The Backwater Secrets tour with the crew from The Frames had just begun when Cathy suddenly pointed towards the tree tops. She had spotted some koalas, lazily enjoying the morning sun. I am surprised to learn that there are up to 19 koalas on the River bend between Renmark and the Paringa Bridge. The challenge of spotting the sleepy creatures is a popular pastime with guests of The Frames who experience their Backwater Secrets tour.
The Backwater Secrets tour is an exclusive experience for guests of ultra luxury accommodation in Paringa, The Frames. The Frames is a result of a creative and passionate Riverland couple, Rick and Cathy Edmonds, who’ve hunted this vast country for accommodation with the perfect balance of luxury and a special type of seclusion. The Frames allows guests to experience the best of the Riverland from picture perfect sunsets and glorious food to getting close with our unique River environment.
In The Frames’ tinny we scoot up the River from Paringa, past the iconic Renmark riverfront. Historic paddle steamer, the PS Industry, resting against the wharf and the Renmark Club’s deck quiet after a busy weekend of trading. When Ral Ral Creek and the Murray River meet we cruise into the channel on the left, past the first houseboat fleet on the Murray River, Liba Liba Houseboats, and John points out a canoe tree.
The sun is warm on my bare legs, and my body is equally warm with the buzz I always get when on the water. Cathy and I both agree that you could do this every day and you can tell from John’s silence that he is deep in appreciation for where we live.
Moving onto Bulyong Creek (a section of the Murray River National Park) and then onto Kylie Creek, I am in awe and utter appreciation for the environment right in our backyard. A serene feeling overcomes me. A feeling like I am hundreds of miles away from bustling towns and buzzing fruit blocks and and yet we are only a stone’s throw away.
Passing through No Duck Lagoon, where ducks are actually present (a family of swallows too), a trio of pelicans circle us from above. As I think there is no way out of the lagoon up ahead, we nose into a slim opening in between a bed of reeds.
The creeks, usually with one entry and exit point, can be tricky to navigate without local knowledge. Sections of thick reeds and submerged tree stumps can startle if bumped into. The thick brown duckweed that covers the water surface reminding me of how milo separates out over chilled milk.
Cruising effortlessly, we move along open lagoons that are busy with black swans calling out with their cute piping sound. Further up River we scan the bank for the resident goanna, who can probably see us, but we can’t see him. We admire the pipe organ like cliff patterns of Headings Cliff. The scorched red and orange cliffs are iconic to the Murtho area. Witnessing the intricate result of years and years of erosion is stunning. We even spy a shy peregrine falcon hiding in the hollow of the cliffs, sitting, watching, waiting.
Heading back to Paringa via the Bulyong, John takes us to a perfect little creek bend where he switches from Captain John to Master Chef. Whipping up his secret recipe Moroccan Chicken and killer salty garlic bread, a deliciously light lunch. Feeling blessed and warm (possibly from the Angove Family Sauvignon Blanc) I watched as two emus strolled passed and a whistling kite played around in the thermals, seeking his own tucker.
On our way home Cathy and I chatted away and it became crystal clear to me that although The Frames is a place to stay, Rick, Cathy and the passionate team go the extra mile to provide a unique experience through the accommodation for their guests. An experience that shares with guests all the incredibly unique aspects of the Riverland from our food culture to our natural environment entwined with absolute luxury and a sense of space.
We approach the mooring below the three villas that are a prominent feature of the Paringa skyline. They are perched atop a cliff facing a westerly direction, delivering an unobstructed view of where we have just come from up the Murray River.
Inside the three private villas, Pastiche, Montage and Collage, there is a warm homely feel. Sunlight streams in through large windows where beyond lies your private outdoor relaxation area. Each villa has a heated pool, a spa and two of the villas have a sauna. The villa Collage even has a six person indoor hydra-therapy spa! The bathrooms are as big as my bedroom and just as luxurious as bathrooms found in the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas.
Luxury is individual and The Frames caters to every creature comfort imaginable. Luxury for me is a big soft bed, a heated pool and spa and food glorious food. Although the villas are self contained, there are a few dining options to solve the age old question of what’s for dinner, are you cooking or am I?
The Frames partners with a local chef who is passionate about food and the Riverland. Menu options include a gourmet BBQ, two or three course meals to simply heat and serve or my favourite, a personal in house chef! Let the chef prepare a three course gourmet meal before your eyes, or from slightly farther away, dipping in between the spa and pool.
Although it’s difficult to leave the river view deck, the heated pool or even the king sized massaging wonder bed; The Frames makes it easy for guests to experience the local area through a range of experiences and services. A romantic sunset River cruise in the 100 year old Gondola has seen its fair share of marriage proposals, and he isn’t tired of them yet. The experience I have just shared with you, the Backwater Secrets tour, enables guests to see wildlife and an environment so different from the River corridor. Electric bicycles are available in case you want to ride over the historic Paringa Bridge or you can arrive like Royalty to the Renmark Club, personally chauffeured by boat.
As I leave The Frames and my morning on the River with Cathy and John, I catch myself while crossing the Paringa Bridge, scanning the tree line for koalas. My head full of the secrets I learnt while on the water and getting a glimpse of what ultra luxury feels like. Knowing full well that I can return back to my memories of the experience any time and I am once again richer in my “experiences” bank.
Have you enjoyed the luxury of The Frames? Tell me about it in the comments below
* I was not compensated for this post, however the backwater secrets experience was complimentary. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.