Renmark is a friendly Riverland town that is home to Australia's largest rose garden and hosts a glorious Rose Festival every year. It takes its name from the Aboriginal word meaning 'red mud'. The town was founded in 1887 following a joint agreement between the state government and Canadian engineers George and Ben Chaffey. The brothers were instrumental in helping to establish the system of irrigation still in use on the Murray today. Renmark is Australia's oldest irrigation settlement.
Things to do and see include River Cruising, begin your stay with a cruise on boats old or new. The houseboat-style Big River Rambler makes regular cruises from the wharf, while the historic paddle steamer Industry fires up on the first Sunday of every month. It's one of the few remaining paddle steamers from the busy river trade days.
Take a stroll along the Renmark riverfront interpretive walk. This easy five-kilometre walk (also suitable for bikes) interprets historical information about the town and river. An extension of the walk takes you to the nearby town of Paringa.
The riverfront is also the base for several houseboat fleets, including the Liba Liba fleet. Original proprietor Ian Showell conceived the idea of a floating house while in Egypt. The boats he saw along the Nile became the inspiration for what is now a multi-million dollar Murray River industry. Don't miss this great opportunity to walk on water. Learn to ski or wakeboard with Footing Fever Water Ski School (by appointment).
Olivewood Estate, the watershed in the town's history was the development of the irrigation schemes in the late 1880s that turned this countryside into Australia's food bowl. The Canadian-born Chaffey brothers are often called the founders of Renmark. Their original home, Olivewood, is now a National Trust museum and gives an important insight into the history of the town.
McCormick Centre for the Environment is three kilometres outside Renmark, which includes an interpretive model that shows the enormity and importance - and workings - of the Murray-Darling Basin.
You can also sample the local drop at Mallee Estates, Kahlon Estates, Renmano and Angove Winery cellar doors. You can get a taste of the region's great food and wine at many of the restaurants, pubs and the community club. Renmark Hotel is a good dine with great river views. Make sure you drop into Almondco Hut or Nuts about Fruit to get a taste of the local produce.
Backwater Expeditions allow you to discover the backwaters of the Murray on a backwater dinghy tour. You will see a very different side to this great river such as extensive birdlife, plus diverse flora and fauna.
Ideal for horticulture, Renmark's climate is also perfect for roses and from September to July the main street is flush with blooms. Ruston's Rose Garden is the largest rose garden in Australia and hosts a glorious mix of modern and heritage roses of all kinds and colours. The newly opened Rustons Rose Garden Visitor Centre offers a coffee and gift shop with a display of classic vehicles; you can also view floral arranging on site. All things 'rose' are celebrated in October in the town's nine-day Rose Festival.
There's adventure of a different kind at Bredl's Wonder World of Wildlife: one of their informative guides will allow you to feed and hold a massive python! Chowilla Station and Reserve Just 40 kilometres from Renmark, where the Outback meets the river, are a wealth of natural, historic and cultural experiences.
Go with a group and stay in the Shearers' Quarters overlooking the Murray River, hire a canoe and explore this pristine natural bushland or discover this peaceful location on a houseboat. Camping and tours are available.
Accommodation in Renmark includes riverfront caravan parks, hotels and motels, bed and breakfasts and self-contained cabins. An extensive range of houseboats is available for hire.