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Kingfisher Cruises

Home > Victoria > Cruises | Day Trips | Environment | Escape the City | Family
by Gayle Beveridge (subscribe)
Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published November 28th 2014
Meet the Azure Kingfisher on the Barmah Choke
We came to Echuca-Moama for the Murray River. We expected to see paddle steamers and house boats, river gums and water birds. We hoped to see kingfishers, so booked onto Kingfisher Cruises, an eco-tourism cruise on the Barmah Choke, the narrowest section of the Murray River where the water runs twice as fast as normal.

kingfisher, barmah, echuca, cruise, eco-tourism
The MV Kingfisher.

The cruise leaves from the Day Visitor Area at Barmah Lake, a pleasant 30km drive from Echuca. This area is home to the largest remaining red gum forest on the planet and we are surrounded by these majestic beauties.

Sulphur-crested cockatoos watch as our boat, The MV Kingfisher, approaches. Our captain, Benita Cox, docks at the river bank and drops a ramp for us to board this flat bottom, roofed boat with rows of seats. We set off past the mouth of Barmah Lake and cruise alongside Snake Island. Although snakes are sometimes sighted on the cruise we do not see any today.

snake, island, cruise, barmah, murray
Snake Island.

River Red Gums flank the Murray. Lake Moira lies unseen behind the left bank. A blue sign with the number 1774 is nailed to a tree. This is the distance in kilometres to the mouth of the Murray.

Welcome Swallows flit around the boat. Benita explains these speedy birds are after insects stirred up by our passing. A swallow flies into the boat and settles on a ledge under the roof.

kingfisher, barmah, echuca, birdwatching
An azure kingfisher.

Suddenly Benita points out an azure kingfisher. Who would have thought they were so small and so fast. They dart from one reed to another, settle for barely a moment. Oh but they are exquisite! Their head and back are a deep azure blue and their breast as orange as the moon on a smoky night. This the first of several sightings.

MurrayRiver, Barmah, 1774
A distance marker - 1774 kilometres to the mouth of the Murray River.

Along the bank to our right is a River Red Gum believed to be 500 years old. Further along a gum has dropped a branch, exposing at the break the rust red colour from which they get their name. Known for dropping large branches without warning, these trees are sometimes referred to as widow-makers.

We spot significant nests in the trees. A whistling kite soars overhead and later, a pelican. We see a cormorant perched on a submerged branch, drying its wings. A shy bird, it attempts to fly off, but its wings are still wet. It swims instead.

On the return trip we cruise by a creek, that rather than flowing into the Murray, flows out of it. Then all too soon this relaxing cruise is over.

Check the websit for cruise times, email Benita on or telephone (03) 5855 2855. Cruises depart from the Day Visitors Area at Barmah Lake, around 30kms from Echuca. Take the Cobb Highway to Barmah Road and continue over a small bridge onto Moira Lakes Road. There is ample parking, a camping ground and a public toilet. Lunch can be bought at the nearby Barmah Hotel, or at the Barmah Café, both in Maloney Street, Barmah.
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Why? To enjoy a relaxing cruise in a calming natural environment, to listen to the lapping of water, to watch birds soar.
When: See website for cruise times
Phone: (03) 5855 2855
Where: Day Visitor Area at the end of Moira Lakes Road, Barmah Lake
Cost: (Nov. 2014) 2 hour cruise - Adults $37.50, Child $21.00, Family $100.00 or $115.00 - check website for up to date rates and other alternatives
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