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Six things to do in the Murray River region this winter

River Deck Cafe - Credit Destination NSW

22 Apr. 2021

Take a break and soak up glorious sunny days along the Murray River. Surrounded by untouched nature, our river towns deliver a surprising array of sights and experiences. Escape the grey skies and explore The Murray this winter.

1. Spend Time in Nature

Fresh air, open skies and mighty forests are waiting to be explored. On both sides of the river, you can enjoy national, state and regional parks, as well as riverside tracks. Lace up your walking shoes and hit the trail.

Take a stroll along the Redgum Statue Walk on the banks of the Murray in Koondrook and Barham. Redgum statues of pioneering men and women of the district, along with iconic wildlife, have been created by chainsaw carvers Kevin Guilders and Angela Polglaze.

A little further south towards Cohuna is Gunbower Island, Australia’s largest inland island, and home to redgum and black box forests teeming with native birds, mammals and reptiles. It’s a hiker’s delight, with plenty of bush tracks to choose from.

For ancient and modern history, it’s hard to go past the Barmah National Park. Alongside the adjoining Millewa Forest, it’s the largest River Redgum forest in the world. A stop off at the Heritage and Education Centre in Nathalia is the perfect entrée to this area’s important colonial and ancient Indigenous history. While there, take a cruise and experience the amazing Barmah Choke for yourself.

North of Echuca on the road to Deniliquin is the exceptional Murray Valley Regional Park. The park is popular with bushwalkers, mountain bikers and campers, with marked walking tracks and picnic spots. Check out the Gulpa Creek walk and enjoy lunch at the Edward River Bridge, Five Mile or Ski Beach picnic areas.

Also a favourite for campers, hikers and bush bashers in the Woomargama National Park, between Albury and Holbrook. Join up with the historic Hume and Hovell Walking Track, or create your own history. Note that camping in NSW national parks now requires a booking.

2. Get cosy in art galleries and museums

Stay warm inside exploring our art galleries and museums. Get a dose of high-quality local and touring exhibitions, workshops and talks at the impressive MAMA – Murray Art Museum Albury.

Journey downstream to Swan Hill where the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery showcases one of Australia's most comprehensive collections of indigenous art. Permanent displays and a program of touring exhibitions and events keeps art lovers happy all year round.

The lovely Peppin Heritage Centre in Deniliquin gives visitors a taste of early European settlement in the region. A variety of exhibitions detail the history of the area, with photos, fashion, objects and a recreated classroom sure to surprise the whole family.

North of Albury, the Jindera Pioneer Museum also focusses on early settler life, but turns its eye to the surprising story of the German community that relocated here from Adelaide in the 1860s.

3. Follow the sun

Even in the depths of winter, The Murray is famous for its mild weather and glorious sunshine. In fact, we boast more sunny days than the Gold Coast! Stunning sunrises and sunsets can be found throughout the region, with rivers, lakes and forests glowing in vibrant reds and oranges.

You’ve never really seen a sunset until you’ve been to Mungo National Park, north-east of Mildura. The other-worldly landscape and sacred sites take on a mystical appearance as the sun sinks behind lunar-like sand dunes.

The name says it all: Murray-Sunset National Park draws visitors from around the world for its stunning scenery. Just south of Mildura, Murray-Sunset is home to the Pink Lakes – once the location of a thriving salt-harvesting industry. Bring your camera to capture the vibrant, changing colours of sunset.

While you’re in the area, another richly-coloured sunset can be seen in the small town of Red Cliffs. Again, the name is a bit of a giveaway: as the sun sets, the red earth of the riverside cliffs takes on a glowing deep amber hue. The 70-metre cliffs are best seen from the Red Cliffs Scenic Reserve, a short drive out of town.

4. Get cruising on the Murray River

The Murray is the third longest navigable river in the world, so a visit wouldn't be complete without a cruise. A great way to experience the river and get a taste of the region’s colonial past is by taking a trip on a paddlesteamer.

Echuca is the famed heart of paddlesteamer country, with several boats plying the river, offering passengers terrific views and expert commentary about the river’s history. The PS Emmylou offers sightseeing tours, as well as lunch, dinner and even overnight tours. And, yes, it is named after country music legend Emmylou Harris!

Further downstream, winter visitors can get their paddlesteamer fix in Swan Hill aboard the PS Pyap, built in 1896, or aboard the PS Melbourne in Mildura.

If all of this leaves you with a taste for more cruising, hire your own houseboat and experience the river, riverside towns and golf courses, and the glorious natural surrounds of the Murray at your own pace.

5. Dine in a hatted restaurant

Right along the epic length of The Murray, there’s the chance to savour high-quality, fresh local produce. Our cafes and restaurants are famous for offering generous serves of delicious food sourced from nearby farms and producers.

If you want to amp up your dining experience, we also boast venues that take fine dining seriously. Try the modern European meals at Miss Amelie, housed in the historic train station in Wodonga, or cross the river and soak in the minimalist design and amazing food at Bistro Selle in Albury. For excellent food that also celebrates its surrounds, head for lunch or dinner at the River Deck in South Albury. The bright, bold flavours and huge windows onto river views makes for a memorable experience.

Up the other end of the river, it was Stefano de Pieri who got the Murray River dining scene going decades ago in Mildura. His Stefano’s Cantina continues to impress, and remains a destination in itself. Nearby, Province by Matt DeAngelo also pays homage to the best local ingredients in its innovative take on classic Italian food.

6. Meet the Makers

After sampling their produce, it’s only right that you should chat to the locals who make it all happen. There are plenty of direct cellar door and farm gate opportunities along The Murray. The Murray Farm Gate Trail is ideal for foodies with ample time and appetites. If you can’t spare a few food-filled days travelling the region, the easiest option is to visit one of our regional farmers’ markets.

Stop by at a local Visitor Information Centre, as there’s probably a market nearby on almost every weekend of the year. A couple of good ones to start with are the Albury Wodonga Farmers’ Market (every Saturday morning), Yarrawonga Farmers and Craft Market (fourth Sunday of every month) and the Sunraysia Farmers' Market in Mildura (first and third Saturdays of the month).

The vibrant Koondrook Barham Farmers’ Market is also a must see, taking place riverside in Koondrook on the third Sunday of each month.