It’s by far the largest river in Australia. It begins as a small stream in the Australian Alps and 2520 river kilometres later it empties into the Southern Ocean near Goolwa in South Australia. The river meanders through contrasting Australian landscapes and towns that record the history of what used to be the most important trade route in Australia. The Murray has also allowed the development of Australia’s most important irrigated region and is widely known as the food bowl of the nation. Our tour begins in Albury/Wodonga on the Victorian-New South Wales Border and ends near Goolwa in South Australia. Along the way we will visit historic river towns such as Echuca, Swan Hill and Mannum, see a number of the major river lakes and weirs and be entertained and informed by local characters who and are part of the history of the Murray River.
Day 1 (D): Arrive Albury (Sunday 14 June, 2020)
After loading the coach and completing our passenger pick up service we are ready to go! We travel via Central Victoria to Albury. Albury (NSW) is separated from its sister city Wodonga (Victoria) by the Murray River. This is not the starting point of the Murray – that is many hundreds of kilometres further east in the high country of the Australian Alps. However, Albury/Wodonga is where the river widens and meanders through relatively flat country to Mildura and then flows into South Australia. We check into our overnight accommodation. (Meal inclusions: Welcome dinner)
Quality Siesta Resort Albury 02 60254555 – 1 night
Day 2 (BLD): Albury to Echuca (Monday 15 June, 2020)
Waking bright and early we take the short trip to marvel at the Hume Dam, formerly known as the Hume Weir, which is the main supply storage and one of the two major headwater storages for the River Murray system. Today we follow the Murray Valley Highway west towards Echuca. First stop is Yarrawonga situated on Lake Mulwala – the next downstream reservoir from Lake Hume. Lake Mulwala was formed by the completion of the Yarrawonga Weir.
It was part of the massive Lake Hume project to harness the waters of the Murray for irrigation. We have arranged a short cruise aboard the MV Paradise Queen. The lake is dominated by a vast number of trees standing in the water and the lovely homes along the foreshore. We will cruise past these towering River Red Gums and dozens of sandy beaches whilst enjoying morning tea. Back on the coach we head to Byramine Homestead. This fascinating colonial house was built in the early 1820s by Elizabeth Hume, sister in law of Hamilton Hume the explorer. It is one of the oldest homes in Australia and its name means ‘rustic retreat’ although it was, in essence, a fortress. Elizabeth Hume’s husband had been murdered by bushrangers, so, to protect herself and her 9 children, the house was built in an octagonal shape to provide a clear view of all angles in the case of attack.
Often the family had to hide in the cellar which we can see on our tour. We also enjoy a tour and a light lunch here before our afternoon drive to Echuca. (Meal inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel/Light lunch at Byramine Homestead)
Comfort Inn Echuca Moama Echuca 03 54823311 – 1 night
Day 3 (BLD): Historic Echuca (Tuesday 16 June, 2020)
After breakfast this morning we meet a local character who will help us understand the history and stories of the area of the Echuca Port. Our guide will point out areas of interest and fill us with tales of the colourful personalities who “crewed” the old river boats. All the events we learn about happened when trade was booming here at the turn of the century. We spend some time at the Information Centre which used to be Customs House and have a chance to look through Sharps Magic Movie House & Penny Arcade. Lunch today is on the river aboard the Pride of the Murray. This boat has quite a history. She is one of the many that were originally built in Echuca, but one of the few still operating from her home port. Back on dry land we reboard the coach for our afternoon drive to Swan Hill. There is another major river lake near here at Lake Boga which is home to the famous Catalina Flying Boat A24-30 - one of only 4 in Australia. The Catalina Flying Boat played an integral part in the allied defence of the South Pacific during World War 2. Lake Boga was an ideal stretch of water on which the mighty flying boats could alight. We make a brief stop at the Flying Boat Museum. All types of Flying Boats that were serviced at Lake Boga are represented in the Museum - with special sections dedicated to the United States of America and the Netherlands air craft and crew who visited Lake Boga during World War 2. From here we continue to Swan Hill. (Meal Inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel/Light lunch)
Campbell Motor Inn Swan Hill 03 50324427 – 1 night
Day 4 (BLD) Swan Hill Pioneer Museum (Wednesday 17 June, 2020)
This morning we are going to spend a couple of hours at the Pioneer Settlement Museum. The Settlement was founded to portray the development of inland Australia between 1830 and 1930. Located on the Little Murray River, it contains over 50 historic buildings, many of which carry on the business of 90 years ago. Some of the highlights are –
•Shops and activities in a 19th Century township, selling food and souvenirs made on site in century old traditions.
•Daily street theatre performances
•Free rides in horse drawn vehicles or vintage cars
•Old Cottage crafts.
After a light lunch here we are on our way again, following the Murray Valley Highway. Our afternoon stop is at Euston where we will enjoy afternoon tea from the coach overlooking the Murray. We then head into Mildura for our overnight stop. (Meal inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel/Light lunch)
Quality Hotel Mildura Grand 03 50230511- 1 night
Day 5 (BLD): Mildura & the SA Riverland (Thursday 18 June, 2020)
Today we will be taking a lunch cruise on the Paddle Vessel Rothbury to Trentham Estate Winery. Built in 1891, the PS Rothbury is one of the last "working" Paddlesteamers on the Murray. Before the cruise, which departs at 10.30am, we are going to make a brief visit to Woodsies Gem Shop, Australia’s largest gemstone cutting and jewellery manufacturing complex. It’s a fascinating place where we can see jewellery being manufactured and visit the exquisite showroom. We then board the Rothbury at the Mildura Wharf for the cruise upstream to the award winning Trentham Estate Winery on the banks of the Murray River. We will enjoy some great sightseeing and a BBQ lunch before returning to Mildura at about 3.30pm. Rejoining the coach we drive through to Barmera in the South Australian Riverland – our base for the next two nights. (Meal inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel/Lunch cruise)
Barmera Country Club Motor Inn 08 85882888 – 2 nights
Day 6 (BLD): Exploring the SA Riverland (Friday 19 June, 2020)
Barmera is located on yet another large Murray River Lake – Lake Bonney. Here we will see a monument dedicated to Sir Donald Campbell who attempted to break the Australian water speed record on Lake Bonney in the 1960’s.
He broke the Australian record, but not the world record, by achieving a speed of 216 mph! Next stop is Berri – one of the four major Riverland towns. Here we have arranged to join “Fay” – a fully restored river boast - for a lunch cruise on some of the widest and most picturesque sections of the Murray River. This afternoon we head to Loxton. The town was first settled by people of (predominantly) German origin, who were escaping religious persecution. This proud German heritage is still evident today. Much of the town’s fascinating history is on display at the Loxton Historical Village. The town was not settled until Cobdogla Station was established in the 1850’s. A William Loxton was a stockman on the Station who lived, with his wife Mary, in a slab hut on the riverbank. A replica of this hut was built in 1970 on its original site and this was the beginnings of the Loxton Historical Village. (Meal inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel/lunch cruise)
Day 7 (BLD): Heading Downstream to Goolwa (Saturday 20 June, 2020)
This morning we travel to Waikerie and onto Blanchetown where we can see Lock 1 - the first of a series of seven locks on the Murray in South Australia (William Randell Lock – named in honour of the pioneer of river navigation in the 1800's) was completed in 1922. At the time Blanchetown was an important riverbank terminal where goods were offloaded from paddlesteamers to be cleared through the local Customs House. The next town is Swan Reach and then Mannum. The historic South Australian town of Mannum is situated on the broad reaches of the Lower Murray about an hour east of Adelaide. The town overlooks a wide section of the river and is built around Mary Ann Reserve. The Manum Wharf is a popular calling place for cruising boats including the Murray Princess which stops here three times a week. We continue to Goolwa where the Murray River finally enters the Southern Ocean. Goolwa is an aboriginal word meaning elbow and is situated on the bend in the Murray River, opposite Hindmarsh Island. We park at the Goolwa Wharf and board the “Spirit of the Coorong” for a luncheon cruise. The cruise takes us through the Goolwa Barrage, one of 5 constructed in the 1930s to separate the sea water from the fresh water of the river. From here the river mouth and the entrance to the Coorong are 4kms further on and, depending on the tide, can be freely accessed. Lunch is served on board and a full commentary on the history of this very interesting area, including the making of the film "Storm Boy," is given by the ship's Captain.
After our cruise we transfer to Victor Harbor for our overnight stay at the McCracken Country Club. (Meal inclusions: Breakfast & dinner in the motel/lunch cruise)
McCracken Country Club, Victor Harbor 08 85510200 – 1 night
Day 8 (B): Heading Home (Sunday 21 June, 2020)
We travelled nearly the entire length of the Murray River. Today after an early breakfast we head home. (Meal inclusions: breakfast in the motel)
All itineraries are subject to change due to occasional restrictions in opening times/days of some attractions, e.g. churches, wineries etc. We cannot be held responsible for any changes due to closures, inclement weather etc.