Pack up the car! This itinerary can be followed in either direction or in shorter stages to suit your time and budget.
Start your road trip in Albury Wodonga. You can hire bikes at the Wodonga Visitor Information centre or from Cycle Station at the Albury Railway precinct and pedal along the river tracks or through Wodonga’s Willow Park. Young kids will love the super playground at Belvoir Park. A trip out to Lake Hume is a must: walk or cycle across the dam wall for sensational views, or enjoy swimming and watersports. Another highlight is the three-hour paddle by canoe or kayak from Mungabareena Reserve to Noreuil Park. Kidspace, at the Albury Art Gallery, features interactive arts and crafts opportunities for young ones.
You can break your trip west at historic Corowa, which has some good walking and cycling trails along the river. At Yarrawong Mulwala you’re spoiled for choice with watersports on Lake Mulwala where you can go boating, canoeing, waterskiing and fishing for Murray cod. Or just head to the foreshore where there’s a waterslide, splash park and skate park. The MV Paradise Queen cruises on the lake most days. A fun way to get around on dry land is on the four-wheel Yarra Pedal Cars. At Glenarron Farm, a short way inland at Katunga, the kids can meet and feed the farm animals and even milk a Jersey cow.
- Albury – Yarrawonga: 95km, 1 hour
Head east to Cobram Barooga for a swim at Thompsons Beach, Australia’s largest inland beach, and a bite at the yummy Beach Café. A short drive west at Strathmerton is Cactus Country, home to thousands of the prickly plants. Worth a stop in Nathalia is the Barmah Forest Heritage and Education Centre, where you can learn about the environment and history of the nearby river red gum forests.
Next stop is Echuca, guaranteed to get kids of all ages excited, starting with the historic port area – check out Sharp’s Magic Movie House & Penny Arcade or stroll through the fascinating Discovery Centre and learn about river life in the 19th-century. Round off your visit with a cruise on one of the Murray’s historic paddlesteamers.
Across the river in Moama, Adventure Play Park has swings, bridges and flying foxes, while Squiggles Play Centre has indoor fun for kids and an outdoor water park. Echuca is also a great place to hire boats, canoes or a houseboat, and to learn how to waterski.
In the morning, take a detour up to Barmah National Park for an ecocruise among the River red gums with Kingfisher Cruises.
- Yarrawonga – Cobram: 36km, 26 minutes
- Cobram – Echuca: 111km, 1 hour 20 minutes
On the trip along the Murray Valley Hwy to Swan Hill, be sure to detour to Gunbower Island (from Cohuna, Gunbower or Koondrook), where you can drive, walk or bike among the magnificent River red gums and picnic or swim from the sandy beaches.
One of the great Murray family attractions is Swan Hill’s Pioneer Settlement, a faithful recreation of a 19th-century port town on the banks of the Marraboor (Little Murray) River. Join the period-costumed characters in a vintage car, horsedrawn carriage or cruise on the paddlesteamer Pyap. In the evening there’s a spectacular sound-and-light show.
- Echuca-Swan Hill: 155km, 1¾ hours
Mildura really turns it on for kids and families. Apart from swimming at the popular and patrolled Apex River Beach or Mildura Waves pool complex, there are paddlesteamer cruises, indoor go-karting, minigolf and the crazy garden maze at Woodsies Gem Shop. Younger kids will love the Fun Jungle, where there are play areas for babies and toddlers.
A sunset paddle on the river or at Kings Billabong, or sandboarding on the Perry Sandhills at Wentworth are great ways to round out your tour of the Murray.
- Swan Hill – Mildura: 222km, 2½ hours