Get to know Australia’s longest river with this four day amble along its riverlands. Walk through the spectacular red gum forests that proliferate along its banks, experience its charms from the water and learn about the fascinating working history of what was once a water highway.
You’ll have an abundance of activities to keep you entertained along the way, and you won’t go hungry as you feast on great food, wine and other produce from several of the river’s most significant and inviting regional centres.
Image credit: Robert Blackburn; Destination NSW
Day 1: Albury Wodonga to Cobram
1hr 40min | 137km
Albury and its over the river Victorian twin Wodonga have inherited plenty of Melbourne’s famous food culture, so start the day at one of the cities’ many cafes. Then get your first taste of the mighty Murray River with a wander through the extensive trail network around the river, or hire bicycles from Cycle Station Albury and do it on two wheels.
Back in the car, it’s just half an hour west to the renowned food and wine destination of Rutherglen. Stop in at The Wicked Virgin & Calico Town Wines to sample wines, locally grown olives and tapenades before taking a leisurely lunch, or take your pick from one of the long line of other cellar doors, restaurants, cafes and producers here.
It’s another half hour or so west into Yarrawonga, home to Lake Mulwala – tucked between the town and its NSW twin Mulwala – and an abundance of outdoor opportunities. Take a relaxing lake cruise on the PS Cumberoona paddle steamer, go for a walk along the foreshore or let the kids burn off energy at the nearby waterslides, swimming pools and splash park.
Then take the short run west to Cobram, a town known for its pristine Murray River beaches. Kick back for a while at the idyllic Thompson’s Beach before filling up on street food inspired dishes at KU de 'TA, hearty pub fare at Cobram Hotel (also known as the Top Pub) or one of the town’s other eating establishments. Sunset Villas Cobram has self contained units set in tranquil surrounds, or Regency Court Motel offers quiet comfortable accommodation for the budget traveller.
Day 2: Cobram to Echuca
1hr 20min | 100km
Set your compass west for the iconic Barmah National Park, home to the heritage listed Barmah Forest. Take a hike or hire a canoe or kayak and experience the beauty of the park from the water.
Next take the short run west over the Murray into NSW, then south to Moama and back over the river again to Moama’s Victorian twin town, the historic port of Echuca. Grab lunch at the famous Beechworth Bakery or one of the town’s many hip cafes and classy restaurants. Spend the afternoon delving into Echuca’s fascinating past with a visit to the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre. There are interactive displays, a working sawmill, riverbank walkways and the beautifully restored Echuca Wharf. Give the kids a thrill with a water skiing lesson or horse riding adventure, or let them cool off at one of the town’s riverside beaches. For an experience you’ll never forget, take a dinner cruise on the famous PS Emmylou, one of many historic paddle steamers that still ply these waters. Feeling tired after all those activities? NRMA Echuca Holiday Park, situated in a great position right on the banks of the Murray, offers a range of competitively priced accommodation options for families – from camping and caravan sites to cabins. Facilities include a heated swimming pool and tennis courts.
Day 3: Echuca to Swan Hill
2hr 15min | 170km
Head 45 minutes west to another of the Murray’s natural attractions, Gunbower National Park. Just east of the attractive rural town of Cohuna, it’s internationally renowned for its forests, wetlands and birdlife. Take one of the many walks through the area, swim at Gunbower Creek or hike up nearby Mount Hope for stunning views of the Murray riverlands.
For lunch, find a spot somewhere fetching and picnic on goodies bought from one of Echuca’s delis, providores and bakeries. Or drive into Cohuna for an open steak sandwich from the Bower Tavern. Don’t worry if they’re a bit full, Cohuna is well served with cafes and restaurants.
Continue west through Kerang, then north through stunning lake scenery and the waterskiing, fishing and boating hotspots of Lake Charm and Lake Boga. Laze away the afternoon in Lake Boga’s waters and get an insight into Australia’s wartime aeronautic history at the Flying Boat Museum Lake Boga, or drive on into Swan Hill and familiarise yourself with the town’s environment and history on its well signposted 4.5km River Walk.
Grab an early dinner at one of Swan Hill’s many quality eateries, then head to the spectacular Heartbeat of the Murray laser light show to learn the story of the river or take advantage of crystal clear night skies with a visit to the Lake Boga Observatory. See more stars on a houseboat stay with Murray Downs Marina Luxury Floating Apartment.
Day 4: Swan Hill to Mildura
2hr 35min | 223km
Head north out of town past Nyah Vinifera Park – another spot to appreciate the Murray with a stroll or picnic – and through the citrus fruit and vines of Piangil towards Boundary Bend. Just north of town, take the signposted track to Murrumbidgee Junction and see the Murray meet up with another of Australia’s great rivers.
Continue north west into Robinvale and stop at Loft 13 or another of the town’s relaxed cafes for lunch. Check out Lock and Weir 15 to gain an insight into the working aspects of the Murray or brush up on the area’s history at Robinswood Homestead or the Rural Life Museum.
Then make the final hour’s drive north west on NSW soil before crossing the Murray one final time into Mildura, a vibrant river town with enough eating, drinking, shopping, artistic, outdoors activities and natural attractions to justify staying a while. Sunraysia Resort offers accommodation for families of all sizes and plenty of fun for the kids. Early Australian Motor Inn has a range of clean, comfortable and affordable rooms, some with spas.