6 Unmissable Murray River Holiday Experiences
The Murray River is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether visitors are at home on the water or prefer dry land, this region continues to amaze with its opportunities for adventure. From water sports and fishing to horse riding and bush walks through fascinating native wildlife, the Murray River stands out as one of Australia’s best active holiday destinations.
When organising a Murray River holiday, it’s important to choose the right accommodation. Visitors should make the most of their holiday by choosing a hotel or resort close to the water. HotelsCombined’s 26 million Australian visitors each year have shown us which popular Murray River hotels are the best for a range of travellers.
Read on for a list of the best water and land experiences along the Murray River, along with the top hotels for making the most of the outdoors.
1. Water Sports
The Murray River offers plenty of tranquillity, but visitors have numerous opportunities to ruffle its surface during a day out waterskiing, wakeboarding or enjoying other exhilarating water sports. Take advantage of professional instruction at various schools and learn the skills of waterskiing or wakeboarding. From two skis to one ski and no skis at all, the fun begins once that speedboat engine roars.
Some of Australia’s biggest waterskiing competitions, Southern 80, Robinvale 80 and Mildura 100, bring the mighty Murray River to life, and a number of wide sections, dammed lakes and a flat surface, make the Murray River one of the best environments for water sports. Beginners can learn the basics without having to worry about waves, while more advanced riders can take advantage of the space to perform tricks and jumps.
Those who prefer a more leisurely approach to life on the water can better soak up the picturesque Murray River scenery from a boat, paddle steamer or canoe. Australia’s longest river is lined with fascinating towns, leafy parks and beautiful native wildlife, which all make for an unforgettable journey down its meandering length. History lovers shouldn’t miss a ride on one of the restored paddle steamers available in nearly all Murray River towns, from Echuca Moama to Mildura and Swan Hill. Each offers its own paddle steamer with a nostalgic steam whistle, centuries-old design and variety of special cruise events.
The Murray River is blessed with many hidden wetlands, unreachable via larger vessels. Fortunately, guests can hire canoes or kayaks and paddle their way through these untarnished natural gems with unique birdlife and native flora. Stand-up paddleboarding has also become a popular means of touring the river, but more modern comforts reside purely in hiring a pleasure craft.
Home to the prized Murray cod, Australia’s largest freshwater fish, the Murray River attracts thousands of anglers each year seeking out this trophy catch. From golden perch and trout to catfish and freshwater cray, fishing along the Murray River has always yielded entertaining and rewarding days on the water.
The riverside towns cater to fishing enthusiasts with annual competitions, such as the popular Deniliquin Fishing Classic, along with expert-led fishing charters and affordable boat hire. Visitors can cast a line out along the river bank, off the back of a boat or into the depths of Lake Hume. Those looking to fill their basket should head to Yarrawonga, Heywood’s Bridge in Albury, Katarapko National Park or Kings Billabong.
4. Walk or Ride
The Murray River is blessed with surrounding national parks that boast marked bushwalking trails, custom-designed mountain-bike tracks and dedicated areas for horse riding. Hiking routes in Gunbower National Park, Murray Valley National Park, and Yanga National Park immerse guests in the local wildlife and reward visitors’ efforts with unforgettable views of the rural landscape. The marked trails also teach visitors about the flora and fauna they might encounter along the way.
Murray Valley National Park, along with Nail Can Hill in Albury, both possess excellent mountain-bike terrain, impeccably maintained by the local community. The various paths offer different levels of difficulty, so everyone from beginners to experts can find a track to challenge themselves. Horse riding remains a popular pastime for visitors and locals alike in Echuca. The trails through Barmah National Park transport riders into a world of towering trees, singing birds and rural serenity.
5. Blood-Pumping Thrills
The Murray River region knows exactly how to get visitors’ blood pumping. See the mighty Murray River in a totally unique way with a 12,000-foot skydive at Corowa. The 45-second freefall gets divers travelling as fast as 200 kilometres per hour. Fortunately, there’s time to breathe and admire the pristine expanse of the Murray River once the parachute opens.
Forget planes with engines; the gilder planes from Corowa and Tocumwal aerodromes provide an unforgettable flight. Visitors soar through the air riding thermal columns that let the planes glide for longer than most. That remarkable feeling of unpowered flight coupled with the breathtaking scenery below delivers an immense rush of adrenalin.
Those who prefer to be in the cockpit instead of falling can fulfill their pilot dreams at Jarden Aviation at Yarrawonga Airport. For less than $100, visitors can take the controls of a Cessna 172 or Piper Tomahawk during a 20-minute supervised Trial Instructional Flight.
A houseboat on the Murray River offers untold freedom, luxury and adventure. Holidaymakers can begin each day in a new place, cruising from one destination to the next while taking in the scenery. Nowadays houseboats feature the space and amenities to challenge the most exclusive hotels, typically welcoming guests with full kitchens, top decks, barbeques and lounge rooms. Houseboats boast ample space, with enough bedrooms for anywhere between four and 12 passengers.
Whether it’s swimming, bike riding, golf, winery tours, kayaking or simply relaxing with a good book, a houseboat can accommodate all types of travellers with a number of hire companies providing a refreshing range of boats of varying styles and cost.
Top 3 Murray River Hotels for Active Travellers
Positioned right in the centre of Mildura, Aquarius All Suite Apartments is situated close to three lakes and the Murray River. After a day out on the water, guests can return to chic one or two-bedroom apartments with fully-equipped kitchens and in-room spas. There’s also an undercover pool for those rare rainy days.
Ibis Styles Swan Hill encourages outdoor recreation with its mini-golf course, playground, half tennis court, lagoon-style pool and barbeque lawn. The two-bedroom suites are ideal for a family holiday, and is conveniently positioned close to the Murray River and Swan Hill’s leafy Riverside Park.
Paddle steamers, wineries, Mildura’s championship golf course and other riverside activities are all nearby when travellers stay at Quality Resort Inland Mildura. A large pool, tennis court and landscaped gardens provide plenty of on-site entertainment. The hotel’s restaurant is a charming spot for a buffet breakfast or a la carte dinner, while the spacious rooms cater to couples, groups and families.
Why are you visiting the Murray River?
The Murray River certainly caters to the outdoors types with a diverse range of water and land-based experiences. Houseboats are a great option, but visitors can rest easy knowing each town provides its own renowned accommodation. Over the years, our visitors have appreciated the hotels which offer a range of room types. These tend to provide more affordable options for families and anyone else travelling on a budget.
Whether visitors are partial to a quiet drink among riverside scenery or absolutely crazy for some blood-pumping free falls, this iconic region never fails to impress. Certain times of the year are better for specific activities, but with such a variety the Murray River remains one of the country’s best year-round destinations.
What are you most excited about when travelling to the Murray River? Fishing, waterskiing, hiking or even skydiving? Let us know in the comments below.