The Riverina town of Deni is the perfect place to get back into nature as restrictions lift. Whether it’s a paddle down the Edward River or campfire hangs, we reckon Deni should be on your radar.
After a few months of lockdown you’re probably fanging for a weekend away. There’s only so many times you can sort out the garage, alphabetise your record collection and clean the BBQ (kidding) before the feet get itchy.
We all need to keep it local and explore our backyard, and regional Australia needs all the help it can get after the fires and pandemic turned off the tourist tap.
But where to go? Do you even remember how to ‘go’?
We reckon that if you live around Melbourne, or anywhere in Victoria or southern NSW, Deni is a red hot choice. Officially ‘Deniliquin’, Deni is the perfect town to ease yourself back into weekends away. The Edward River winds through the town and makes for beaut riverside camping, plus heaps of fishing, paddling, biking and hiking to be taken at whatever pace you feel like.
Our only tip: treat yo self. You haven’t been away in ages and ‘helping country towns get back on their feet’ is the best excuse I’ve ever heard for a pub feed.
Pitch Your Tent or Go Deluxe
Is it actually camping if there isn’t a campfire? Sources disagree, but it’s safe to say that a campfire is essential for winter escapes. At the very least, it gives you a great reason to sit around in a circle, dish out some banter and break into some brews. So where are the best spots?
BIG4 Deniliquin Holiday Park
Right on the Edward River, BIG4 Deniliquin is a lowkey paradise. Access to the river is easy with a private boat ramp and pontoon boat hire, or you can get luxe with pools, mini-golf, BMX pump track, one of those excellent jumping pillow things and pedal go-karts.
Ok, most of that stuff is to keep the rugrats entertained while you kick it in your camp chair at the communal campfire or char up some snags on the Barbie, but if you sneak onto the jumping pillow I won’t tell.
McLean Beach Holiday Park
If you’re looking for more nature vibes head to McLean Beach Holiday Park. This leafy spot sits on a bend in the river and features Australia’s largest inland river beach, you’ll feel like you’re camping on an inland island! Want to really relax? Luxury Riverside Villas and Glamping Tents are available if you’re in the mood to splash out (go on).
Deniliquin Car-O-Tel & Caravan Park
Hotel, Car-O-Tel, Holiday Inn! Deni’s Car-O-Tel offers affordable cabins right near the lagoon, so you can pack light and focus on exploring the region. There are communal BBQs for an open-air feast and importantly, 24/7 reception, so you can cruise in after work on a Friday.
Murray Valley Regional Park
Sometimes you’ve just gotta get back to basics – and Murray Valley Regional Park is the place to do it. The area has been important to Indigenous Australians for thousands of years and continues to be important to local communities. Towering River Red Gums line the banks and for the history inclined, relics abound of the grazing and forestry industries that moved through the area more recently.
Pitch your tent at Willoughby’s Beach for a simple, sandy setup by the river. Did we mention that firewood is supplied? Pack the marshmallows!
Cast A Line
The Murray Cod is a pretty damn impressive fish, and there’s no better place to try your hand at catching it than the Edward River, which runs through Deni. Other species like Golden Perch (Yellowbelly) are up for grabs, but you’ve gotta know where to look. No stress, the Visitor Information Centre in George Street will give you the lowdown.
Casting off from the shore is good fun, but your best bet to snag the catch of the day is to get out on the water. Lucky Deni’s a hub for boating then! Read on.
Hot Tip: You’ll need a recreational fishing licence to cast a line, luckily they’re only a few bucks at the servo!
Explore The River
Head Out For A Paddle
Remember those River Red Gums I mentioned earlier? What could be better than floating beneath them as you explore the Edward River at your own leisurely pace? In fact, with so many good river beaches in Deni, many people grab something buoyant and simply float down the river from Willoughby’s Beach to McLean Beach. Peace out.
You can paddle from many of the campgrounds and holiday parks mentioned above and, if you head upstream of McLean Beach, it’s all a no-ski zone, perfect for fishing, canoeing and even the odd houseboat. Why not paddle up to a secret lunch spot before cruising back to camp?
Hot Tip: McLean Beach Holiday Park offers kayak hire!
Or Walk Along Its Banks
Strolling alongside the Edward River is a brilliant way to experience the native birdlife, become immersed in the pockets of bushland along its shores and learn about Deniliquin’s history.
The Beach to Beach walk meanders from McLean Beach to Willoughby’s Beach in the Murray Valley Regional park. Highlights include the Island Sanctuary, National Bridge and heaps of kangaroos.
Explore Deni’s lagoons on the Lagoons to River Walk. At only 1.4km, this stroll is great for slowing down from a hectic week in the city.
The Murray Valley Regional Park is full of riverside hikes. Follow the change in tree species from river red gums to black box and see how the native birds, marsupials and lizards change with it! Look out for Red-rumped parrots, galahs, goannas and the mysterious Eastern Grey kangaroo.
Boat Ramps in Deniliquin
Deni’s a mecca for all kinds of boating; powered or paddled. You can put in at one of seven public boat ramps:
- Sloane Street Boat Ramp, Sloane Street
- Harfleur Street Boat Ramp, Harfleur Street
- McLean Beach Boat Ramp, Butler Street
- Twin Rivers Boat Ramp, Riverina Highway
- Lawson Syphon Boat Ramp, Lawson Syphon Road
- Willoughby’s Beach Boat Ramp, Murray Valley Regional Park
- Benarca Bend Boat Ramp, Stevens Weir Road (a bit further out of town)
After Some Pedal Power?
Winter’s an epic time to get out for a ride. The air’s crisp and the sun doesn’t bite. So what’s your poison?
Road Cycling in Deni
Deni has a great 30km road cycling loop for keen cyclists. Head out down Hay Road, down Wandook Road and come back in on Conargo Road. Advice from the Deniliquin Cycling Club is to check the wind direction first, as a headwind could make your ride harder (or easier) than expected!
Mountain Bike Trails in Deni
The Murray Valley Regional Park unveiled some great single track last year that follows existing kangaroo footpads to wind through the forest. There’s not much vert in Deni (it’s on the floodplain) so these trails are all about maxxing out your pedal speed and nailing your turns.
Hot Tip: The Visitor Information Centre does free mountain bike hire.