Visit any of The Murray River Region’s charm-filled, heritage-rich locations and you’ll notice they evoke an instant feeling of relaxation. It’s the ultimate aquatic playground.
The Murray isn’t just any ordinary river. At 2500 kilometres (1553 miles), it’s the longest river in Australia, and the third-longest navigable river in the world behind the Amazon and the Nile. Passing through three states – New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia – the Murray boasts vast stretches of wonderful waterways, including lakes and locks.
Dotted along its seemingly never-ending stretches is a wealth of inviting historical towns and thriving cities, first-rate wine regions and golf courses, forests, and endless surprises. If you're looking to navigate this iconic part of the country, you'll love this inspiring guide to Australia’s greatest waterway.
- Take a historic paddlesteamer or paddleboat ride while learning about the river’s past as a trade route and water highway.
- Sample some of the best beer and wine in the country at the local wineries and breweries.
- See a spectacular sunset at one of the region’s many lakes or river viewpoints.
How to get there
There are a few cities and towns that act as gateways to the Murray River. Albury is the biggest, and receives multiple daily flights from Sydney and Melbourne. Mildura is another popular gateway, which is accessible by flight from Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide.
It’s possible to access the Murray River via train. Express services run between Sydney and Melbourne, stopping at Albury-Wodonga on the way. The travel time is similar to driving from these major cities.
Driving is one of the most popular ways to get to the Murray River. From Melbourne, the closest point is Echuca which is just under 3 hours drive away. From Adelaide you can drive to Mildura in 4.5 hours, and from Sydney it takes a little over 5.5 hours to drive to Albury.
Top things to do in the Murray River region
Have some water-based fun
The Murray River is ideal for aquatic adventures like canoeing, kayaking, boating, and waterskiing. Fishing along the Murray River is another popular activity. Angle for Murray cod, bream, catfish, perch, and redfin. The Murray River also supports a wide assortment of sandy beaches like Tocumwal, New South Wales, which boasts 20-plus golden beaches within just five minutes of its centre. Additionally, there are dozens of sandy patches within easy reach of Yarrawonga-Mulwala and Echuca-Moama, among other spots.
Explore the nearby rivers, lakes, and dunes
While the Murray River hogs the spotlight, the wider region is home to other snaking waterways. On the banks of the Edward River is the delightful town of Deniliquin, which is an excellent launch point for more water fun. Yet the town is best known for its annual ute muster in late September. A plethora of lakes are sprinkled on either side of the Murray’s banks, like Lake Mulwala in New South Wales and Lake Boga in Victoria. Contrasting with the abundance of water in the Murray region is over 300 hectares (741 acres) of incredible sand dunes, including the continuously shifting Perry Sandhills.
Visit a local winery
The Murray-Darling basin is Australia’s second-largest wine region and encompasses vineyards in and around Mildura, Victoria. A special mention goes to Trentham Estate. Rutherglen, Victoria is an area bounding with boutique wineries – rich reds steal the spotlight – and Swan Hill, Victoria has emerged as a key region. Echuca-Moama is another grape-growing area warranting attention: head to Morrisons Riverview Winery for pleasant views. In South Australia, the Riverland wine region is Australia’s largest wine producing area. Banrock Station Wine & Wetland Centre between Blanchetown and Loxton is one of the region’s standouts.
Visit a local brewery
A handful of top-notch breweries are planted within these parts. Head to Woolshed Brewery near South Australia's Renmark for quality brews and riverside views. Mildura Brewery in Victoria is one of Australia's finest microbreweries, while Byramine Homestead & Brewery in Yarrawonga combines several varieties of beer with a hearty menu. Bring your appetite and order the ploughman's lunch. Other breweries worth a mention include Bandicoot Brewing in Echuca and Cheeky Peak Brewery in Wodonga.
Go for a stroll
Barmah National Park east of Echuca, Victoria and neighbouring Murray Valley National Park combine to form the world’s largest river red gum forest. Naturally, walking tracks abound. West of Echuca, Gunbower National Park reveals internationally recognised wetlands and abundant bird life, while Murray River National Park in South Australia teems with all sorts of landscapes and wildlife. The five kilometre (3.1 mile) Renmark riverfront interpretive walk in South Australia is another winning option, while a heritage walking tour around Albury, New South Wales has many highlights, too. Mildura, Victoria explodes with designated walking trails. The Australian Inland Botanic Gardens near Mildura are full of botanical beauty, and in South Australia, Gluepot Reserve near Waikerie is a bird watcher’s paradise.
Ruston’s Roses in Renmark, South Australia is Australia’s largest rose garden. The site boasts a whopping 50,000 rose bushes showcasing nearly 4000 varieties, so it’s fair to say that colour blooms brightly at this popular attraction. These numbers help Ruston’s to claim the title of the National Rose Collection of Australia. In neighbouring Loxton, the rose revelry continues. 1100 roses are on display at Hentschke Memorial Rose Garden and Loxton Pioneer Memorial Garden.
Take a swing at some golf courses
Australia has plenty of great golf courses, and the Murray region also has its fair share. The Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club in Yarrawonga, New South Wales is Australia’s largest public access golf course with 45 holes. Cobram Barooga Golf Club in Cobram, New South Wales has two championship-standard, contrasting courses. In Victoria, head to Murray Downs Golf Resort in Swan Hill for its exceptional layout and critically acclaimed course. Head to Loxton Golf Club in South Australia to play on one of the state's finest courses.
Get your camera out
With so much river frontage to work with – and so many gorgeous destinations to choose from – options for photography are truly endless. Head to Lake Mulwala in New South Wales for sensational sunrises and sunsets. For a historical setting, check out the Albury railway station. Next, visit South Australia for highlights such as Big Bend and Heading's Cliff Lookout, which offer imposing limestone cliffs and spectacular views. In Victoria, take in the colourful cliffs at the Murray Cliffs Lookout in Mildura, where you can also find unique art deco buildings for photographing.
Wander through galleries and museums
Local history museums and art galleries are scattered around the region and offer insight and intrigue. In the Albury-Wodonga region, visit Arts Space Wodonga with its diverse collection of works. The Murray Bridge Regional Gallery in South Australia showcases art from the region, while the Mildura Arts Centre houses various art galleries, a modern theatre, and the grand Rio Vista historic house. Elsewhere, the Corowa Federation Museum in New South Wales unearths a compelling piece of Australia’s past. In the Goulburn Valley, the city of Shepparton has one of the quirkiest art exhibitions going around. The city is dotted with colourful fibreglass cows that form part of Shepparton Mooving Art, a tribute to the region’s rich dairy farming influence.
Learn about the Murray’s history
Port of Echuca Discovery Centre in Victoria is among the top picks for learning about the Murray River. It offers a fascinating glimpse into a time when the river was bustling with paddlesteamers. The Pioneer Settlement in Swan Hill, Victoria wonderfully recreates the past with its fine collection of classic buildings, while South Australia’s The Village – Historic Loxton is similarly impressive. The Old Wentworth Gaol in Wentworth, New South Wales explodes with captivating yarns, while Olivewood Historic Homestead and Museum in Renmark, South Australia retraces a momentous time in the Murray region’s post-European past.
Make your trip happen