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There's a little slice of Mexico in the middle of Australia

Sun Country on the Murray River has more than a few surprises in store.


By Jessica Wilkinson
Published: June 22, 2017

Nestled just a few hours north of Melbourne in Strathmerton (part of Sun Country on the Murray River), is a little piece of Mexico. It comes not in the form of sombreros and tequila (although there are frozen margaritas on tap), but as a stunning acreage of cacti – aptly named Cactus Country.

Cactus Country, Strathmerton, Victoria

Swiftly labelled Instagram heaven, the ten acres of over 10,000 different cacti and succulents is a prickly playground. Planted not only for their looks, the cacti are used to make everything from jam to cake by garden owners Jim and Julie Hall who started the farm as a hobby, supplemented by zucchini and squash farming. 

Cactus Country, Strathmerton, Victoria

Cactus Country is only one of the destinations in Sun Country. In the list of must do's on this regional road-trip, start with high tea at Café 3641. 

 

Café 3641: Have your cake and eat it too

Word on the street is that the high tea at café 3641 is out of this world. Tea, scones, cakes – you name it, they've got it made to perfection. Held only once a month, the sell-out high tea attracts people from all over the world. Café 3641 boasts great coffee and hand-made food each day using locally sourced and seasonal products. If high tea isn't your thing, the chocolate ganache cake and lemon meringue pie have reputations that precede them. For foodies, continue your food experience with the Farm Gate Trail.

 

The Farm Gate Trail: choose your own adventure

For those who don't want to be pinned down by the rules, the Farm Gate Trail is a self-guided tour of the best places to eat and drink along the Murray River. Made up of a co-operative group of producers who offer their product direct from the farm, it's a great way to see local farms, orchards and wineries in action and meet the people behind the produce. A few of the contributing producers are;

Aintree Organic & Apiary: for almonds, honey, olives and vegetables
Byramine Homestead Brewery & Cider House: for a unique range of beer, cider and wines grown and brewed on site
Cobrawonga Estate & Nursery: for handpicked bush-tucker spices, rubs, teas, jams and homemade treats
Kensal Estate Wines: for boutique wines; an array of reds, whites, ciders and their secret 1936 pedro ximenez
Manto Produce: for fresh peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, apples, pears and nashi. 

Sun Country on Instagram

Once you've eaten your fill, cruise the Murray River's secret waterways

It's not just amazing food on offer in Sun Country – the wildlife, lakes and inland beaches are all a sight to behold.

Lakes
Sun Country is full of hidden lakes and inlets that snake through the riverbanks. Lake Mulwala is an ideal spot for relaxing by the water or taking a few snaps of the ghostly river red gums that line the shore. For the more adventurous, try water-skiing or kayaking. You can hire equipment or brush up on your skills with a few lessons. A cruise on Lake Mulwala will take you through the flooded red gums which provide nesting sites for a variety of fish and birdlife. They attract dedicated fishing fanatics year round in pursuit of the elusive Murray Cod. Also try a cruise along the Barmah Lakes and the narrows on the Murray River with Kingfisher Cruises

Inland beaches
The inland beaches dotted amongst the greenery are another great photo opportunity, so get your cameras ready. Set beneath the towering red gums, these little beaches are beautifully tranquil and the perfect spot to soak up some peace and quiet while you listen to the birds around you. Thompson's Beach, Big Toms Beach, Dead River Beach, Scott's Beach and Dufties Beach are all worth a peek. Keep an eye out for kangaroos and emu's in the bushland. 

 

Camping, glamping and more

To top it all off, Wakiti Creek Resort offers a glamping experience in teepees that is one for the bucket list. Described as a hidden oasis, Wakiti Creek Resort is a picturesque, secluded holiday park surrounded by acres of beautiful natural bushland on the banks of the Wakiti Creek. You can choose to stay in cabins or powered/unpowered campsites if you BYO tent or stay in one of the resorts’ five teepees. Each teepee has a raised wooden floor, lighting, mattresses to sleep 6 and a large undercover barbeque rotunda with tables, chairs, barbeques, lighting, power, sink, bench top, microwave, toaster and kettle.

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