Bush Camping At Murray River National Park, Katarapko Creek Section, South Australia
If you’re keen to spend a few days on the banks of the Murray River, camping at Murray River National Park should fit the bill. Bush camping on the Murray River… it doesn’t get much better than that!
The national park has three sections… Lyrup Flats on the floodplain near Lyrup, Bulyong Island north of Renmark and Katarapko south of Berri.
We stayed at the Katarapko Creek section. SA National Parks have done a great job of providing private campsites, well spaced from each other along the river. So you feel like you have your very own piece of paradise.
You have plenty of sites to choose from. And each one is private, spacious and right on the river. Jump online to book, it’s an easy process. You can even decide if you want to be up on a bank or on an easy slope down to the river for launching your kayak.
The website is excellent. It has photos of each campsite and a clear description of how much shade, accessibility to the river, size and whether it has a fire pit. And we had strong 4G mobile reception, so it was easy to book another night from the campsite.
So where is this national park?
The Katarapko Creek section of Murray River National Park is just downstream from Berri in South Australia. It encompasses almost 10,000 hectares of mainly floodplain country and stands out as a rare piece of land along this river that hasn’t been developed.
You actually camp on Katarapko Creek here. But it’s really just a channel of the Murray which has carved a shortcut through the floodplain. It’s hardly a creek though, more like a wide river.
Interestingly, when my cousin Ernie gave us a tour of Banrock Station (just downstream) several years ago he said the river is about 10 metres higher than its natural level. This is due to locks built in the late 1800s to allow paddle steamers to navigate the river. So this channel would most likely have been normally dry, only filling during floods.
The higher water levels have created a large island across the river from our campground. This would have naturally been wetlands, filling then draining during dry times. With the river level now permanently higher, many old river red gums have drowned… a sad sight.
Swimming, Canoeing, Kayaking, Fishing
This place is ideal for a swim, a paddle and a spot of fishing. We had a swim and explored the creek in our inflatable kayak. I know my limitations, so left the fishing to those who at least pretend to know what they’re doing!
The lack of water birds was noticeable. We believe this is most likely due to Lake Eyre filling at the moment. Ernie told us that when it starts filling, the pelicans disappear overnight. How they know the water is coming is a complete mystery, especially considering Lake Eyre is over a thousand kilometres from here.
We watched the kangaroos coming down to the creek for an afternoon drink. They spent ages checking out their surroundings for predators before deciding it was safe. We even saw an emu come down and awkwardly crouch then crane its long neck down to get a drink.
There are no facilities here. You have to be entirely self-sufficient, including firewood. While there’s plenty of dead wood around the campsite, don’t use it. You’re in a national park after all.
The nearest toilet is about 3km away, so bring a portable toilet. If you must go in the scrub, dig a hole, burn any toilet paper in the hole and then cover it over. Make sure you go well away from the water.
If you love peace and quiet, seclusion and nature, we highly recommend staying here. There’s nothing quite like camping along Australia’s inland rivers… and this is one of the best Murray River camping spots we’ve discovered so far.
Bring your camera too. You’ll be rewarded with some amazing sunset shots.
The Katarapko Creek section of Murray River National Park is on Erwirung Country.
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