Road trip along the mighty Murray River
Reconnect with nature along the banks of the mighty Murray River.
The Murray River is Australia’s longest single river, running across three states and bringing lush green landscapes to its surrounds.
Discover friendly country towns, rugged nature and beautiful food and wine as you wind your way through Victoria and South Australia along the Murray River. You can also explore this dynamic region on foot on the four-day Murray River Walk.
What to expect
- Sip wine at quaint cellar doors in Victoria and South Australia
- Visit a garden covered in 4,000 species of cacti
- Explore the otherworldly landscapes of Mungo National Park
- Time: 9 days
- Distance: 1,213 kilometres (753 miles)
- Transport: car
- Nearest major city: Melbourne and Adelaide
- Price: $$
Day 1: Melbourne to Yarrawonga
Grab a coffee for the road and drive just over three hours to The Sebel Yarrawonga, a part of Silverwoods Golf and Lifestyle Retreat. This boutique hotel, perched on the edge of Lake Mulwala, offers the chance to settle into the leisurely pace of regional Victoria. Play a relaxed round of golf, or unwind in the infinity pool. A short drive will bring you to some of the Murray’s most charming wineries, like Campbells Wines, which has been in operation for more than 140 years. Don’t miss a visit to the renowned Byramine Homestead & Brewery, where you can not only sample a selection of beer and cider but also have a lunch of seasonal produce and learn about the property’s fascinating pioneering history.
After a day of relaxation, spend the night at The Sebel.
Day 2: Yarrawonga to Echuca
Soak up the stunning scenery of Yarrawonga before hopping in the car for the one-hour drive to Echuca. Along the way, be sure to stop at Cactus Country, a massive garden that’s been filled with more than 4,000 species of cacti and succulents. The result is a perfectly photogenic oasis of prickly plants. Snap a few photos before sitting down for a tasty plate of Mexican food with a side of cactus cake, cactus ice-cream or cactus cider – all made from the property’s cacti.
If you’re ready for some outdoor adventure, continue to Barmah National Park. There are several walking tracks here that will take you into the Barmah forest, through Red River Gum trees and past a number of Aboriginal oven (cooking) mounds. Alternatively, explore the forest on horseback with Murray River Horse Trails.
Finish the day in Echuca, a country town nestled on the banks of the Mighty Murray.
If you can extend your trip for a few days, do it in style aboard the PS Emmylou, the only wood-fired paddlesteamer offering regular river cruising with all the comforts you could want. Park your car for a few days and experience the leisure of the Murray River with a three or four-night cruise, which includes riverbank dinners and a small boat eco-cruise.
Day 3: Echuca to Swan Hill
Say goodbye to Echuca and set your sights on Swan Hill. It’s about a two-hour drive, but be sure to take your time as you weave alongside rivers and lakes.
After you arrive in Swan Hill, explore the nearby Pioneer Settlement. Set on three hectares (7.4 acres) on the banks of the Little Murray River, the Pioneer Settlement tells the history of the Murray River with horse-drawn vehicles, blacksmiths, print shops and staff dressed the part in costumes of the period. Alternatively, unwind with a glass of local wine or beer. The Federal Hotel, known as ‘The Fed’ to locals, is sure to offer a warm welcome with a side of cold beer, while the cellar door at Andrew Peace Wines serves up bold wines from the rich soil of the Murray River.
Day 4: Swan Hill to Mildura
Rise early to drive 2.5 hours to Mildura, a town of rugged nature and quiet charm. If you’re a photography enthusiast, make a detour to Lake Tyrrell, a 120,000-year-old lake with a unique salt formation on the surface, which creates incredible reflections.
Grab lunch at Nash Lane after arriving into Mildura. Then, cross the river into New South Wales to visit the Perry Sandhills – ever-shifting golden dunes perfect for a picnic or a bit of adventure. Sandboards can be rented from Intersport Mildura. After you’ve surfed down the dunes, quench your thirst at Mildura Brewery.
At sunset, head to Red Cliffs Lookout, where you’ll find beautiful auburn cliffs carved by the Murray River. Spend the next two nights in the apartment-style accommodation at Sunraysia Resort.
Day 5: Mungo National Park
Today, explore one of Australia’s most distinct landscapes. With weathered cliffs and vast desert, Mungo National Park can appear more like Mars than the outback of New South Wales. Take a day tour with Mungo Guided Tours to wander through the ancient and otherworldly scene. Don’t miss the chance to take a few photos of the Walls of China, Mungo’s most remarkable rock formation.
If you have a few extra days, don’t miss the four-day desert adventure with Echidna Walkabout Tours. You’ll discover the animals of the Aussie outback, explore Lake Mungo and climb rolling dunes with jaw-dropping views.
Day 6: Mildura to Renmark
It’s time to cross state borders as you drive 1.5 hours from Victoria’s Mildura to Renmark in South Australia. Here you’ll find world-class golf courses, panoramic views and homesteads oozing with charm. Get active with a round of golf at Loxton Golf Club, about thirty minutes outside of town. Or, enjoy a brew with a view at Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery, then take a guided tour of the century-old Twenty Third Street Distillery. If you'd rather enjoy an afternoon immersed in nature, rent a kayak and explore the tranquil riverbanks, or visit Australia's largest rose garden.
Day 7: Renmark to Murray Bridge
Continue your journey along the Murray with a 40-minute drive to Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre. It's an ideal place to enjoy some outstanding wine, food and natural surrounds.
Another 40-minute drive will bring you to Caudo Vineyard, a cellar door with prime position on the banks of the river.
Next, drive about two hours to Murray Bridge. Check into The Cube Murray River, a modern yet rustic floating pod complete with a lounge room and a covered deck. Take advantage of the two-person kayak and paddle the serene water surrounds.
If there’s time, visit the nearby Monarto Safari Park, the largest open-range zoo in the world. Check out the selection of animal experiences, which allow you to get up close with cheetahs, meerkats, giraffes, rhinos and more.
For dinner, indulge in a sunset meal on the riverbank.
Day 8: Murray Bridge to Goolwa
Today, stop by the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, where you’ll find three exhibition spaces showcasing contemporary craft and artworks. Then, drive about an hour to Goolwa, an old river port where the Murray River meets the sea.
Soak up the sun and sand at Goolwa Beach, or visit the nearby Coorong National Park. Here, you'll find a 130-kilometre stretch of saltwater lagoons and sweeping sand dunes. Explore the area with the one-hour Lakes Nature Walk Trail loop or the Ngrugie Ngoppun Walk.
Spend the night at The Admiral Riverside, a luxury stay on the banks of the river.
Day 9: Goolwa to Adelaide
Embark on your final day of driving as you head to South Australia’s capital of Adelaide. You can reach Adelaide in just over an hour, but be sure to make a few stops along the way.
The heritage town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills is known for its local produce and cool-climate wines. It’s also Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. Peruse the selection of sweets and smallgoods from the likes of Chocolate @ No 5 and Udder Delights Cheese Cellar. Visit the Hive Door at Buzz Honey to taste the flavours of local honey, or sip wines and spirits at Hahndorf Hill Winery, The Lane Vineyard and Ambleside Distillers.
Arrive into Adelaide in the evening and head to dinner at Press Food & Wine. From here, take your Australian adventure in any direction; head south to Kangaroo Island, west to the Eyre Peninsula or take a flight east to one of Australia’s coastal cities.