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Victoria: The Murray

Swan Hill
Murray 2
Murray 3
Murray 5
Murray 4

Victoria: The Murray

story by: Tom Ricketts

The Murray region of Australia covers Victoria’s northwest corner including Mildura, Swan Hill and Echuca. It’s a vast piece of land that starts with farms and orchards, and ends at the red sandy edge of Australia’s deserts. Running through the middle is the mighty Murray River which is not just the region’s namesake, but the whole life and blood of the region’s existence.

Probably the most popular destination in the Murray region is the town of Echuca. The town sits on the southern shore of the Murray River, and actually has a twin town on the northern shore called Moama. However because the Murray River doubles as the state line between Victoria and New South Wales, the towns are considered separate.

It may be a small town, but Echuca has a long history. The town is located at the closest point the Murray gets to Melbourne, so the town’s port was extremely important in the days before railways and highways. The days were the mid to late 1800’s, and the boat of choice was the majestic paddleboats which came from far and wide to load and unload goods bound for Melbourne. It’s thought that at one stage the river was home to the largest river fleet in the world!

Those days are gone, but a handful of beautiful old paddleboats exist and still call Echuca home. Take a cruise along the Murray River by day, or for a more unique experience, take an overnight cruise and experience the romance of the paddleboat era. It’s also a great way to spot wildlife as they come down to drink from the river at night.

Up the river is one of the larger towns in the region, Swan Hill. The town traces its past from the paddleboats too, and a couple still remain in the town. However it’s not cruising that’s the attraction here now, it’s fishing. Swan Hill is a popular spot for anglers wanting to land a Murray Cod, the largest freshwater fish in Australia and one of the largest in the world. If you’re not so lucky on the day, there’s plenty of restaurants in town who’ll be able to serve you up a sumptuous meal nonetheless.

The largest of the towns in the region is Mildura which sits right up in the northwest corner of the state near the borders of New South Wales and South Australia. The town of 30,000 is known as Victoria’s Fruit Bowl and produces the majority of pip fruits and grapes in the state. But of course, along with grapes comes wines and the town has an emerging wine scene numbering at over 40 wineries.

Funnily enough, another of the town’s main attractions are the nearby deserts. To the north and west of the town are several national parks with stunning sand dunes and desert scenery. The unworldly landscapes are best visited in an unforgettable early morning flight aboard a hot air balloon, or in the evening with a champagne as the sun slowly sets, turning the landscape into a remarkable sea of red.

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