Akuna Station epitomises Murray River history. By 1836, South Australia was formally established and Akuna was the fording point for large movements of stock across the river where it narrows. Beneath the state's highest free-fall cliffs is a 20 metre deep waterhole, guaranteed to have plenty of water for stock during low river times.
By 1851 a mail run was established between Adelaide and Wentworth, across the border in New South Wales. The mailman forded the river at Akuna. In the 1870s a hotel was built, then a police station.
Homesteads were built in 1938 and 1947 using stone from Limestone Ridge quarry. Then owned by the Schmidt brothers, it was run as a dairy and the first wine grape vines were planted. The Shiraz vines are still in production.
Akuna Station is one of South Australia's most beautiful properties. The 350 hectares has 2.5 kilometres of river frontage, high cliffs, scrubland, a six hectare wetland lagoon and 150 hectares of dry land farming, 100 hectares of which is sown to wheat.
The property has two airstrips, allowing private air charter access. Arrival at the station is most impressive. Almost seven kilometres of white fences, stately date palms, manicured lawns, natural bush and flying flags give visitors a good feeling from first sighting.
Peter Teakle, known throughout the world for his wine labels, purchased Akuna Station in 1991 and his first development was to increase water allocation from the river from 152,000 tonnes to 500,000 tonnes. He planted 28 hectares of premium varietal vines Cabernet Sauvignon, more Shiraz, Chardonnay, Semillon and Merlot. Lawn was planted to minimise evaporation, reduce intra-red reflection and create a haven for ladybirds that eat the main pests.
The vineyard surroundings were developed and Akuna's village was completed. There are four new sheds, a 2.2 hectare football oval, fountains, 300 rose bushes, 130 fruit trees, a dam and over two hectares of lawn.
For the last few years it has been open for viewing by the public, but now guests can stay overnight at this beautiful place.
The accommodation choice is between the 1928 two bedroom original homestead or on board Amphibious, a paddle boat built in 1875. It has three cedar cabins and was salvaged from the Port River. Both are luxurious and $2.5 million was spent renovating the paddleboat over four years.
All comforts are provided, and visitors can just totally relax, or offer a hand with some working activities.
Meals and drinks are inclusive and are served at various locations. Regional food is an integral part of an Akuna experience. The Riverland is Australia's largest producer of citrus, olives, grapes and almonds and other delicious produce. Akuna has its own yabby dam and they are a tasty treat. You can even help catch them!
Akuna Station's commitment to conservation has been rewarded the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Ibis Award for the Riverland and Murray Mallee area, in recognition of the rejuvenation of Akuna's wetlands and tree planting program.
Everything is overseen by Don Workman and Nola Campbell. Don's love and understanding of the outback is invaluable, and combined with Nola's culinary expertise, Akuna Station is in good hands.