|Murray Valley Explorer|
|Wodonga - Mildura|
This itinerary explores the Victorian section of the magnificent 2600 km-long Murray River, taking in historic townships, wine regions and, naturally, the river itself - with its impressive river red gums, sandy beaches and scenic boat trips.
Travel northeast from Melbourne on the Hume Freeway, passing Wangaratta, before arriving in Wodonga. Twinned with Albury, just over the border in New South Wales, this substantial city is located right on the Murray River and close to vast Lake Hume: the area is ideal for fishing, cycling and scenic drives.
From Wodonga, follow the Murray Valley Highway to charming Rutherglen, where the local wine industry has operated since the mid-19th century. There are almost twenty wineries to visit in the area, which is famous for its particularly good reds and fortified wines such as port, muscat and tokay. The highway then takes you past Lake Mulwala, where there are walking tracks, picnic areas, and plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating, waterskiing and birdwatching, to Yarrawonga and Cobram, at the heart of a fruit growing and dairying region.
After veering south, the highway returns to the river at the attractive town of Echuca. This region is full of fascinating history - of the days when the Murray was alive with boats and Echuca was Australia’s largest inland port. Allow plenty of time to explore the Port of Echuca precinct, with its old wharves, paddle steamers and a shipwright’s yard. Another must is taking a paddle steamer cruise on the river, and you can also visit the Murray River Aquarium and the National Holden Museum.
You’ll then pass through picturesque wheat, sheep and dairying country and reach the small town of Kerang, the starting point of an extensive lakes system that is home to many thousands of waterbirds. The next main town is Swan Hill, originally a river port but now an important agricultural service centre. You can take paddle steamer and launch cruises on the Murray and visit 1860s Murray Downs Homestead and 1840s Tyntyndyer Homestead, but the highlight here is undoubtedly the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement, a superb re-creation of a 19th-century township.
Further downstream there’s an interesting detour over the border to Tooleybuc (see below) before you reach the wineries around Robinvale and then Mildura, the main centre of this fertile `Sunraysia` area. This region is famed for its fine produce - there are many wineries here, including Stanley Wines and a Lindemans operation, and fruit growing is another major occupation. Take a paddle steamer cruise, browse around the many arts and crafts shops, and discover the area’s history on the Chaffey Trail driving tour, which tells the story of the Canadian Chaffey brothers who brought irrigation to this region in the 1880s.
As Victoria’s most northerly and westerly town, Mildura is also the gateway to the Outback and some exceptional national parks - visit the riverlands and lakes of Hattah-Kulkyne and Murray-Kulkyne, or head over the border to World Heritage listed Mungo National Park, with its extraordinary scenery and long Aboriginal history.
ACROSS THE BORDER
There’s no need to limit yourself to the Victorian side of the Murray! Near Swan Hill you can cross the river to the small village of Tooleybuc for a round of golf or some great fishing, then continue to Balranald, one of the gateways to Mungo National Park. And from Mildura there’s a long but worthwhile drive to the Outback city of Broken Hill.
Where to Stay
Time required: 5 days are recommended.