Destinations / Oceania

5 Must-Visit Murray River Regions

At more than 2,500 kilometres, the mighty Murray River, flowing through New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia is Australia’s longest river. With so many fascinating regions, towns, events and hidden gems along its length, deciding on the right spot for an unforgettable Murray River holiday is as important as picking the accommodation.

Location can often determine what activities, sights and experiences are available right outside the door. From state-renowned galleries and museums to craft breweries and paddle steamers, or wineries and horse riding, the Murray River has a variety of activities at your doorstep, depending on where visitors choose to stay.

Take the guess work out of organising a Murray River holiday with this expert’s guide to five unforgettable regions: Albury Wodonga, Mildura, Yarrawonga Mulwala, Swan Hill and Echuca Moama. With over 26 million Australian visitors per year to HotelsCombined, we’ve put together a breakdown of things to do, sights and popular hotels, to make it easy deciding which destination is best.

1. Albury Wodonga

Albury Wodonga

Home to a regional airport servicing Sydney and Melbourne, Albury Wodonga is a gateway to the Murray River for many Australian travellers. However, the city itself is worth an extended stay, boasting historic streets, interesting museums and exceptional restaurants.

Things to do

Ettamogah Pub

Inspired by cartoonist Ken Maynard, Ettamogah Pub is a true blue Aussie icon with an Outback-style and laid-back vibe. Only 15 kilometres from Albury, on Hume Highway, it’s the perfect watering hole for a cold beer and homely pub grub. Ettamogah Pub is filled with zany cartoons, has a garden with a “tree jail”, and often hosts live music and car park markets.

Albury Wodonga Farmers Market

Held every Saturday from 8am until 12pm, the Albury Wodonga Farmers Market hosts a large collection of local stallholders selling fresh produce, arts and crafts, artisan cheese and jams, homemade soap, and more. Set on the banks of the Murray River at Hovell Tree Park, the market exudes a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere.

Bonegilla Migrant Experience

With one in 20 Australians having a link to Bonegilla through parents, siblings, uncles, aunts or grandparents, the Bonegilla Migrant Experience brings to life the stories and experiences of the post-war migrants who called Bonegilla home and how their families contributed to the formation of our multicultural society. This is a must visit for anyone who wants to understand modern day Australia.

Sights to see

Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA)

MAMA showcases local and international contemporary artists with a revolving door of fascinating exhibitions, workshops and more interactive experiences. One of Victoria’s largest museums, MAMA prides itself on a calendar rich in events and new displays. Guests can witness new-age art, from paintings and sculptures to light-infused exhibits and live interpretive performances.

Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk

Part of the 15-kilometre Wagirra Trail which runs along the Murray River, the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk allows visitors to step back in time and immerse themselves in the region’s Aboriginal history and culture. Here visitors will find elaborately designed sculptures and smartphone videos that present stories by Indigenous Australians, providing a deeper understanding of Aboriginal life along the Murray. The Wagirra Trail can be walked, run or biked, and includes numerous riverside parks for a picnic.

Where to stay

Atura Albury

Atura Albury

One of Albury’s unique offerings on the hotel circuit, Atura Albury packs the style with artsy communal areas including a bar, lounge with pool table, and a restaurant that dishes up a mouthwatering breakfast buffet. The well-lit boutique rooms come with a glass mini-fridge, pod coffee machines and bathrooms filled with brand-name products.

2. Mildura

Drinking coffee in Mildura

Although it’s considered one of Australia’s houseboating hubs, Mildura offers so much more in the form of annual festivals, water sports, restaurants run by celebrity chefs, and a distinctive art district. Whether visitors prefer hearty fare, live music, touring wineries or sandboarding, Mildura can more than accommodate.

Things to do

Sandboarding down the Perry Sandhills

With the Murray River so close it might seem crazy to ditch the water for sand, but that’s exactly what many locals and visitors choose to experience at the Perry Sandhills. Visitors can create a sandboarding playground on more than 160 hectares of shifting sand dunes just 35 kilometres from Mildura. The Perry Sandhills are also culturally significant to the indigenous population, with the remains of giant kangaroos, lions and emus, known as “mega-fauna” present at the heritage site.

Paddlesteamers

There are few better ways to embrace the history and natural gifts of Mildura than by taking a ride down the Murray River on a historic paddle steamer. One paddle steamer, the PS Melbourne built in 1912, embarks on two-hour river cruises daily. The other, PV Rothbury, hosts a number of special cruises that incorporate wineries, dinner on the water and afternoon luncheons.

Sights to see

Mildura Arts Centre

Mildura Arts Centre is the focal point of the town’s heralded art precinct, which also includes a performing arts venue, regular cultural programs, a sculpture garden and galleries. Monthly exhibits bring new and exciting art to the region, while regular workshops help promote emerging local artists through interactivity and dedicated mentoring to evolve and curate their work.

Mildura Brewery

Beer drinkers, lovers and connoisseurs can rejoice at Mildura Brewery where a range of year-round and seasonal brews do Australia’s beer culture proud. The on-site brewery ensures all tap beers are fresh, and the pub dishes out gourmet fare from the charcoal grill to perfectly complement each frothy pint. Visitors can join a beer tasting club or simply settle in at the bar for a Desert Lager, Mallee Bull, Astor Ale and more.

Where to stay

Quality Hotel Mildura Grand

Quality Hotel Mildura Grand

Nestled in the heart of Mildura’s entertainment district and close to the Murray River, Quality Hotel Mildura Grand provides the best of both worlds. This elegant residence is renowned for a level of opulence typically associated with capital cities. Guests can pamper themselves with exquisite marble bathrooms, two-person spa baths, six on-site restaurants, garden views and a refreshing pool.

3. Echuca Moama

Paddlesteamer in Echuca Moama

Echuca Moama has been Australia’s paddle steamer capital since 1860, but today it’s also home to fine-dining restaurants, boutiques and the world’s largest water ski event, Southern 80. The surrounding region is packed with excellent wineries and cellar doors, while the confluence of three rivers grants visitors an array of outdoor adventures on the water and the land.

Things to do

Southern 80

Held in February each year, the Club Marine Southern 80 welcomes more than 80,000 people looking to compete in the annual waterskiing competition or simply enjoy the spectacle. Skiers must stay upright for the entire race, a gruelling 80-kilometre stretch of the Murray with 126 bends, while striving to be the first over the finish line by reaching speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour. Spectators can enjoy a great variety of land-based entertainment including freestyle motocross and food vendors along the banks of the Murray River.

Billabong Ranch Adventure Park

Find fun for the entire family at Billabong Ranch Adventure Park. This local property, a 10-minute drive from Echuca Moama, has transformed into an authentic country playground with horse riding, carriage tours and special events. The Fun Park features pony rides, pedal boats on the Murray River, rock climbing, mini golf, archery and a long list of family-friendly entertainment. There’s even an animal nursery where kids can pet cuddly rabbits, sheep, puppies and other farm animals.

Sights to see

National Holden Motor Museum

Anyone who grew up in Australia has no doubt owned, ridden in or at least seen a Holden automobile. These iconic Aussie cars date back to 1856 and visitors can admire more than 40 vehicles at the National Holden Motor Museum located opposite the Port of Echuca. Extremely rare prototypes, Holden clothing, historic films and photographs, and memorabilia are all on display.

Port of Echuca Discovery Centre

Become immersed in Australian history at the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre. The port itself was built back in 1865 and is now home to two historic paddle steamers, original working steam engines and a working sawmill. Visitors can learn more about the lives of those working on the wharf at the Cargo Shed Museum, admire uninterrupted views of the Murray River from the red gum walkways, or look at paddle steamer models in the Discovery Centre.

Where to stay

Best Western Plus Madison Spa Resort

Best Western Plus Madison Spa Resort

Luxury abounds at this bushland resort set on 16 hectares along the Murray River. Best Western Plus Madison Spa Resort complements any winery holiday with moments of unrestricted pampering. Some of the rooms feature two-person spa baths and log fireplaces, while the on-site day spa lets visitors indulge in rejuvenating treatments.

4. Yarrawonga Mulwala

Golf at Yarrawonga Mulwala

The dual towns of Yarrawonga Mulwala take advantage of their position on the shores of Lake Mulwala with beautiful dining options, great parklands and a focus on outdoor activities. Wakeboarding on the lake, picnics along the Murray River and canoeing through Barmah National Park are all par for the course. Speaking of par, Yarrawonga Mulwala is also home to championship golf courses where visitors can enjoy a round or two with friends.

Things to do

A day on the links

A popular destination for golf holidays, Yarrawonga Mulwala contains two exceptional golf courses. The Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club hugs the Murray River and features 45 holes of varying lengths and difficulty to challenge all levels of players. The Black Bull Golf Course overlooks Lake Mulwala and treats golfers to 18 scenic holes designed by professional Australian golfer, Peter Thomson.

Explore the Farm Gate Trail

Uncover the region’s spoils along the Farm Gate Trail, a collection of local producers who are happy to treat visitors with gourmet fare sourced straight from the land. It’s not your typical farmgate experience, with an almond farm, homestead brewery and cider house, bushtucker spices and jams, home grown organic garlic, and numerous wineries offering a short daytrip just outside of town.

Sights to see

Barmah National Park

Part of the world’s largest river-based red gum forest, Barmah National Park is an astounding native attraction full of local flora and fauna. The area radiates serenity along the Murray River and is perfect for camping, bushwalking and horse riding. Those who prefer life on the water can find numerous spots for swimming, or cruise down the river on canoes or kayaks.

Pioneer Museum

The Pioneer Museum takes guests back in time to when Australia’s first settlers discovered Yarrawonga Mulwala and helped cultivate the land and build the towns that stand today. With exhibits focused on sport, vintage cars, blacksmithing and aviation, the museum makes the regions rich history fun and easy to explore.

Where to stay

ClubMulwala Resort

Clubmulwala Resort

Overlooking Lake Mulwala, this four-star resort places guests in a great position for golfing, winery tours, water sports, hiking and more Murray River adventures. ClubMulwala Resort’s range of accommodation, from the Standard Rooms to two-bedroom apartments, suits travellers of all budgets. Spend a little extra for uninterrupted views of the lake, a full kitchen and a separate lounge room.

5. Swan Hill

Heartbeat of the Murray laser show at Swan Hill

Swan Hill offers a little bit of everything to visitors wanting to explore the Murray River region. Wineries, orchids, famed fishing spots and vast native forest surround this historic town. The 19th-century buildings still line the streets, but nowadays they house charming cafes, restaurants and boutique clothing stores. There’s also a top-rated golf course and numerous walking trails close to town for those wanting to relax and explore the region by foot.

Things to do

Pioneer Settlement

Venture back more than 100 years at the Pioneer Settlement. Preserved and restored buildings set a charming backdrop as visitors walk down the main street while indulging on sweet cakes, roasted coffee and ice cream. Virtual reality machines provide an even deeper immersion into yesteryear, and the restored PS Gem paddles teamer makes for an unforgettable sight as it glides across the Murray River.

Take a stroll

Swan Hill’s township and surrounding regions are both full of rewarding walking trails. Those preferring to stay in town can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the River Walk, a 4.5-kilometre track along the Murray with signs that educate visitors about local fish, flora and history. Nyah Vinifera State Forest, a 20-minute drive from Swan Hill, provides numerous hiking opportunities in the heart of native bushland.

Sights to see

Heartbeat of the Murray

Shot across a nine-metre water screen, the Heartbeat of the Murray laser show incorporates water, light, sounds and colourful lasers to present a family-friendly spectacle. Viewers are transported back 30 million years and learn about how the Murray River has come to be in its current form. The show takes place every night of the year excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day and is a ‘must see’ for those visiting Swan Hill.

Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum

The Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum is located 15 kilometres from Swan Hill and is a memorial to the service men and women who worked on the flying boats in the Second World War. Visitors to the museum can see the famous Catalina A24-30 flying boat, historic war photos and films, and profiles on some of the commanding officers.

Where to stay

Best Western Burke & Wills Motor Inn

Best Western Burke & Wills Motor Inn

Best Western Burke & Wills Motor Inn welcomes all visitors to charming Swan Hill with a collection of high-quality amenities such as the on-site restaurant Charlie Grays, an outdoor pool, and room service. The guest rooms are cosy red brick abodes with complimentary internet, plush beds and ample carpeted space. Swan Hill’s Pioneer Settlement museum is just a short walk away.

Where is your must-visit Murray River destination?

Clearly, the Murray River has more to offer than first meets the eye. With each town featuring unique qualities, this is one region that reveals exciting new sights and experiences with every trip. The only thing left to do is decide which region to see first!

Accommodation in the form of luxurious hotels, budget-friendly motels and homely B&Bs ensure all travellers have a home away from home along the Murray River. At HotelsCombined, our visitors tend to prefer accommodation with that extra touch of luxury such as in-room spa baths, on-site restaurants or multi-room apartments, which the Murray River region can accommodate in spades.

Which Murray River destination is your favourite or which one is one your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!

References

  1. Port of Echuca Discovery Centre
  2. Echuca Paddlesteamers
  3. Visit Albury Wodonga
  4. Visit Mildura
  5. Visit Echuca Moama
  6. Visit Yarrawonga Mulwala
  7. Visit Swan Hill

Author: Ben Stower

I'm enamoured with travel, whether it's finding the quiet, local sanctuaries in touristic cities, venturing into rock vaults in a distant jungle or spending hours on a Spanish beach. I can't see an end to my travelling. Just another chapter and another story to tell.

Ben Stower
I'm enamoured with travel, whether it's finding the quiet, local sanctuaries in touristic cities, venturing into rock vaults in a distant jungle or spending hours on a Spanish beach. I can't see an end to my travelling. Just another chapter and another story to tell.
Posted on Categories Destinations, OceaniaTags ,

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1 thought on “5 Must-Visit Murray River Regions”

  1. You didn’t mention the “Jewel in the Crown” i.e. the Kooondrook Barham area which is right on the Muray River and betwen Echuca and Swan Hill,

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