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Local Villages in Sun Country on the Murray

There are lots of great reasons to hit the road and explore Sun Country. With fabulous state and national parks and rugged bush, the 4WD enthusiast can enjoy driving through remote areas and setting up a riverside camp all to themselves.

Food and drink lovers can sample the freshest natural produce available anywhere in the world along the Murray Farm Gate Trail, while nature lovers can explore the unique native flora and fauna of our woodlands, wetlands, lakes and rivers.

Connecting all of these are the smaller towns and villages of Sun Country on both sides of the Murray. As you explore, take time to soak in real regional life, where the locals are farmers, primary producers and families enjoy the relaxed lifestyle and community connection.

Here’s a sample of some regional villages to look out for. Take a turn off the highway and spend a short stay chatting to locals and making the most of real country-town Australia. We love all of these places – each offering something different for the visitor – so here they are in alphabetical order:

Katamatite

Just south of Cobram and less than 30 minutes’ drive southeast of Yarrawonga Mulwala is Katamatite.

A feature of this small village is Katamatite Garlic, a local producer that specialises in permaculture and the production of premium quality, chemical free, organically grown garlic, free from chemical fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides or soil conditioners. Look out garlic planting and seed-saving workshops for kids and adults, and – if you’re there in season, pick up some of their hand-planted, cleaned and prepared garlic. They also grow berries. Yum.

A trip to Katamatite wouldn’t be complete without a browse through the eclectic Katamatite Bazaar. Specialising in vintage women’s fashion and shoes – but stocking a huge variety of bric-a brac, it’s a fun place to spot a bargain. Note that it’s closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Before leaving, look out for sculptor Andrew Whitehead’s glorious eagle sculpture – a soaring bird rendered in metal that captures the majesty of local birdlife.

Koonoomoo

For the sweetest of berries, there’s no better stop-off than Koonoomoo, just 5 or 6 minutes up the Murray Valley Highway from Cobram Barooga.

The town features The Big Strawberry – take a photo and add it to your collection of fibreglass giants from around Australia! If you’ve seen a big pineapple, banana, earthworm, Murray cod or crayfish, you can’t miss the strawberry.

There’s also an on-site café offering all things strawberry (including wine!) and a chance for your family to enjoy strawberry picking if the season is right.

Also in Koonoomoo is the berry and stone fruit producer KNM Berries and Fruit. Stop by their farmgate shop where a huge variety of berries, stone fruit and vegetables is available.

Picola

Picola is a pretty little village off the highway between Nathalia and Barmah. The Picola Heritage Park offers a beautiful oasis for you to enjoy a picnic in the shade. There is also signage dotted through the park that describes the area and its place in the region’s pioneering history.

The Heritage Park marks the start (or the end) of the Numurkah–Picola Rail Line Bushland Reserve, built along the now-disused old train tracks.

The reserve in Picola also features a stunning example of silo art. Details of the nearby Barmah Forrest, including gums and a stunning parrot, appeared on the enormous silo in late 2020, courtesy of artist Jimmy DVate, a veteran of Melbourne’s street art scene.

St James

Just 25 minutes south of Yarrawonga Mulwala is the small farming village of St James. The town is notable for being the location of the first general store owned and operated by G.J. Coles. Later shifting base to Melbourne, the Coles supermarket empire now rivals Woolworths as the biggest supermarket chain in Australia.

The pretty village is home to some lovely old buildings and a pub that is renowned for its friendly service and generous meals. The 9-hole St James golf course is fun to play, with classic rural sand “greens” and lovely long fairways shaded by giant gum trees.

Not to be missed in St James is the stunning 4-pronged silo art, with massive images featuring the people and history of the region.

Strathmerton

A short drive from Tocumwal and Cobram Barooga, and Surrounded by rich dairy farmlands, Strathmerton is a pretty town. With delicious fresh pastries and sandwiches at Strathmerton’s Café 3641 and kid-friendly, exotic Mexican fare at the other-worldly Cactus Country, its natural goodness all the way.

On the outskirts of Strathmerton is the cool oasis of Ulupna Island. An early-morning or late-afternoon visit will not disappoint, with kangaroos and koalas virtually guaranteed all year round.

Tungamah

Under 20 minutes’ drive south of Yarrawonga, tiny Tungamah – on the banks of the Boosey Creek – boasts a mighty history. It’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, but miss it at your peril!

The history and colonial architecture of Tungamah is grand enough to deserve its own feature route: the Tungamah Heritage Walk. While the quiet life and fertile land draws 21st century locals to call this town home, Tungamah was once a bustling regional hub.

As well as the lovely historic buildings, Tungamah is a don’t-miss stop for art lovers who are drawn to the glorious silo art that has been so popular over recent years. In Tungamah, it’s hard to miss artist Sobrane’s head-turning multi-silo work depicting local birds. The kookaburra, pink galah and brolga are easy to spot. Can you see the others?

Wilby

Just east of Tungamah, less than 20 minutes from Yarrawonga, is the quiet village of Wilby. Quiet, that is, until the local racetrack revs up for another racing event.

Just south of the village, through the park and bushland reserve, you’ll find the Wilby Park Motorsports Club racetrack. Check in to see what’s on the calendar; events could include race days, test-and-tunes, drags and, to quote the club, “all the crash bangs that happen in life”.

Wunghnu

Located on Nine Mile Creek just 7km south of Numurkah on the Goulburn Valley Highway, the small township of Wunghnu (pronounced “one ewe”) was once an important regional hub. In the early 1900s, the town hosted a couple of general stores and multiple butchers and fruit shops. The local wheat trade also called for a flour mill in the town.

Now, Wunghnu is a quieter place; home to local farmers and people who work in the larger surrounding towns. It’s a quintessential regional Australian village.

The iconic cream-brick, two-storey Wunghnu Tavern serves meals from Wednesday to Sunday, and draws an eclectic crowd from places near and far who are keen for live music and an up-beat atmosphere.

Local Indigenous people have used trees in the area for thousands of years, and their traditional practices can still be seen in local “canoe trees”. These are huge gums that locals would use to create canoes, cutting into the trunk, but leaving the tree to stand and thrive. These scarred trees can still be seen in the local reserve bordering the Goulburn Valley Highway.

Welcome to Sun Country villages

No matter where you make your base in Sun Country – whether it be Yarrawonga, Berrigan, Finley, Cobram Barooga or Tocumwal – a short drive in any direction will find you in an interesting village with a story to tell and sights to see.