There’s a relaxed vibe in this Murray River country town that keeps people coming back, says Laura Waters. Find out why Echuca landed at no.10 on your list of Top 50 Aussie towns.
Find the complete list of the Top 50 Aussie Towns here.
There’s a force that lures people to Echuca, and it’s like the pull of the moon. They come as kids, then return with their own families. They come for the sense of calm and connection. That force is the mighty Murray River. At 2508 kilometres, it’s Australia’s longest river and Echuca sits at its closest bend to Melbourne, a 2.5-hour drive south.
A massive port full of paddlesteamers
In the late 1800s, Echuca was Australia’s largest inland port, full of paddlesteamers pootling back and forth along the river. Today a few paddlesteamers still whistle their way along the Murray, anchoring the town in its history and serving as a reminder that life here revolves around the river. People come for the serenity, for watersports, wine, sunny skies (Echuca claims more sunny days than the Gold Coast) and starry nights.
Eating in Echuca
Johnny & Lyle is a favourite for breakfast through lunch, dishing up everything from Buddha bowls to haloumi burgers. The American Hotel, built in 1865, also has great options. Enjoy some fab pub food, a drink on the rooftop bar, or mouth-watering smoked barbecue and rotisserie meats at Harry O’s. Go to Junction Moama for sophisticated food, wine and cocktails.
Check out the American Hotel.
Wineries to visit in Echuca
This is the Perricoota wine region. Arrive at Morrisons Winery by paddlesteamer for a leisurely lunch, or join an e-bike winery tour to St Anne’s Winery with Green Pedal Cycles.
Staying in Echuca
This is houseboat central. Boats range from the simple to luxe with spa baths on deck, accommodating six to 12 people. No special skills are required. Options are many, but try Murray River Houseboats or Magic Murray Houseboats.
On land, CocknBull Boutique Hotel has characterful luxury apartments in the historic port precinct. Bush camping on shaded riverbanks is a popular option here, or you can go for a fully serviced park like Discovery Parks Echuca.
Playing in Echuca
You can’t come here without wandering the streets of the old port precinct, including Echuca Wharf. The Port of Echuca Discovery Centre explains the town’s history as a river trade centre that once processed up to 240 paddlesteamers a year. To ride the river in the way of old, hop aboard with Murray River Paddlestreamers and soak up the serenity, birds and gnarled red gums.
The Murray is a playground for canoeing, waterskiing, SUP and boating (pontoon boats are ideal for floating barbecues). Rent equipment from Echuca Boat and Canoe Hire. And spend a day driving the Echuca Moama Silo Art Trail.
Explore the region via the Echuca Moama Silo Art Trail.