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Goulburn-Murrary Waters Region
Cohuna on the Murray Get your boat, grab your water skis, pack your cossie! The emphasis in this low-rainfall inland region of north and central Victoria is on water. The great Murray River and its tributary the Goulburn provide the focal points for a region that encompasses Seymour to the south (90 kilometres north of Melbourne), Cobram on the NSW-Victoria border, Cohuna further north-west along the Murray and the towns and waterways that lie within this vaguely triangular area.
Climate
Rainfall in the area is low: summers are hot, while winters are cool and there are distinct seasonal changes.
How do I get there?
Getting to the beautiful Goulburn–Murray Waters region is easy. Its most southerly point, Seymour, lies a mere 90km from Melbourne along the Hume Highway. From here, the Goulburn Valley Highway and the Murray Valley Highway will take you to the places you want to visit.
What are the main towns?
The main towns in the region include: Shepparton, Seymour, Euroa, Cobram and Echuca.
What's there to do in the region?
The lakes and streams of the Goulburn–Murray water system are a playground for the holidaymaker, with all manner of water sports, from fishing and swimming to rowing, water-skiing and more daring aquatic pursuits. They are also essential to the agricultural industry of the area. Waters from the rivers were harnessed for irrigation as early as the late 1800s, and today an extensive system of lakes and reservoirs supplies nearly 2 million megalitres of water per year for domestic and agricultural use.
As a result of the irrigation system the region is a major producer of fruit, vegetables, dairy products and increasingly these days, wine. Local produce, including peaches, pears, apples and grapes, is canned at factories in Shepparton, and a visit to Greater Shepparton in spring will reward with a view of fields of blossoming orchards, the produce of which you can sample at roadside stalls or factory outlets.
Shepparton makes a good base for day tours through the Murray–Goulburn area. To the south lie the Nagambie Lakes and Strathbogie Ranges, and further south towards Seymour some of Victoria’s most famous wineries. A trip detouring off the Goulburn Valley Highway from Nagambie can take the traveller to Longleat Winery, David Traegar Wines, Chateau Tahbilk, Mitchelton Wines and Hankin Estate. Many of the wineries have restaurant, picnic and barbeque facilities as well as cellar door sales and tastings. Mitchelton Winery, for example, features a high modern viewing tower, extensive picnic area and children’s playground. Chateau Tahbilk contrasts with its wooden cellars and old-world charm.
Also within easy distance of Nagambie and Shepparton is the historic town of Euroa, which Ned Kelly and his gang raided in 1878. From their takings at Euroa and at Jerilderie two months later, the gang was able hold out in the bush, handing out sums to those they thought worthy, for a year.
Setting out north from Shepparton along the Goulburn Valley Highway, it is little more than 60 kilometres to Cobram, Barooga and the mighty Murray. Here the focus is very much on water, from the lagoons and billabongs westward that provide homes to many species of waterbirds, to the pleasures of Lake Mulwala to the east, with its more technologically driven activities such as parasailing and boom-netting. Canoeing, sailing, waterskiing or paddleboating are all available in this stretch of the Murray, and extensive public camping grounds are located along the sandy riverside beaches.
Along this part of the Murray too you can see stands of majestic river red gums, most impressively in Barmah State Park and Barmah State Forest, the largest red gum forest in the world. Here the World Heritage-listed wetlands play host to more than 220 bird species, and you can also find the Dharnya Aboriginal Centre, which informs visitors of the area’s indigenous history and cultural importance. Aboriginal guided walking tours are also conducted through the park. The 4-kilometre self-guided Barmah Lakes Loop Track passes middens and oven mounds of the Yorta Yorta people, who have lived here for more than 40,000 years.
Less than 20 kilometres downstream from the town of Barmah (that is south-west) is the junction of the of the Goulburn and Murray rivers, and a few more kilometres on the Campaspe River joins the Murray. This is where the twin towns of Echuca and Moama (on the NSW side of the Murray) are situated and where the heart of the old river trade lay. Echuca developed as a port from the 1850s, where produce was unloaded from steamers and transported by rail to Melbourne. Today the wharf, which once stretched for about a kilometre, stands as the centrepiece before a backdrop of restored historic buildings. Paddle-steamers still ply the Murray, but their cargo is now tourists on day or overnight cruises.
Leaving Echuca along the Murray Valley Highway for Cohuna takes the traveller past Gunbower Island and Gunbower State Forest. Gunbower Island, sitting between Gunbower Creek, an anabranch (a branch of a river which leaves the main stream and enters it again further on) of the Murray, and the Murray itself, covers about 45,000 hectares and is said to be Australia’s largest inland island. The island contains a magnificent wetland area with extensive river red gum on lower ground, contrasting with the box forest of the higher areas. About 160 species of birds find protection in the island’s wildlife sanctuary, as do kangaroos, wallabies and other native fauna.
The town of Cohuna sits on the Murray adjacent to Gunbower Island and marks the start of Golden Rivers country. From here as the Murray winds its way north and west the countryside is dotted with lakes and wetlands, ideal for boating, birdwatching and fishing. People intending to fish should contact the Golden Rivers Visitor Information Centre for information on seasonal or local restrictions.
Part of the natural beauty of this part of Victoria comes from the seasonal changes of colour and temperature. Many of the localities have designated walking or cycling tracks which take in the some of the best natural and man-made features. It’s always a shame to miss out on things, so along with the boat, water skis and cossies it might be an idea to throw in bikes and running shoes.


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