Pioneer Settlement, Swan Hill. Image credit: Swan Hill Rural City
Mix and match from this 8-day itinerary to explore the region’s proud heritage.
Day 1 - 2
Start your journey in the Albury Wodonga region, where European explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell crossed the river in 1824 on an expedition to find a way between Sydney and Bass Strait; you can still see a tree marked by the explorers in Albury’s Hovell Tree Park.
Discover Albury’s fascinating heritage on a self-guided walking tour of central Albury’s historic landmarks: download the free app from Visit Albury Wodonga.
Albury Wodonga also had a significant role in post-war Australia, as it was near here that Australia’s largest migrant centre was established, becoming the first ‘Aussie home’ to over 300,000 migrants from more than 50 countries. At Bonegilla Migrant Experience Heritage Park, guides will take you through this fascinating era of multicultural Australia.
Also worth a visit is the Army Museum Bandiana, the largest and most diverse military museum in Australia.
Take time to head 60km north of Albury to explore the unique Holbrook Submarine Museum, which features HMAS Otway, a control room, a working periscope and 3D hologram experience of tales of life in a submarine. On the return journey, take a guided tour through the fascinating Jindera Pioneer Museum.
Driving west, stop in at the historic town of Howlong and walk the ‘historic circuit’ before moving on to Corowa, which played a unique part in Australia’s Federation. Visit the Federation Museum for the full story. Across the river, Rutherglen is renowned for its award-winning wineries and has some interesting goldrush-era architecture.
Albury – Holbrook: 60km, 40 minutes
Albury – Corowa: 57km, 45 minutes
Yarrawonga Mulwala is a popular tourist and watersports destination on Lake Mulwala, but also has an interesting history. Nearby Byramine Homestead was built in 1842 by explorer Hamilton Hume for his sister-in-law Elizabeth and brings to life those tough pioneering days, while the Yarrawonga Mulwala Pioneer Museum features an extensive exhibition of early pioneer days.
If you’re interested in old cars and planes, stop at Tocumwal to visit the collection of classic cars, trucks and farm vehicles at Chrysties Museum, or fly through to the Tocumwal Aerodrome Museum, where during WWII, was the site was the largest aerodrome in the southern hemisphere.
Detour north of Echuca through stunning pastoral land to Deniliquin, where you can explore the beautiful small town and walk the easy ‘beach to beach’ riverside path. Continue back to the Murray on the backroads heritage drive to Gunbower Island, Australia’s largest inland island and home to a magnificent river red gum forest, at Koondrook-Barham.
Visit the 1889 Arbuthnot sawmill, which is still operating today, and take the interesting River Red Gum Statue walk. From here take the heritage drive to Swan Hill via Kerang and Lake Boga, where you should pay a visit to the wonderful Flying Boat Museum.
Echuca Moama – Swan Hill: 155km, 1¾ hour
Echuca Moama – Deniliquin: 80km, 1 hour
Deniliquin – Koondrook Barham (Gunbower Island): 100km, 1½ hour
Gunbower Island – Swan Hill: 85km, I hour
Swan Hill is an historic riverside town worth at least an overnight stop for the Pioneer Settlement, an excellent recreation of a 19th century river port town, complete with period costumed characters, old time lolly shops, vintage car rides and a spectacular nightly sound and light show. Daily cruises on the PS Pyap leave from the wharf at the Settlement.
The final stop is Mildura, a lively town with one of the region’s most colourful heritage stories. Canadian brothers George and William Chaffey arrived in Australia in 1886 and developed the irrigation system that turned a harsh land into a fertile fruitbowl. Don’t miss the Rio Vista museum while following the historic Chaffey Trail. Mildura also boasts some fine art deco architecture and paddleboat cruises, including the steamer PS Melbourne. Journey another 30km west to visit historic Wentworth at the confluence of the Murray and Darling rivers.
About 180km northeast of Mildura or Wentworth, Mungo National Park should be an obligatory stop on your historical tour of the Murray. It’s an important archaeological site, and the best way to visit the park is on a guided tour with an indigenous guide from Mildura or Wentworth.
Swan Hill – Mildura: 222km, 2½ hours
Mildura – Mungo National Park: 180km, 4½ hours
Visit beautifully preserved Rio Vista and follow the Chaffey Trail in Mildura.
Relive those romantic All the Rivers Run days on an authentic steam-driven paddle boat at Echuca’s Heritage Port Precinct.
Step back in time at Swan Hill’s Pioneer Settlement, a faithful recreation of a 19th century port town.