The romance of the river is alive and well in Australia’s paddlesteamer capital, where the twin towns of Echuca Moama ooze a rich history. But this is no museum piece – with so many sights, activities and major events, the Echuca Moama region radiates an energy and feelgood factor that keeps visitors coming back year after year.
The town was put on the map by legendary ex-convict Henry Hopwood, who started up a river punt and small hotel in 1853 to take advantage of the increasing cross-river traffic.
When paddlesteamers began plying the Murray from 1860, Echuca transformed into the busiest and most prosperous port town on the Murray. Today the nostalgic whistle is still a familiar sound; the wharf is home to the world’s largest fleet of operating riverboats. Cruises run throughout the day aboard 6 beautifully restored steamers, and overnight cruises are also available.
Echuca’s other star attraction is the recently opened Port of Echuca Discovery Centre where you can step back in time to 1860 and visit an authentic steam port, explore the revitalised wharf, and watch the steam-driven saw mill in operation.
Echuca Moama is far from living in the past though. The lively spirit can be experienced in major events and festivals such as the world’s biggest waterski event, the Southern 80 (February), and the Winter Blues Festival (July).
Riverside fine-dining restaurants, chic wine bars, al fresco cafes, country-style bakeries and friendly pubs mean visitors are spoilt for gastronomic choice. Wine touring is also popular, with a dozen or so cellar doors in the region.
With three great rivers – Murray, Goulburn and Campaspe – converging here, fishing, boating, swimming, camping, biking and bushwalking are naturally big attractions, and nights spent relaxing on a houseboat is sheer bliss.
For more information on accommodation, attractions and things to do and see in Echuca Moama, visit www.echucamoama.com