The town of Berri takes its name from the local Aboriginal tribe ‘bery bery’ meaning ‘bend in the river’. Up until the 1870s the area was part of the Cobdogla sheep station and the home of the Erawirunga tribe of Aboriginals.
Berri is surrounded by 3000 hectares of irrigated vineyards and orchards. Berri plays host to some of the largest wine production facilities in Australia. Wine production at the Berri Estates Winery has been a fundamental part of Berri’s existence since 1918, making it one of Australia’s oldest wineries, Berri’s wine history has recently developed to include innovative boutique wineries and wine producers, specialising in high quality, small batch and alternative variety wines. Visitors can meet award winning winemakers at boutique cellar doors like the nationally acclaimed 919 Wines.
Nearby town of Monash is known for its adventure playground, providing all-day fun with free electric barbeques and picnic facilities along with a kiosk. The playground boasts crazy leaning towers, a Burmese rope bridge, Wave Bridge, maze, slippery dip and more. Bella Lavender Estate at Glossop keeps the kids entertained with mini-golf, and Berri features a ten pin bowling alley with laser force.
For the foodies amongst us, you can’t go past the Riverland Farmer’s Market held every Saturday Morning, featuring not only fresh fruit and vegies, but also a showcase of foods from many countries, reflecting the diversity of cultures within the region. If you can’t make it to the market, the Berri Visitor Information Centre stocks a varied range of locally made foodie treats.
Similarly, the local cafes and restaurants in Berri are known for making great use of both the Riverland’s fresh produce and its multiculturalism. For a unique Australian dining experience, you can’t miss the Mallee Fowl Restaurant, set in 24 acres of bushland with its own quondong plantation.
There’s many ways to soak up the natural environment in and around Berri. Canoeing in Berri’s nearby creeks and backwaters (as well as the river itself) provides some spectacular scenery. Getting out on the water is the perfect way to slow down, unwind and get close to nature. Canoe Adventures Riverland offer kayak and canoe hire, guided tours and overnight camping. Their popular sunset tours are a great way to see the river and birdlife at it’s best.
For land-dwellers, there are a number of walks available within the Berri area. There’s a wonderful 2 km riverfront walk from Berri to the popular recreational and camping reserve Martin Bend, where you can sit back and relax. Murray River National Park (Katarapko) is just a short drive from Berri, with plenty of camp sites along Katarapko Creek and a number of walks.
Nearby is Wilabalangaloo Flora and Fauna Reserve, a 100-hectare National Trust property on the banks of the Murray. The name Wilabalangaloo is from an aboriginal word meaning ‘place of the red, yellow and brown stones’ reflecting the colours in the cliff face along the river. A marked walking trail and lookout on the property give visitors magnificent views of the Murray.
Nearby Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park offers a four wheel drive experience like you’ve never seen before. If you’ve got your own vehicle, you can explore the private property’s 8000 acres of terrain, and 14kms of riverfront. The property boasts many four wheel drive obstacles both man made and natural, and hosts major 4×4 competitions throughout the year.
Berri also has some beautiful public art work, like the Riverland Vietnam & Post WWII veteran’s war memorial, the Aboriginal dreamtime mural underneath the Berri Bridge, and Jimmy James Memorial on the Berri riverfront. Jimmy James was a famous blacktracker, who was born around 1910 and belonged to the Pitjantjatjara people. He moved to the Riverland in the 1940s and took his name from his equally famous father-in-law. He was used extensively by the Police in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Northern Territory, to track felons, escapees and missing people. A monument is sculptured out of two slabs of finely polished back granite and engraved with images of birds and animals – a part of Jimmy’s spirit world.
You can enjoy the easy and flat Berri riverfront walk that takes in Jimmy’s Special Place, old ferry crossing, war memorial and the mural as part of a unique walking trail.
Accommodation in the Berri area includes a country club, motels, hotel, houseboats, bed & breakfasts, a riverside caravan park and a backpacker hostel. Alternatively, pitch a tent or go canoeing at any of the numerous locations along the river, including the Murray River National Park – Katarapko.
The Berri Bridge was opened in July 1997 by the Premier John Olsen. It is the largest of its type in South Australia. Over 13,000 people attended the opening creating the biggest crowd ever brought together in the town. The bridge cost $17 million dollars after 30 years of lobbying. The bridge spans the Murray River between Berri and Loxton. Travelling from one side of the region to the other can now be done in less than 30 minutes. This replaces the old dual ferry system which transported vehicles from one side of the river to the other.