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Swan Hill: A Slice of History on the Murray River

Home > Victoria > Day Trips | Escape the City | Historic Houses | Places of Interest
by Melissa May (subscribe)
Freelance writer and blogger from Sydney (ex-Melbourne). Avid foodie and traveller. Loves dogs.
Published July 10th 2017
Swan Hill: Step back in time today
Positioned on the mighty Murray River, the Swan Hill region offers visitors a rich tapestry of art, culture and history. Swan Hill itself was founded in 1836 by Major Thomas Mitchell and quickly became the Victorian Mallee's main settlement. Today, this vibrant pioneer still retains its natural charm and beauty, making it one of regional Victoria's major tourist destinations. Swan Hill has much to offer and there's no time like the present to immerse yourself in the past by visiting the following five historical sites:

1) Pioneer Settlement: Established in 1963, Swan Hill's Pioneer Settlement was Australia's first outdoor museum. Perfectly positioned by the banks of the Little Murray River, the Pioneer Settlement tells the story of Australia's inland pioneers during 1830 to 1930 through period buildings, artefacts and interactive experiences. A multimedia laser light show called the Heartbeat of the Murray runs every night from 7:30pm. The Pioneer Settlement was featured as the stage for a recent Masterchef Australia episode featuring guest judge Heston Blumenthal.

Swan Hill, pioneer settlement, history, victoria, murray river
Swan Hill's Pioneer Settlement

2) PS Pyap: The Pioneer Settlement is home to several paddle steamers, most of which are no longer operational. The PS Pyap, however, continues to run daily from the Pioneer Settlement Wharf and winds its way along the mighty Murray River. The hour-long cruise travels along the way past the historic Murray Downs Homestead as the captain narrates the river history and the influence that paddle steamers had on early settlement along the Murray River.

3) Historic Trails: Due to its flat terrain, the Swan Hill region is perfect for exploring on foot or bike. Explore Swan Hill's past via two walks, both of which are perfect for all fitness levels. The River Walk is a 4.5km educational trail along the Murray and Little Murray Rivers beginning at Milloo Street Wetlands and finishing at Pental Island Bridge; this walk can be dipped into here-and-there along various points. There are signs along the way that provide interesting information about the fish, flora, fauna and pioneer history of the Swan Hill Region.

The second walking trail is called 'Now and Then', guiding walkers through the modern streetscapes of Swan Hill. This walk allows guests to meander through beautiful historic buildings as well as those sadly lost as time went by.

4) Lake Boga Flying Museum: The picturesque Lake Boga is the ultimate aquatic playground for outdoor thrill seekers but did you know it is also home to one of the region's best-kept treasures from World War II? The Lake Boga Flying Museum takes guests back to the 1940s, where Catalina flying boats were a common sight on the lake. Explore the underground secret communication bunker and be sure to check out the rebuilt A24-30 Catalina Flying Boat that is proudly on display.

5) Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery: Aboriginal tribes lived in the Swan Hill region as early as ten thousand years ago. Today, the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery is widely known as having one of Australia's most comprehensive collections of native art in addition to showcasing unique exhibitions and events all year round.
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Why? For a regional Victorian getaway with lots of history involved
Where: Swan Hill, Victoria
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