Begin your journey by travelling to Cobram, a township just 3 1/2 hours north of Melbourne. Located on the Murray River, it hosts a wide variety of retail venues, eateries and activities. Its position in the centre of Sun Country makes it a perfect starting point for your weekend away.
Start exploring with a walk or bike ride along the numerous trails along the Murray. Be sure to see the sandy river beaches that the Sun Country is famous for. Cobram hosts several, including Thompson’s Beach, the largest inland beach in the country. If you’re hungry, be sure to get lunch at The Beach Club Cafe while you’re down there.
Spend the afternoon bushwalking around Quinn Island, located along River Rd, Cobram. Quinn Island is a wetland reserve with a large walking track, complete with information boards, signage and a bird hide. Allow two hours to complete the walk, taking your time enjoying the surroundings.
For dinner, take a short drive to Tocumwal. Eat at the Old Bank, which serves traditional and Italian meals. It’s cosy inside, while pizzas on the deck is perfect on a warm summer’s night. After dinner, stroll the historic main street or wander along the river.
Begin your day with breakfast at Sweetness, a café just across the bridge in Barooga. You could drive, but it’s a lovely walk from Cobram, across the old railway bridge and along scenic walking tracks.
After breakfast, take a drive Ulupna Island, which is part of the Barmah National Park and is a popular bushwalking and camping area. The island is heritage listed as a flora reserve, and features a rich array of plant life, including the rare Muelller and Reader’s daisies. It is also a good place to spot wildlife, particularly koalas and woodland birds including the threatened grey-crowned babbler.
After exploring Ulupna, grab lunch at the Strathmerton Bakery or Café 3641 on your way to Kinnaird's Wetlands on the outskirts of Numurkah. This 100-hectare wetland is part natural and part man-made, and features a 3.5km Red Gum Walk, a 2km Wetland Walk, a 2km Young Red Gum Walk, and numerous board walks and bird hides. The wetland is home to over 250 bird species, as well as mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Wind your way back to Cobram in time for dinner at the newly renovated Cobram Hotel (known to all as the ‘Top Pub’).
From Cobram, travel west along the Murray Valley Highway to Nathalia. Like Numurkah, it too sits on the Broken Creek. The Nathalia Botanical Gardens are a scenic section of the Broken Creek, starting in town.
Be sure to visit the Barmah Forest Heritage and Education Centre in the main street. The centre exhibits the history of the Barmah Forest, from its creation thousands of years ago, through the 19th and 20th centuries when it was a vital source of industry for surrounding towns, until 2010 and beyond when it became a national park and prime tourist destination. The Centre is open 7 days, 9am to 5pm.
Get lunch at one of the hotels in Nathalia, or continue to the town of Barmah, and call into the Barmah Hotel instead.
From Barmah, travel up into the Day Visitor Area of Barmah National Park. You can see the muster yards take a trip on the Kingfisher Cruises from here. The Cruises take place on a small boat, taking passengers two hours up the Murray River. This is the best opportunity to see native wildlife and learn about the history of this section of the Murray River, known as the Narrows or the Barmah Choke for its channel-like conditions.
You can also explore further into the forest, either driving or walking. Allow a few hours to explore, spotting birds, kangaroos and more than 500 plant species. The Lakes Loop is a 4km walking/cycling trail that passes Aboriginal sacred sites including ancient kitchen middens, oven mounds and canoe trees, designed in collaboration with the local Yorta Yorta traditional owners.
In the late afternoon, travel back to Cobram and freshen up for dinner. If you have kids with you, the Barooga Sports Club (‘Sporties’) has a kid’s activities room to keep them busy while you and your partner or friends enjoy a relaxing dining experience. Alternatively, the Cobram Barooga Golf Club offers a quieter atmosphere overlooking the golf courses.