Home to the biggest paddle steamer fleet in Australia, this heritage port on the mighty Murray is perfect for romantic getaways or fun filled family adventures.
- Horse riding adventures
- Paddle steamer cruises
- Great food, wine and music
Located on the meandering Murray River, the NSW/Victoria border town of Echuca Moama is just over 8.5 hours’ drive south west from Sydney. Settled by an ambitious ex convict, Echuca became Australia’s largest inland port and was a paddle steamer boom town between 1865 and 1910. The historic port area is now restored and visitors can choose from romantic cruises, history rich excursions or adventure filled outdoor activities. Not to mention some of the best food and wine around.
Where to eat
An influx of treechangers has generally lifted the demand for quality food and drink offerings in these parts. At the top of the pile is Junction Moama, a five star dining experience with a lovely outdoor area for pre dinner drinks in summer. Locals love the Italian fare at Antonio's and Ceres, for Asian inspired dishes there’s Monkee and Co., while Shebani’s covers Greek flavours.
For organic coffee try The Black Pudding. Expect an alternative vibe at The Nook On High (set in a homewares shop), or enjoy the vegan offerings of The Sweet Meadow.
Echuca Moama has a great pub scene, too. For excellent food and live music there’s The American Hotel, while Henry’s Bridge Hotel is a boutique pub set in a heritage building with a cafe and beer garden out the back. Or, head to The Star Hotel for gluten free pizzas. For something different, hop on to the Emmylou paddle steamer for a 30 minute trip to Morrisons Riverview Winery & Restaurant, where you can enjoy a lunch outdoors or, in winter, warm yourself by the fire.
Where to play
The best place to begin discovering this historic town is in the heritage listed port. At the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre, learn how paddle steamer engines work. In the evening, let the story of Echuca unfold on the Riverlights Dinner Cruise aboard the Pride of the Murray, then visit the town’s underground tunnels, once used to traffic alcohol during prohibition, in the Port After Dark lantern tour.
The port district also has some unusual attractions. Watch a film from yesteryear or try the penny arcade using real Australian pennies at Sharp’s Magic Movie House & Penny Arcade, see what’s on at the Foundry Arts Space, or experiment with the kids at TwistED Science. Get active (on two wheels) on the Five Mile mountain bike trail or (on the water) with Echuca Moama Stand Up Paddles and Echuca Boat and Canoe Hire.
For something completely different, sample the local produce – there’s chocolate at The Echuca Chocolate Company, yabbies at The Yabby Men, strawberries at The Strawberry Pick and fresh camel milk at The Camel Milk Co.
What to do
Just a 10 minute drive from town you’ll find Billabong Ranch Adventure Park, nearly 160ha of horse riding trails and fun activities designed for groups and families. You can take 30 minute or one hour horse and carriage rides by the river, then drop into Billabong’s Fun Park, which is packed with activities including rock climbing, pedal boats, indoor mini golf, beach volleyball and outdoor ten pin bowling.
Still not satisfied? What about frisbee golf, indoor archery, bungy trampolines, and camel and pony rides? For a real bush experience, kids can also enjoy a week long school holiday camp, open to boys and girls aged between seven and 17. Campfires, bush first aid and all things horse riding are included, such as grooming and saddling, trail and river rides, dressage and show jumping.
Meanwhile, Kingfisher Cruises runs eco tours of the World Heritage listed Barmah Wetlands. Home to 236 bird species, 50 mammals and more than 500 plant species – including the famous River Red Gum – the wetlands are significant to Australia. The informative tours are popular with international and interstate visitors alike.
Where to stay
Drive in and you’ll feel right at home at the NRMA Echuca Holiday Park, just a short walk from the historic port, shops, restaurants and cafes. With a range of self contained cabins, powered and unpowered camping and caravan sites, guests can also enjoy free wifi, a resort style heated swimming pool, a shared lounge and TV area, tennis court, and an all weather camp kitchen with enough seating for 60. You also get access to a public boat ramp, so don’t forget to hook up your trailer before you drive down.
Comfortable on your sea legs? Try sleeping overnight on an Emmylou paddle steamer cruise or one of several other paddle steamers and houseboats that provide accommodation on the water.
Get more out of your getaway
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