The best things to do along the Murray River

Whether you’re hiking, drifting, paddling, dining or simply blissing-out, there’s a cornucopia of activities and attractions to discover along the Murray River.

The Murray is Australia’s longest river, and one of the longest navigable waterways in the world. It flows for more than 2,500 kilometres – with only the Amazon and the Nile stretching further. From the Snowy Mountains in NSW, it travels all the way through Victoria. Then on to South Australia, before finally spilling into the Southern Ocean.

Along its slow-moving course, you’ll find redgum-lined lagoons and lakes, wetlands and islands. All of which create a vast watery wonderland that attracts adventure-seekers, sybarites and culinary connoisseurs in equal measure.

Read on to discover the best things to do along the Murray River.

Houseboat Living: Unique stays along the Murray River

Cruise at a leisurely pace by day, relax on the river at night. What could be better than a houseboat stay on the Murray River? Moor among redgums for a swim or a kayak…or simply enjoy a glass of wine as the sun goes down. The best part? You’ll feel safe in the knowledge that you don’t have to travel far to reach your room for the night. Welcome to the wonderful world of houseboats on the Murray River.

These floating hotels along the Murray and its tributaries come in all shapes and sizes. You can drift away (no boating license required) on houseboats ranging from all out-luxury to simple homes on the water. Choose from features like rooftop spas, marbled kitchens, air-conditioning and water toys, while some houseboats are pet-friendly.

For adventurous types, this is also a great way to explore some of the lesser-known areas of the Murray Region. True explorers can use them as a base for further adventures. You can even take off down some of the river’s smaller tributaries in a canoe, kayak or dinghy.

Paddle boarding in the Murray Region
SUPing on the Murray River at Echuca Moama. Image: Pat Suraseang/Murray River Council/ Destination NSW

Or jump aboard the PS Emmylou paddlesteamer, departing Echuca Moama. You can enjoy a cruise with a meal, or stay overnight, with two-to-six-night cruises. Later, you can explore the history of the paddlesteamer industry when you alight at the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre.

A taste of the Murray River Region

Produce-driven cafes and restaurants to foodie trails. Farmers markets and orchards to olive groves. Not to mention the wineries, whiskey distilleries and craft breweries. It goes without saying that the Murray region doesn’t disappoint on the food and drink front.

And, of course, many of the top places to eat and drink come with water views. Take the family-owned Trentham Estate winery, on a bend of the Murray south of Mildura, for example. If the visiting paddle steamers aren’t tied up, you can dock your houseboat right out front. Afterwards, wander up the bank for a bottle of wine and cheese on the lawn. Pure bliss.

Meanwhile, if you’re based around Lake Mulwala, Blacksmith Provedore should be on your dining itinerary. The views are just as covetable at the aptly named River Deck Cafe in Albury. Slide-in for organic Milawa eggs and Wahgunyah mushrooms on sourdough for breakfast. Alternatively, you could linger over a lunch of grilled Murray cod. Or stay for a platter of artisan cheeses from nearby fromagerie The Peaks. 

River Deck Cafe Albury
Sample some local dishes at River Deck Cafe, Albury © Destination NSW

Feeling thirsty after a day on the Murray River? You’re in luck! The small grape-growing region of Perricoota is just northwest of Echuca Moama. It’s fast becoming known for its shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay varietals. Furthermore, you can try them for yourself at Morrisons Riverview Winery – also home to a standout restaurant and brewery. Meanwhile, for serious wine connoisseurs, it’s just a short drive to Rutherglen, one of Victoria’s most fabled wine regions.

Explore one of the many national parks

Travel 30 kilometres northeast of Albury and find yourself transported to the largest patch of protected forest west of the Great Dividing Range. Welcome to Woomargama National Park. This is where echidnas, wombats and wallabies roam wild through box woodlands, and rare phantom wattles colour the countryside golden yellow in spring.

Follow the river west to the Murray Valley National Park. It has 41,600 hectares of wilderness and nature to explore. It also happens to be part of the largest continuous redgum forest in the world. Alongside its Ramsar-listed wetlands, the important ecosystem is a haven for threatened native flora and fauna. In fact, there are more than 60 animal and 40 plant threatened species. Meanwhile, Barmah National Park is an adventure lover’s paradise, home to the world’s largest river red gum forest. 

National Park
Explore the region’s range of national parks and natural wonders © Rob Blackburn/DNSW

Further northwest still you’ll discover the ethereal dry lakebeds and distinctive red sand dunes that characterise Mungo National Park. This World Heritage-listed expanse shows evidence of Aboriginal communities dating back more than 50,000 years. It is also home to the Mungo Lady and Mungo Man, the 42,000-year-old remains of Homo sapiens. Needless to say, exploring the shore of ancient Lake Mungo or gazing over the Walls of China – its sand and clay dunes carved over thousands of years of erosion – is a humbling experience.

Discover a region rich in culture and art

Alongside days spent on the river, tasting local flavours and exploring the region’s wealth of national parks, Murray River is home to a fine range of cultural experiences. Take the Murray Art Museum Albury for example. The museum houses a well-curated collection of 2,400 photographs, paintings, ceramics, woodcarvings and Aboriginal artefacts.

Additionally, the Murray’s Region’s Indigenous cultural heritage and creativity can also be glimpsed along the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk, just outside of town. Featuring 11 installations, all created by Aboriginal artists, each comes with interpretive signs to reveal their significance. They’re scattered along a section of the longer riverside Wagirra Trail, eventually leading to the Murray’s bird-rich Wonga Wetlands.

Heritage Trail
Wagirra Trail and Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk, West Albury © Destination NSW

Meanwhile, you can step into a living museum at the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement. This full recreation of a 19th-century port town has everything from a traditional inn to a grocery store. Hop onto a horse-drawn carriage to see the town sights, including a typical 1880s Mallee homestead.

Next up, get the whole family to dress up together for a vintage photograph onboard the paddle-steamer PS Pyap. Finally, finish off your trip with the award-winning ‘Heartbeat of the Murray’, a spectacular water, fire and laser display.

Family canoeing Australia
Start making your own Murray Region memories © Destination NSW

Start your own Murray Region story

Whether you go for the food, drink, art, great outdoors or simply the relaxed, riverside lifestyle, the Murray Region has something for everyone. You can find out everything you need to know about planning a trip to the region at Visit The Murray.

This article was produced in partnership with The Murray Regional Tourism Board.

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