MILDURA – THE AUSTRALIAN TRAVELLER GUIDE
Mildura straddles the NSW border in Victoria’s northwest, on the banks of Australia’s largest river – The Murray. It is an isolated, outback area, and although in Victoria the closet capital city is in fact Adelaide. It is 540kms from Melbourne and over 1,000 kms from Sydney.
Mildura really began in the late 1800′s when pioneering irrigators the Chaffey brothers purchased a cattle station called "Mildura". With a grant from the federal government the brothers set up an intensive irrigation scheme using the mighty Murray river. The Mediterranean climate and fertile lands have brought people from all cultures to live in this oasis on the banks of the Murray. Today, the Mildura region has world-class wines, fresh produce, excellent restaurants and cafes, and a year-round calendar of festivals and celebrations. The climate is sunny year around with mild winters and hot summers.
Mildura has grown to be a major regional centre with a population of over 30,000 and boasts many big city characteristics such as a university and a thriving arts scene.
Where to Stay
The standard rural options of motel/hotels like Comfort Inn, All Seasons, Best Western, Mercure are all available. The pick is the Quality Hotels Mildura Grand which also houses the town’s most famous restaurant, Stefano’s. Alternatively seek out a holiday rental the pick of which is the Murray Haven on 13th. Out of town there are some excellent options like a farmstay at Turlee Station. For more adventure though hope in a houseboat, that’s what the Murray is known for.
What to Do
The Mildura folk have a festival calendar that is the envy of the rest of rural Australia so almost any time of year, there will be some kind of festival. The big ones are the Jazz Food & Wine Festival (October), International Music Festival (January), Arts Festival (February) and the Alternative Wine Varieties Shows (November). The weekly farmers markets are also well worth a look.
It’s the place to cruise the Murray for a couple of nights, and one of the great delights is to pack your golf clubs, park the boat have a swing and refreshment and then continue your leisurely cruise. Mildura is also the leaping off point for the amazing Mungo National Park and a tour with one of Australia’s top indigenous tours, Harry Nanya Tours. You can also stay out at Mungo Lodge. Or alternatively explore the Perry Sandhills, these massive sand dunes are a freak of geology and remains of megafauna (think wombats the size of a truck) have been found.
When to Travel
Well every month there is a great range of events however the best times would be Spring and Autumn when its not too cold and not too hot but just right.
Mildura is near the borders of three states, on the crossroads of transport links between three capital cities, and near the meeting point of Australia’s two great rivers: the Murray and Darling. Mildura’s regional airport, 11 km south of Mildura on the Sturt Hwy, is serviced by QantasLink, Virgin Blue, Regional Express (Rex) and Sharp Aviation, with these commuter airlines offering daily flights from Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. Hire cars are available through the five major rental companies. There is no direct train route to Mildura, with the roughly 7hr journey passing first to Swan Hill or Bendigo, then via the V/Line Coach (13 61 96) to Mildura. Greyhound (13 14 99) travels daily to Mildura from Adelaide and Sydney.
Harry Nanya Tours is the only fully Aboriginal-owned and operated business in the Mildura/Wentworth region. Our traditional Aboriginal guides specialise in the World Heritage-listed Mungo National Park, whereby joining us becomes a journey deep into the history and culture of their people. The tour is highlighted with spectacular views of the Walls of China - a 30-kilometre crescent-shaped lunette of white sand dunes that were once the shores of Lake Mungo. Day and sunset tours include a buffet meal and bush tucker tasting, with pick up from your accommodation in Wentworth, NSW or Mildura, Victoria. Contact Details T: (03) 5027...
Where is it? Near the Victorian border, 6km west of Wentworth How to see it for yourself? There’s a car park on Old Renmark Rd. Explore 400 acres of sand dunes solo or take a private tour, arranged through Wentworth Visitor Centre. Keep an eye out for the God Tree, a Murray River gum said to be over 500 years old with its trunk buried deep in the sand. It’s behind the car park shelter over the nearest sandhill. Why I love it “I love that you can feel so remote while being so close to a town. Take cardboard with you. It’s a hoot...
The winner of this issue's 'Your Shot' competition goes to Ronald Rockman, taken of a wheat field near Mildura, in Northern Victoria. WINNING PHOTO: 'CROP FACTOR' Taken: January 2009 “This is one of my favourite shots. I was floating in a hot-air balloon, 20 kilometres south of Mildura, in Northern Victoria. It was just after sunrise and the ploughed wheat field below me looked like a giant fingerprint. I loved the small oasis that the farmer had left in his wheat field; it gave me great pleasure. I leaned over the side of the basket and clicked.” – Ronald Rockman, Caulfield, Vic CALLING ALL...
Artistic AT reader Joanne Croke was inspired by the beauty of an iconic outback NSW landmark on a recent trip to Mungo National Park. I pack my sketchbook, pencils, camera and clothes. My destination is Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes region of NSW, just north of Mildura, where I will collect new material for an art exhibition. I have always wanted to go to Lake Mungo, a dried lakebed walled on one side by sand dunes called the Walls of China. I want to see the country of long-gone Mungo Lady and Mungo Man – the remains of whom...
On the banks of the Murray lies a town that is surviving, thriving and drawing visitors from around the world. Considered the fruit basket of Victoria’s far northwest, Mildura's a small town with big surprises. The premise is simple. I’ve had it up to here with Sydney and I want a weekend away. But I want to go somewhere different. Somewhere my friends haven’t visited. Somewhere with neither casinos nor 30,000-seat stadiums. Then serendipity occurs; I get a call from AT’s editor. “Do you fancy a trip to Mildura?” That’s not what I was expecting. By “different” I was thinking...
AT's guide to the best cheap accommodation for summer and Christmas holidays Mildura Why do we rate it? Mildura is the beating heart of the Murray River. It’s a great base for exploring the mighty waterway. Where is it? 550km/7hrs north-west of Melbourne; 420km/ 5hrs 30 mins north-east of Adelaide. Where to stay Beds along the river are hard to find, but Mildura Houseboats offers great accommodation, and you can explore 60km of waterways. Family boats have two queen beds, double bunks and fold-outs, a shaded top deck, barbecue and TV. On dry land, try Apex Riverbeach Holiday Park, which...
Mungo Lodge is the place for new and rich travel experiences. This 4 star sophisticated outback property has a commitment to eco- sensitive management and ensures an intimate and unique experience. Surrounded by the Mungo National Park and Willandra lakes region, these sites have natural and cultural significance. Mungo Lodge is very accessible with its own private airstrip and an aircraft parking area at the rear of the lodge. Mungo Lodge’s Restaurant & Bar open for breakfast, lunch and dinner brings a new meaning to dining in the outback and is available to both guests of Mungo Lodge...
Experience No.056 in Australian Traveller Magazine's 100 Greatest Australian Gourmet Experiences. Regional Australia hasn’t always been a haven of fine dining. Once upon a time you’d be lucky to find a meat pie that wasn’t from a packet. Not so any more. Leading the charge in the Mildura region is Stefano de Pieri. “Stefano unquestionably cooks with his heart.” – Peter Russell-Clarke Beneath the comprehensively restored and aptly named Grand Hotel in Mildura is Stefano’s. From a cosy underground bastion of fine dining, Stefano has brought a laser-like focus to local Mildura produce using European flair. He serves up a...
On the fertile banks of the Murray River, the art scene has flourished and become an integral part of the remote city of Mildura on the NSW/Victoria border. The importance of artistic expression has become pronounced during recent climatic and economic struggles, and Mildura has become something of a beacon of culture and a model for other towns and indeed the country. The community initiated Arts mildura project serves to cultivate local talent while attracting international artists and visitors. Opening with the International Music Festival (January 20-31), which is a collaboration of musical skill inspiring through performances and workshops in...
The ever-shifting sands of Lake Mungo National Park are Australia’s window into deep time, where people sat, cooked and talked tens of thousands of years ago. Professor Dirk HR Spennemann has ventured this way before. But he never tires of taking the journey, and it always leaves its mark. No matter how often I go back, I’m captivated by the richness and magic of Lake Mungo. A visit here is a visit to deep time. Don’t expect to go for a dip, though; the last time this Lake was full was some 14,000 years ago. As one of the overflow...
With a population of 30,000 this outback Victorian town may sound like a disappointment, but ATs Cameron Blair has discovered a little more than dust and dirt. Let’s face it. Mildura isn’t going to blow your mind with bright lights or loud nightclubs. The main claim that the tourism people make is that 95 percent of Australia’s dried fruit is produced here. Excited? Yeah I bet you are. It’s in the middle of nowhere and while everyone has heard of it - not enough have actually visited. And that’s not your fault. You see it’s these tourism people. Marketing a...
We love Mildura because its relative isolation has bred an independence among the town’s passionate locals. With a population of 30,000-plus, Mildura is one of the biggest on our Top 100. It’s also very isolated – ten minutes out of town and you’re in the outback – and in fact it’s closer to Adelaide than its state capital of Melbourne. We love Mildura because its relative isolation has bred an independence among the town’s passionate locals. Mildura was founded in 1886 by the Chaffey brothers, pioneering Californian irrigators. With irrigation comes grapes, fruit and wine. With grapes, fruit and wine...
The Perry Sandhills are a remarkable eons-old geological formation. So guess what we used them for? Target practice! During WWII the red rippling dunes were used for bombing practice runs. We can sort of see the logic in that; one big explosion moves a whole lot of sand from one dune to the next. But we digress. These remarkable dunes, covering an area of 10ha, are much smaller than their famous neighbour in Lake Mungo National Park. But what they lack in size they more than make up for in sheer beauty. They feature regularly on TV and film, and...
My behaviour over Easter isn't dissimilar to that of a voracious bear, with lingering lunches and gluttonous meals. So, to justify the amount I consume, I convince myself that I'm storing energy for the coming winter months. My favourite place to do this is in Mildura; it's my annual "eat till it hurts" festival. When a town affectionately refers to one of its main roads as "Feast Street", you have to jump into your fat pants and hit the highway headed to Mildura. You won't be disappointed. AT has two must do's in a region spoilt for choice: Stefano's and Trentham Estate. The produce from the area is truly excellent,...
Never mind visiting the Great Wall of China – a mere 2000 years old. When compared with Mungo National Park’s Walls of China, the Chinese version just doesn’t stack up. Our Walls, for example, while admittedly a little shorter (33km versus more than 6000km) are way older – by about 13,000 years. Our Walls have fossils. Our Walls have displayed evidence that humans have continuously occupied the region for 45,000 years. “To walk among middens with the remains of fish meals consumed thousands of years before Europa was even a goddess is a perspective you’ll never get while seeking...
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