The Best Food & Wine Experiences on the Murray River
Fine dining comes easy on the Murray River, where wine cellars, farmers markets and riverside meals are a daily indulgence. Considered one of Australia’s culinary hotspots, the Murray River is renowned for fresh, local produce that showcases the region’s spoils from fruit, artisanal cheeses, homemade sauces and award-winning wine.
Although Australia is well represented in the fine dining department, the Murray River region boasts local and international flavours, with riverside restaurants serving up Asian, Mediterranean and other exotic flavours. Annual food festivals, which incorporate live music, delicious fare and friendly company are a ‘must do’ when exploring the Murray River region.
The Murray River’s tranquil appeal doesn’t go to waste, with many restaurants, cafes and wineries occupying prime spots along the water’s edge. These set the scene for a memorable meal, whether dining with friends, family or that special someone. Get to know the Murray River’s ultimate food and wine experiences with this in-depth list. We’ve even found the best hotels for spoiling your taste buds, based on our 26 million-plus Australian visitors each year.
Wineries & Cellar Doors
From Moama to Wahgunyah, and Strathmerton to Katunga, the Murray River is bursting with first-class wine regions. These naturally gorgeous destinations welcome visitors with established cellar doors, serving up exceptional drops of vino.
Visitors can embark on organised tours of wineries or customise one for themselves. For a truly unique winery experience, why not jump on a historic paddle steamer and travel in true Murray River style from one cellar door to the next.
Experience the region like a local and meet the maker at each cellar door, where expert winemakers give guests an inside look at the winemaking process and offer a taste of delicious whites and reds. Visitors can purchase bottles to take home or stay a little longer to indulge in a meal brimming with fresh local produce.
With a lifestyle that celebrates fresh regional fare, the Murray River region showcases its spoils each week with a number of authentic farmers markets. It doesn’t matter if visitors are staying in Yarrawonga, Barooga, Moama, Albury or Echuca, almost every town on the Murray River boasts a popular farmers market.
These much loved community events deliver an assortment of delicious local produce to sample and buy. Hand-picked fruit and vegetables, artisan jams and cheese, homemade crafts and farm-fresh meats are just some of the treasures to be found. There are also live musicians, crowd entertainers and those small-town warm and fuzzies that keep visitors coming back. While most markets open bright and early, late risers can still partake in the festivities at events such as the QEII Twilight Market in Albury.
Each year, towns across the Murray River region welcome thousands of visitors for their annual food and wine festivals. These wonderful events draw on the local love for exquisite culinary flavours, high-quality cuisine, and a unique twist on traditional meals, using the freshest local produce available. Bellies are more than satisfied at festivals including the Swan Hill Region Food & Wine Festival in March and the Numurkah Foodbowl Festival in October.
Combine the best of Mildura’s seasonal fare with live music at the Mildura Jazz Food & Wine Festival. Over the course of five days, the beautiful town of Mildura on the banks of the Murray River puts on a foodie-inspired show with riverside pop-up stalls, live entertainment in bars and clubs, and organised swing dancing.
Or for a little indulgence, visit to the Merbein Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph, an all-day dessert and pastry extravaganza that includes high tea, cooking demos and a baking competition.
Dining on the River
With the natural spectacle of the mighty Murray River so close, it would be a shame to limit the dining environment to just four walls and a table. Fortunately, there’s a generous selection of fine-dining restaurants, bars and cafes along the water’s edge, which not only serve up delicious food, but also magical river vistas.
The River Deck in Albury Wodonga offers patrons a menu of locally-sourced cuisine while enjoying the ambience of kayaks and paddle steamers floating across the Murray River. Wine enthusiasts can indulge in some vino with a view at Cape Horn Winery or Morrisons Winery, while Mildura’s Gol Gol Hotel sets the scene for some classic pub seafood and alfresco dining right on the riverbank.
Housed in a historic brick building, Corowa Whisky and Chocolate combines two delicacies into what some may consider heaven on earth. First, the company thrives as a local distillery with an impressive 130 single malts. However, not content with being a master of one, Corowa Whisky and Chocolate also boasts its own chocolate factory where some of Australia’s most delectable confectionary is created.
Visitors can make their own chocolate freckles, buy an entire barrel of whisky or purchase a variety of other souvenirs from the region. There’s also an on-site restaurant, which pairs quality wines and liquor with gourmet food.
Murray River Restaurants & Bars
In addition to all its festivals, riverside restaurants, and unique wineries and distilleries, the Murray River region is routinely providing an enigmatic dining scene that matches its larger, cosmopolitan neighbours. The bigger towns, such as Albury and Mildura, are better-known for their foodie offerings but even the smaller communities are welcoming chic cafes, artisan bakeries and fancy restaurants.
The range of dining establishments has gifted this region an impressive choice of cuisine. Be sure to check out the award-winning Stefano’s at Mildura for authentic Italian, Ceres Restaurant in Echuca for balcony dining overlooking the river, or The Crossing Cafe in Deniliquin for a relaxed outdoor setting under large white umbrellas.
Best Murray River Hotels for Foodies
The Murray River region boasts some of the most unique accommodation options that cater to all tastes and budgets.
Be it a caravan on the banks of the river where you can throw in a line, a Mongolian-inspired yurt with private outdoor spa, hammock and barbeque facilities, a Tudor-style manor in the heart of the town, or five star luxury amongst the wildlife, your accommodation desires are easily met along the Murray River.
Visitors can completely immerse themselves in the Murray River while staying in Mongolian-inspired yurts at Talo Retreat. This unique accommodation set on the riverbank exudes a relaxing ambience with private outdoor spas, hammocks and an abundance of native wildlife. Visitors can whip up a culinary feast with the yurt’s barbeque facilities or dine at Moama’s nearby restaurants and cafes.
Albury Manor House
This Tudor-style manor brings yesteryear charm to the centre of Albury. Providing character and inviting warmth flow throughout, the on-site restaurant and wine bar Westminster Restaurant offers sophisticated vibes while the cosy suites boast in-room spa baths to relax and unwind. The exciting town of Albury unfolds right outside, where countless gastronomic experiences await alongside museums and shops.
Mercure Hotel Mildura
Mercure Hotel Mildura promises reliable service and convenience for any Murray River holiday. Located close to the river’s edge and Mildura Water Play Park, this hotel’s ideal for embracing the many restaurants, cellar doors and farmers markets in the area. Guests can rest easy in air-conditioned en suite rooms while enjoying quality on-site facilities such as a pool and masseuse.
Follow your stomach to the Murray River
Variety is certainly the spice of many Murray River meals. Whether visitors prefer dining al fresco, visiting cellar doors, pairing their chocolate with whisky or enjoying a lazy day by the river, the Murray River area has you covered.
The rural surroundings lend a tranquil atmosphere, however the culinary experience could be mistaken for the likes of Sydney or Melbourne, without the hefty price tag. A handful of opulent hotels have also found favour with HotelsCombined’s visitors for providing their own dining outlets that tempt guests and locals alike. The hardest part isn’t deciding where to go; it’s realising you might not have given yourself enough days to experience all that Murray River region has to offer!
What Murray River foodie experience is on your to-do list? Let us know in the comments below.