The Murray. It isn’t just any ordinary river.
As most would know, it’s the longest river in Australia, making it the ultimate aquatic playground. Passing through three states – NSW, VIC, and SA – the Murray boasts vast stretches of wonderful waterways, including lakes and locks.
And 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.
Looking to navigate this iconic part of the country? Strap in as we present this inspiring guide to Australia’s greatest waterway.
Visit any of its charm-filled, heritage-rich locations and you’ll notice they evoke an instant feeling of relaxation. There’s a certain power to the Murray, and it’s gripping. You’ll also witness some of the best sunsets imaginable.
Yep! Myriad locations along the Murray suit all manner of aquatic adventures: canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and jet-skiing among them.
Fishing along the Murray is another popular activity, and it can be hugely rewarding. Angle for Murray cod, Australia's largest freshwater fish and the signature species in these waters. Bream, catfish, perch, and redfin are among other popular varieties.
The Murray supports a wide assortment of sandy beaches. A prime spot is Tocumwal, NSW, which boasts 20-plus golden beaches within just five minutes of its centre. Additionally, there are dozens of sandy patches within easy reach of the NSW/VIC twin locations of Yarrawonga-Mulwala and Echuca-Moama, among other spots.
However, to best acquaint yourself with the might of the Murray, take a paddlesteamer or paddleboat ride. The first paddlesteamer, the PS Mary Ann, was launched near Mannum, SA in 1853. For decades after, the Murray was an important trade route and virtual water highway as steamers floated up and down its stretches.
Recreate the past by hopping on board. Popular departure points for paddlesteamer rides along the Murray include:
While the Murray hogs the spotlight, the wider region is home to other snaking waterways. Its main ‘feeding’ rivers are the Darling and Murrumbidgee rivers, while the Edward is an anabranch of the Murray. On the banks of the Edward River is the delightful NSW 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 and suit endless aquatic adventures. Many are within easy reach of key towns, too. Notable lakes include:
There are wine regions galore within the Murray region. Try these…
The Murray Darling is Australia’s second-largest wine region and encompasses vineyards in and around Mildura, VIC. Special mention goes to Trentham Estate.
Rutherglen, VIC is a glorious area bounding with boutique wineries – rich reds steal the spotlight – and Swan Hill, VIC has emerged as a key region. Echuca-Moama is another grape-growing area warranting attention: head to Morrison's Riverview Winery & Restaurant for pleasant views.
In SA, 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.
A handful of top-notch breweries are planted within these parts, including:
Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery, near Renmark, SA: Quality brews and outstanding riverside views. The historical rustic shed is equally inviting if the rain is visiting, too.
Mildura Brewery, VIC: One of Australia’s first microbreweries; now with new owners. Housed in an old theatre, boasts an extensive range.
Bandicoot Brewing, Echuca, VIC: A relative newcomer with a menu that offers ample variety and interest.
Byramine Homestead & Brewery, Yarrawonga, VIC: Combine ales with past tales. Relaxing outdoor setting. Bring your appetite and order the ploughman's lunch.
Cheeky Peak Brewery, Wodonga, VIC: Authentic microbrewery experience. Excellent beers across many varieties.
Or for the 'harder stuff', head to Twenty Third Street Distillery in Renmark for top-shelf liquor and a great backstory.
Realistically you could pick countless stretches of riverside turf and a wander would reward. However, planting your feet along the following are highly recommended…
Barmah National Park east of Echuca, VIC and neighbouring Murray Valley National Park (Millewa forest) on the NSW side 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 SA teems with all sorts of landscapes and wildlife.
The Australian Inland Botanic Gardens near Mildura, VIC are full of botanical beauty, and in SA Gluepot Reserve near Waikerie is a bird watcher’s paradise.
The 5km Renmark riverfront interpretive walk in SA is another winning option, while a heritage walking tour around Albury, NSW has many highlights, too. Mildura, VIC explodes with designated walking trails.
There are loads of them! Here are some worth keeping in mind:
With so much river frontage to work with – and so many gorgeous destinations to choose from – the options are truly endless. We’ve pulled out a few of many, many highlights:
Lake Mulwala, Mulwala, NSW: A sensational spot for capturing a sunset or sunrise, particularly when silhouetting its iconic red gums.
Big Bend, near Blanchetown, SA: Frame imposing colourful limestone cliffs that make up the Murray’s longest single bend.
Heading's Cliff Lookout, near Renmark, SA: More towering cliffs capable of delivering postcard worthy views.
Murray Cliffs Lookout, near Mildura, VIC: Keep those colourful cliffs coming!
Albury railway station, NSW: Glorious historical Victorian building. One of several heritage structures in Albury worth time in front of the lens.
Water tower, Wodonga, VIC: Illuminated at night making for colourful snaps.
Art deco buildings, Mildura, VIC: The city has several examples of this eye-catching architectural style.
Contrasting with the abundance of water is 300ha plus of incredible sand dunes that make for fascinating exploration. Just minutes from Wentworth in NSW, the Perry Sandhills are continuously shifting dunes steeped in history and which are a favoured background for films and TV programs. This attraction is also within easy reach of Mildura.
Further inland 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.
Local history museums are scattered all around and reveal absorbing snippets of info about the region’s past. Art galleries abound, too.
Special focus is on the Albury-Wodonga region. Arts Space Wodonga has a diverse collection of works and the Albury LibraryMuseum and the Murray Art Museum Albury will brighten the mood on a gloomy day.
Murray Bridge Regional Gallery in SA warrants a mention, 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 NSW unearths a compelling piece of Australia’s past.
Port of Echuca Discovery Centre in VIC is among the top picks. It offers a fascinating glimpse into a time when the Murray was bustling with paddlesteamers.
The Pioneer Settlement in Swan Hill, VIC wonderfully recreates the past with its fine collection of classic buildings, while SA’s The Village – Historic Loxton is similarly impressive.
Old Wentworth Gaol, NSW explodes with captivating yarns, while Olivewood Historic Homestead and Museum in Renmark, SA retraces a momentous time in the Murray’s post-European past.
With BIG4! We have ample Murray River accommodation in NSW, VIC, and SA, occupying positions in most of the region’s key locations.
BIG4 parks in the Murray region: NSW
BIG4 parks in the Murray region: VIC
BIG4 parks in the Riverland region: SA
BIG4 parks in the Murraylands region: SA