AUSTRALIA’S longest river, the Murray, rises near Mount Kosciuszko in the Australian Alps and runs more than 2,500 kilometres to the Southern Ocean near Goolwa, South Australia. Beautiful little towns are dotted all along the mighty Murray River and with a Melbourne car rental you can explore any number of them. Here are five destinations to discover along the way after with each town distinctively its own.
Where: 220km north of Melbourne
Home to the world’s largest paddlesteamer fleet, Echuca lives up to its title of Australia’s Paddlesteamer Capital. These riverboats have been travelling the Murray since 1853, so what better way to experience the Murray’s bygone era than with a paddleboat ride? From the historic Port Precinct, which still operates much the same as it did 150 years ago, go back in time with a ride aboard Australia’s oldest paddlesteamer, the P.S. Adelaide.
Where: 390km north east of Adelaide
Your taste buds are in for a treat in Mildura, known as the centre of Victoria’s Food Bowl. Home to big skies and gorgeous landscapes, Mildura grows much of the country’s dried fruit, olives, pistachios and almonds. It also produces most of Australia’s Chardonnay, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, and many other varieties. Sample these exquisite varieties at a local winery or at one of Mildura’s many tasting centres.
Where: 320km north east of Melbourne
These twin cities are located either side of the Murray, with Albury to the north and Wodonga to the south. Beautiful parklands and mountain backdrops connect the two. Here, you’ll find an interesting blend of city style and relaxed, country charm. Explore their lively shopping precincts and trendy art galleries. Experience the area’s lively pub scene or go fishing along the river for the famous Murray Cod.
Where: 340km north west of Melbourne
Swan Hill earned its name after an explorer camped here in the 1830s, only to be disturbed all night by noisy swans. Learning about Swan Hill’s rich pioneer history could keep you enthralled for days. Visit the Pioneer Settlement to learn about the hardship and perseverance of the people who called this part of inland Australia home in the 19th Century. You’ll also explore more than 50 recreated buildings, learning about historic machinery and household items from this period.
Where: 75km east of Adelaide
Murray Bridge is the largest town on the Murray River in South Australia – and arguably the greatest ‘family playground’ of all. In the ‘Heart of the Murraylands’ is a seemingly endless stream of activities for the whole family. With numerous walking trails, exciting watersports activities and river cruises, there’s never a dull moment. You can even head to Monarato Zoo, Australia’s largest open-range zoo, and hand-feed the friendly giraffes.