides.

    After lunch you'll explore on foot the forests and wetlands at your new location watching and listening carefully for noisy flights of Regent Parrots. Retire early after a long day capped off with local fare.

    Guides - Tony SharleyWe spend the bulk of our time in the Riverland Ramsar wetlands, which is home to more than 180 species of birds. We can see migratory water birds, local black swans, ducks, honeyeaters, and several species of parrots including the vulnerable Regent Parrot, and raptors including the Wedge-tailed Eagle. Two of our smallest birds, the Red-capped Robin and the Mistletoebird, are celebrated when sighted because of their brilliant red plumage.”

    Tony Sharley - Founder & Guide

    Accommodation: Houseboat

  • Day 3 (Wed): Outback Lakes Tour & Migratory Birds

    Awake to the glorious dawn chorus and aromas of fresh coffee to awaken you from a restful sleep on the river. You will enjoy a hearty breakfast whilst peering out at the sunlight radiating on the cliffs and spectacular reflections across the mighty Murray.

    After an early breakfast, you'll set off on a driving tour of the great ephemeral lake system on the outer floodplain where spectacular birdwatching includes migratory waders that have travelled from the northern hemisphere, thousands of ducks, pied stilts, red-necked avocets, spoonbills and musk ducks. Expect to see blue-bonnets, emus and their chicks, and magnificent red kangaroos as we drive across country between the lakes.

    White-winged Fairy-wrens, White-winged Trillers, Swamp Harriers and Whistling Kites may also be spotted in this area and an occasional Wedge-tailed and White-bellied Eagles may visit.

    We return to find the houseboat in a new location opposite the spectacular Bunyip Reach Cliffs above lock 6. Take in the sunset from the top deck spa with sundowners, before a locally-focused three-course meal completes this epic day.


  • Day 4 (Thu): Houseboat Cruise & Farewell BBQ

    After breakfast and an optional stroll on the riverbank, we cruise leisurely down river and transfer through lock 6, on the way to our final mooring and departure point. We celebrate our experience over a BBQ lunch on the top deck, before farewelling the river and returning to the Hotel Renmark at 2pm. 

    Houseboat Accommodation 

    The houseboat is your lodge-based accommodation, moored in spectacular locations. Your bedroom room offers stunning views of the river and you can watch from your bed as pelicans fly by. In the evenings, relax in the houseboat lounge and share stories with your fellow travellers as your guides prepare a superb nightly meals.

    Murray River Safari tours operate on our new luxury houseboat High River and feature ensuite bedrooms.

    High River 04

    Houseboats are the perfect option for ecologically-minded travellers, maintaining a low impact activity on the river system. Groups abide by a ‘leave no trace’ policy and all waste is taken onshore to be composted, recycled or disposed of appropriately.

  • Tour details

    Shared Group Size: Maximum of 10 guests, with two guides accompanying guests on the Safari.
    Pick-up and Drop Off Point: Safari journeys depart and return to the Renmark Hotel
    Pick-up and Drop-off Time: Approximately 11:30am on Day 1 and 2:00pm on Day 4.

    Recent Awards

    WINNER Hall of Fame & Winner South Australian Tourism Award Ecotourism 2022 • 2019
    WINNER South Australian Tourism Award Ecotourism 2022 • 2021 • 2018 • 2017
    SILVER Australian Tourism Award Ecotourism 2021 • 2017

    How you'll be making a positive impact

    We have aligned our sustainability vision with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
    E-WEB-Goal-15Citizen Science with Murray River Trails

    Murray River Trails contributes observations of flora & fauna via iNaturalist, the world’s leading global social biodiversity network. This platform allows our team to create research-quality citizen science data that enables a more detailed picture of our national biodiversity, and assists bodies such as the CSIRO, ecologists and other decision makers to deliver better outcomes for the environment and our species.

    Our guides record observations with iNaturalist Australia by using the iNaturalist app on mobile phones or desktop computers. An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location in the Riverland. We require photos to be attached to observations for them to become research grade and added to the Atlas of Living Australia.

    This is where you can greatly assist us in capturing images out in the field! Although we make broader observations that we think are valuable to the local scientific community, we have identified the following species to track when we are exploring the Riverland by houseboat, kayak, vehicle or on foot.

    Key species we're looking out for include:

    • Brush-tailed Possum
    • Short-beaked Echidna
    • Regent Parrot
    • Red-capped Robin
    • Bush Stone-curlew
    • Rakali
    E-WEB-Goal-06Championing Environmental Flows for the Murray River

    Murray River Trails have established the Murray River Trails Fund, to raise money for organisations at the forefront of improving the region’s biodiversity, river floodplain health and status of threatened species in the region. Up until the 1920s, the rivers flowing in the Murray-Darling Basin, made up of Australia’s most famous two rivers, were unregulated. 

    Ninety percent of the water flowed out to sea covering floodplains and filling wetlands and creeks along the 2,500km plus journey. The river system naturally flooded and dried almost every year, but today we have reversed the way the system works, by keeping floodplains dry most of the time and allowing only 10 percent of the water to flow out to the sea.

    Unfortunately, the lack of overbank flow (small floods that feed forests and fill shallow lakes) due to this reversal, has decreased the regeneration of phytoplankton and zooplankton, which in turn initiates the breeding cycle in insects, frogs, fish and water birds and recharges groundwater systems.

    Murray River Trails founder and owner, Tony Sharley, is a leading advocate for the Murray River, and speaks regularly at forums about environmental flows and establishing new conservation-focused industries, such as eco-tourism, that do not extract water from Australia’s precious rivers. The organisation has recently established the Murray River Trails Fund, to raise money for organisations at the forefront of improving the region’s biodiversity, river floodplain health and status of threatened species in the region.

    E-WEB-Goal-07Solar-powered Houseboat

    Murray River Trails launched their new ‘High River’ vessel in 2022. Measuring 24 metres long, 8.5 metres wide, the vessel is fixed with 52 solar panels generating an impressive 20 kilowatts, with no need for diesel motors as found on standard commercial houseboats.



    E-WEB-Goal-04Red-filtered Flashlights for our Nocturnal Beauties

    White torches or spotlights can significantly disturb our marsupials, due to the greater sensitivity of their pupils to light compared with humans. Murray River Trails use and share with guests the importance of using red-filtered spotlights.


    Although spotlighting is a fantastic means of revealing some of Australia’s most endearing creatures, white torches or spotlights can significantly disturb our marsupials, due to the greater sensitivity of their pupils to light compared with humans. High-powered spotlights effect the ability for pupils to function properly for extended periods of time, leaving them blinded temporarily.

    For this reason, we share with guests the importance of using red-filtered spotlights along with prohibiting flash photography. 

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