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Murray River Paddlesteamers, Echuca

Home > Victoria > Cruises | Outdoor
by Hanford (subscribe)
Hanford is a piano teacher and freelance accompanist. Visit his website at
Published October 16th 2017
A paddle steamer is a must-do in Echuca

With the smell of spring in the air, I took a trip up to Echuca from Melbourne with a friend to participate in the Riverlights cruise on the Murray River.

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
One of the other boats - Emmylou

"Echuca Moama represents not only a bygone era with horse and carriage rides but also showcases all the conveniences of the modern era including the very best for those who appreciate good food and wine. Echuca Moama boasts a broad range of exciting activities including historic attractions, events & festivals, sporting facilities and unique river experiences."

After reading that on the town's official website, I anticipated meeting a sleepy little town full of charm.

From Melbourne, the car trip took us about 3 hours owing to the heavy traffic within the city itself - it was a Saturday afternoon. As a result, we actually missed the office hours of the ticket office.

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
Ticket office - however online booking is recommended

Thankfully, I had the number of the organiser at hand and he swiftly directed me to the skipper for the cruise to make alternate arrangements. From this friendly phone call, I could already tell it was going to be an easygoing cruise.

The cruise that night departed at 8.30pm so we made our way down to the port in the cool night air; past busy bars and restaurants where live music was heard and enjoyed.

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
All aboard the Pride of the Murray

The paddle steamer that we boarded for the cruise was called the Pride of the Murray. Paddle steamers are powered by steam engines running on wood which turn paddles to propel the ship through the water. The chugging sounds of the rotating paddles reminded me of water wheels high in the mountains of Japan.

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
The first level - air conditioned dining area

The double storey boat featured a dining area on the first and a sheltered viewing platform on the second. Heating and cooling systems are installed in the bottom layer and the temperature is kept comfortable.

Numerous pictures from the late 1800s and early 1900s are hung around the boat which offer a glimpse into the life of the early settlers in the area while they worked to build their fortune transporting live animals and material.

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
Viewing deck

Dinner for the night was a roast buffet with four different salads as well as a dessert to finish. The food was well prepared and the meat was very tender. The salads were also very popular.

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
Roast Buffet with lamb, pork and beef

A bar on board served alcohol as desired with many of the cruise-goers opting for a glass of red wine.

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
Four delicious salads

After dinner, there was a narrated cruise down a section of the Murray River where different historic steamers were pointed out to us and their stories delivered in a concise and interesting snippet. Amongst these were the Etona, a mission boat set up by the Church of England, and the Pevensy, a large wool transporter that was one of the last cargo paddle steamers on the Murray.

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
Iconic Australian Pavlova for dessert

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
The Canberra is the oldest boat in the fleet

Following this, a projected show onto the banks of the river was shown. The history and stories of the people of Echuca brought me closer to understanding how life was like from the founding of Echuca by Henry Hopwood to the eventual decline of river trade.

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
A very educational video about Echuca's history

The entire duration of the cruise was 2 hours and I felt it was just the right amount of time to enjoy the river and show. Cruise times vary but they generally depart earlier at around 6pm.

riverlights murray river paddle steamer cruise
Houseboats on the Murray River

These Riverlights cruises are not the only options available to the public - currently, there are lunch, dinner and even overnight cruises.
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*Hanford was invited as a guest
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Why? Experience the Murray on the water
Phone: 03 5482 5244
Where: 57 Murray Esplanade, Echuca
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