Once a roaring centre of wool and wheat trade, today the paddle steamers of Echuca carry those who have travelled from around the country to experience the Mighty Murray River. Twinned with the NSW town of Moama across the way, Echuca Moama certainly has a rich cultural and natural heritage for them to uncover.
Start with a paddleboat ride among the river red gums of Australia’s longest river, keeping your eyes peeled for Murray cod or graceful egrets. Discover the history of the inland port that was founded by an ex-convict, shipping wool and other goods around the colony.
Mother Nature is a major attraction here, so book in for action-packed days of kayaking, horseriding, fishing and hiking. Slow it down as you explore buzzing farmers’ markets, intimate cellar doors with friendly locals, and relax beachside at a river camp.
Steam into the past with a trip with Murray River Paddlesteamers, hearing about the Murray River town’s past as the ‘paddle steamer capital’. Lunch and dinner tours, as well as trips to a local winery and overnight cruises, are available.
Overlook acres of wine and the Murray River at Morrisons Riverview Winery Restaurant and Brewery. Arriving by paddle steamer when you take a Wharf to Winery tour, settle in for a long lunch on the deck, while the kids tire themselves out at the playground.
Back in town, there’s a series of creative spirits and beer recipes to try out at Echuca Distillery and Café. From Hot Cross Bun Gin Liqueur to Philadelphia Hibiscus Rose, the extra-inventive tasting boards can be enjoyed with an antipasti plate.
Stop off at the dog-friendly St Annes Winery Cellar Door in Echuca to try drops by local winemakers. Housed in what was once a carriage builder’s workshop, today the walls are lined with heritage barrels filled with port.
As well as taking a paddle steamer, there is lots to do with kids at Echuca Moama. Head to Billabong Ranch to take a ride on their horse-drawn carriages, have a pony ride or do the multitude of activities available at the Billabong Fun Park.
Come summer, the Aqua Island Moama is inflated on a freshwater lake. Jumping from one floating obstacle to another above the water, you’ll soon be having more fun than the kids.
Tours for Echuca
Take a two-hour eco-tour into the River Red Gum Forest with Kingfisher Cruises, going on board the MV Kingfisher deep into Barmah National Park. While sailing through the narrow Barmah Choke, the certified eco guide will tell you stories about some of the hundreds of flora and fauna that are in the areas, as well as the Barmah Wetlands and Forest’s significance to the local Yorta Yorta Indigenous people.
Get a group together to hire a Murray River houseboat (you don’t need a special licence to drive). Alternatively, book a cabin berth onto one where you don’t have to drive, like with Murray River Paddlesteamers.
Take the wheel when you pick one of the six vessels in the Murray River Houseboats fleet, like the luxurious Indulgence. With a 10-person spa, surround system and welcome hamper, you’ll feel uber-relaxed and pampered. For an intimate experience, the environmentally-friendly Houseboat For Two is perfect for couples looking to escape upriver.
Kick back when you stay in one of the self-contained villas at the four-star Tindarra Resort at Echuca Moama. Children will love running around the sprawling grounds on the banks of the river or splashing away under the waterfall of the pool.
There is also the Murray River Resort. With dozens of cottages, solar-heated pools, playgrounds and tennis courts, it’s a dream hotel where kids will be making those summer BFFs in no time.
Pull up in your caravan at Discovery Parks – Maidens Inn Moama for a holiday park with all the trimmings. The caravan park has a boat ramp, as well as a waterpark, swimming pool, playground and much more. Moama Waters offers a quiet and family-friendly stay, with powered and ensuite sites, as well as villas.
For free camping near Echuca Moama, Betts Bend Beach and Christie’s Beach both offer riverside camping, with the latter having basic pit toilets, picnic tables and fireplace facilities.
Down in the historic port area, grab a cheap and scrumptious breakfast of pastries at the Moama Bakery Port Cafe. For a hearty and eco-conscious brunch, The Sweet Meadow vegan cafe is the way to go. With a plant-based menu that includes enoki mushroom tacos and a snickers smoothie bowl, eating here is a crowd-pleaser for vegos and meat-eaters alike.
Stop by at the lively American Hotel for a country pub lunch of pork and fennel sausages or smoked pulled pork pizza. By nightfall, sip on sundowners up on the rooftop bar, while in the morning, the deli opens up to dish out sliders and subs.
The Mill Echuca is another fun evening option. Housed in an old brick five-story flour mill that dates back to the Murray heyday in the 1880s, today you’ll find a bar and cocktail lounge and a restaurant with a modern Australian flavour where there were once sacks of grain.
The Junction restaurant and bar on the Murray River in Moama has stunning flavours to try, with a marked dedication to local producers in dishes such as cod belly katsu. Dose up on soul food at Port 53, a Creole-French Cajun restaurant whose plates include shrimp (prawn) jambalaya, maple slaw and deep-fried beignets with sugar dusting.
Echuca and Moama are a three-hour drive from Melbourne. From Canberra, it is a six-hour drive, and from Sydney, it will take around eight hours. You can even extend the drive, and make it a Murray River road trip.
If you’d rather take public transport, the V/Line has direct bus services between Echuca and Melbourne, via Bendigo. From Sydney, you can get a train to Albury, before getting a coach to Echuca.
With hot summers and cold winters, the best bet for visiting the Victorian town of Echuca is the spring or autumn (unless you want to drop by during the Echuca Moama Winter Blues (festival, that is).
In late November, the Perricoota Pop & Pour Festival is on, with shuttle buses that take you between wineries, brewers and music gigs in the Murray Region. In May, it’s time for the Moama Lights art festival.
Experience Armidale’s Big Chill Festival with craft beer, local wine, BBQ fare and fire pits to keep you toasty warm! Enjoy live music featuring Birds of Tokyo, Dragon, Lisa Hunt and more! Big Chill 13-14 May.
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