Photo by Rebecca Flack Photography
Editorial by Kerrie Lush
Forget the lumpy mattresses, grimy rooms and tired interiors – new, custom-built backpacker digs in the Riverland feature a swimming pool, lounge area and a gymnasium – nothing short of what you’d usually expect from resort style accommodation.
Yes, the backpacker accommodation in the Riverland of South Australia has certainly stepped up a notch with the official opening of the new Paringa Backpackers Resort at Paringa.
Developers John and Leeane Pearce, owners of Rockford Homes in Renmark, established the 236 bed facility after recognising there was a need for extra short-term accommodation in the region, particularly at harvest time.
And it’s opened just in time to house seasonal workers for this citrus season with the first guests already in-house.
John expects the facility to be at capacity in three weeks and he says it’s already receiving rave reviews.
“Most are a bit blown away,” John says, “They say it’s too good to be a backpackers.
“We did a bit of homework into similar types of accommodation and we thought we’d try to step it up a bit and be the best in that particular market.
“Our price point is pretty competitive – we’re affordable and comparable to others.”
The $3.6 milion investment was assisted by $1.2m in Federal Government funding through the South Australian River Murray Sustainability program (SARMS).
Mr Pearce says two full-time managers will run the facility with extras employed to share the load.
He expects up to 200 seasonal workers to stay the length of the citrus picking season, most of those employed by the Riverland’s largest citrus grower and processor, the Costa Group.
Backpackers often have a reputation for not spending a lot, but Mr Pearce says that might change once they’ve experienced the resort.
“Hopefully they’ll like it here,” he says.
“If they’re living in a nice place, they might be inclined to stay for a bit longer and spend more in the region.”