Australia’s longest river, the Murray flows from the Snowy Mountains down to the town of Albury, and joins the Darling River in Wentworth, in the far southwest of New South Wales. The slow-moving waterway is ideal for all manner of leisurely activities: paddlesteamer tours, kayaking, fishing, golfing. Match your outdoor pursuits with an equally tempting array of food and wine, with a strong emphasis on local and seasonal. It’s a 5.5-hour drive southwest from Sydney to Albury (you can also fly) — or just 3.5 hours from Canberra. If you want to tackle a longer road trip, follow the itinerary for the Mighty Murray Drive once you arrive.
Sightsee on a paddlesteamer
While you can catch a paddlesteamer up the Murray on a one-hour cruise, to fully appreciate the waterway it’s hard to look past an overnight experience. Jump aboard PS Emmylou for one- to six-night itineraries to and from the Port of Echuca (the Discovery Centre here is worth a visit). The experience offers a leisurely look at life on the river, not in the least the staggering 600-year-old red gums that line the banks. When you dock, enjoy campfire breakfasts, guided bushwalks and visits to the cellar doors of the region’s top wineries.
Pick up some speed
Parts of the Murray are extremely wide, making the river ideal for waterskiing expeditions. The Southern 80 in Echuca Moama is an adrenaline-pumping pro-waterskiing event attracting some of the world’s top athletes. But anyone can give this high-octane activity a go, with local operators like Brett Sands Watersports offering professional instruction in waterskiing, as well as wakeboarding, knee boarding and barefooting.
Soak up serenity
A manmade reservoir 150km east of Echuca Moama, Lake Mulwala was created to control the flow of the river, and is today known for its ghostly gum trunks protruding from the water’s surface. The setting is particularly magical at sunset — weave your kayak through the eerie trees, on the lookout for nesting waterbirds, your soundtrack the chatter of cockatoos, corellas and kookaburras. Contact the Yarrawonga Mulwala Amateur Canoe Club for rentals and tours.
Explore on two wheels
For cyclists, Five Mile Mountain Bike Trail provides seven kilometres of purpose-built mountain bike tracks, shaded by enormous red gums. Situated in the Murray Valley Regional Park, just a few kilometres north of Moama, the route is great for riders of all experience levels, offering an exhilarating mix of terrain with drops, flowing bridges and wall rides — there’s also a skills area and a pump track.
Join the club
There are more than a dozen world-class golf courses fringing the Murray River — some of the most highly rated in regional Australia, in fact. Head to 18-hole Howlong Golf Resort for immaculate greens and fairways surrounded by native bush, particularly pretty in spring when everything blooms; there’s on-site accommodation, should you wish to linger. Corowa Golf Club also has a hotel alongside its 27-hole championship golf course, not to mention the cinema, clubhouse and pro-shop. And at Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort, you can choose to tee off from three different courses: The Murray, situated beside the river; The Lake, with views of Lake Mulwala; and the shorter Executive, ideal for beginners.
Dine on the water
From produce-driven cafés and restaurants to foodie trails, farmers markets, orchards, olive groves, wineries, whisky distilleries and craft breweries, the Murray region doesn’t disappoint on the food front. Get a taste for the diversity of offerings at Redgums, a moving dining room on the deck of the PS Emmylou. Enjoy local wines and seasonal produce as you cruise along the river, spotting native wildlife on the banks while you feast.