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 Victorias beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published March 19th 2016
Echuca, Melbourne's Playground on the Murray River
Top 12 Things to do on an Echuca Moama Long Weekend
At only a two and three quarter hour drive from Melbourne and nestled on the banks of the Murray River, Echuca-Moama is the ideal long weekend getaway, although there is so much to do that might not be long enough.
Whatever your passion; a paddle steamer ride, a museum tour, a nature walk, a winery visit, relaxing by the river, or fine wining and dining, you will not be disappointed. My husband and I visited them all and had a fantastic time.
Following are just 12 of the many wonderful activities Echuca-Moama and the surrounding area has to offer. We found the Visitor Information Centre to be very helpful and informative with a great range or maps, brochures and an extensive range of accommodation options. The Centre is at 2 Heygarth Street, Echuca and can be telephoned on (03) 5480 7555, Freecall 1800 804 446 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PS Emmylou docked at the Port of Echuca and on shore the logs she uses for fuel (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Entry to the Discovery Centre also includes access to the port which you can explore yourself but if you want an animated and interesting dose of history and detail you can't go past the port tour. Be led by a tour guide in period costume and hear tales of the Murray River paddles steamers.
The Port of Echuca viewed from the Murray River (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Discovery Centre is a modern museum. Displays of the area's history abound. There are glass cases, floor and wall mounted displays and videos. But don't pass by without opening the draws beneath the glass cabinets. There are more displays in each draw. Some of the drawers contain letters written more than a century ago.
The Port of Echuca and Discovery Centre is at 74 Murray Esplanade, Echuca. The Centre is open 9am to 5pm every day except Christmas Day. Port tours are at 11.30 daily and there are a number of discovery centre and tour packages, some of which include paddle steamer rides. For more information and package prices ring the centre on 1300 942 737 or visit their website.
Paddle Steamer Cruise
You can't visit Echuca without cruising on at least one paddle streamer. How better to spend a restful morning, afternoon or evening than a cruise along the peaceful Murray, listening to the slap, slap of the paddles, passing by giant river red gums their twisted roots exposed, watching cormorants dry their wings, pelicans lazily swimming, swallows darting about the wake of the boat.
There are a variety of cruises on offer, short one hour rides, cruise and port tour combinations, lunch and dinner cruises, wharf to winery cruises, and overnight cruises. Having done the wharf to winery, my husband and I were eager for more and booked a one hour cruise on the PS Emmylou where we sipped coffee and ate giant cookies as the river slipped peacefully past.
The PS Pevensey on the Murray River at Echuca (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Echuca Paddle Steamers run the PS Pevensey and PS Alexander Arbuthnot. They can be contacted via their website, at their shop at 30 Murray Esplande, Port of Echuca or by telephone on (03) 5481 2832.
Murray River Paddle Steamers run the PS Emmylou, PS Canberra and Pride of the Murray. They can be contacted via their website, at their shop at 57 Murray Esplande, Port of Echuca, or by telephone on (03) 5482 5244.
Prices range from $24 for adults with family and multi attraction packages available.
The Holden museum in Echuca is displaying over forty Holden Cars representing the history of the iconic model. All the models have information plaques and for some this will be a walk down memory lane. Peer into engine bays, meander past Holden memorabilia and take in the photographic display. Sit in the small theatre and watch historic film, check out their photos or indulge yourself in the gift shop. This is the largest one brand car museum in Australia and even a Ford enthusiast could not help but be awed by the displays.
Australian motoring history at the Holden Museum in Echuca (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Holden Museum is at 7-11 Warren St Echuca. It is open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm. For more details ring on (03) 5480 2033 or check the website for more details.
Kingfisher Cruises Eco Tour
Kingfisher Cruises runs an eco-tourism cruise on the Barmah Choke, the narrowest section of the Murray River. The cruise leaves from the Day Visitor Area at Barmah Lake, in the largest remaining red gum forest on the planet. The MV Kingfisher captain is Benita Cox. Cruise past the mouth of Barmah Lake and cruise alongside Snake Island. River Red Gums flank the river. Welcome Swallows flit around the boat. Benita points out azure kingfishers. You can also expect to see whistling kites, pelicans, cockatoos and cormorants.
The MV Kingfisher about to embark on an eco-tour along the Barmah Choke (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Check the website for cruise times and current pricing, email Benita on email@example.com 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 Cafι, both in Maloney Street, Barmah.
Picturesque Horseshoe Lagoon is just over the bridge from Echuca to Moama. Directions and a map can be obtained from the Echuca-Moama Visitor Information Centre. A boardwalk passes over the lagoon and through to the banks of the Murray River. Tracks ideal for both walking and cycling extend into the bush and skirt wetlands. European carp can be seen swimming just beneath the surface of the lagoon. Birdlife is abundant; ducks, cormorants, rosellas, corellas, and wrens to name but a few.
Picturesque Horseshoe Lagoon in Echuca-Moama (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Horseshoe Lagoon is in Moama. From Echuca, cross the river on the Cobb Highway, take the first right onto Shaw Street, cross the railway line and take the first right again. There is roadside parking near a gazebo at the boardwalk entrance. (The road also leads to the Moama Riverside Holiday and Tourist Park.) Entry is free. For more information and a detailed map visit the website.
Mathoura Reed Beds Bird Hide
The board walk to the Mathoura Reed Beds Bird Hide is flanked by metal sculptures and lined with information panels. Spin the panels to activate an audio of each bird's call. Do stop to read them as they are written from the comical viewpoint of the bird. On the walls of the hide are letters and emails from migratory birds like the letter to Cousin Coot. Or the email titled, How is Siberia? Openings in the hide are at different heights to cater for everyone. Clear patches of water are flanked by large areas of green and red weeds. Many birds can be seen here. On our visit we spotted a white-plumed honeyeater Eurasian coots, eastern swamp hens, eastern great egrets, white-necked herons, pacific black ducks, welcome swallows, whistling kites, pelicans and white ibis
A birdwatcher's paradise at the Mathoura Reed Beds Bird Hide near Echuca (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Mathoura Reed Beds Bird Hide is at the Moira Precinct of the Murray Valley National Park, Picnic Point Road, Mathoura, around 40kms from Echuca, via Moama on the Cobb Highway. There is no charge and you may enter at any time. There are public toilets by the car park. Check the National Parks website for more details.
Torrumbarry Weir and Interpretive Centre
Torumbarry Weir Reserve is a short trip from Echuca along the Murray Valley Highway. Native gardens surround a lawn picnic area. The interpretive centre is free to enter. Inside native bird calls play and a television screen is mounted on part of the historic wooden weir. Press buttons to choose videos about the Murray-Darling Basin, the weir and loch system, and water conservation.
There is a model of the weir, walls lined with photographs and stories, and reproductions of newspaper articles. Outside, gates open to a viewing area above the weir. See a fish ladder and walk along the top of the weir to view its workings up close. Have a picnic on the lawns or take a walk along the river.
The Torrumbarry Weir (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Torrumbarry Weir is about 35 kilometres west of Echuca along the Murray Valley Highway. Turn onto Torrumbarry Weir Road for five kilometres. The weir is at the end. The interpretive centre opens 8am to 5pm daily. Entry is free. There is a picnic ground and toilet facilities. There is a general store at Torrumbarry Weir Holiday Park next door. For more information ring the Echuca-Moama Visitor Information Centre on Freecall 1800 804 446 or (03) 5480 7555 or visit the Torumbarry website.
Echuca Historical Society Museum
The Echuca Historical Society Museum, in the Port Precinct, not only preserves the area's history through photos and artefacts but here you can view original Murray River Charts and microfilm of the Riverine Herald newspaper currently from 1863 to 1900. Housed in the Heritage listed old police station and lock up, built in 1869, the museum displays historic photos, documents, costumes, engines, horse drawn transport, and farming and forestry equipment. The Historical Society also offers historic guided town walks.
Yesteryear hand tools on display at the Echuca Historical Society Museum (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Echuca Historical Society Museum is at the Old Police Station, 1 Dickson Street, Echuca, just across the road from the port. Entry to the museum (March 2016) is Adults $5 and Children $2. More details can be found on their website or by telephoning (03) 5480 1325.
Chanter Estate Winery and Military Museum
A restored 100 year old church with a magnificent leadlight window houses the Chanter Estate Winery and fronts the Military Museum. Enjoy a wine tasting in this quiet setting. They have Semillon, Chardonnay, Taminga, Shiraz, Mataro, and Genache.
Historic vehicles at the Chanter Estate Winery and Military Museum in Moama (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Out back is the Military Museum, a huge shed jam packed with vintage military trucks, tanks, cars, motor bikes, tractors and bicycles. There are also tools, radios, wartime newspapers, uniforms, bottles, cameras and so much more. Outside are a couple of tanks.
The Chanter Estate Winery and Military Museum is at Lot 1 Chanter Street, Moama. They can be contacted on (03) 5480 0334. For more details visit the Echuca Moama Tourism website.
Great Aussie Beer Shed and Heritage Museum
The Great Aussie Beer Shed and Heritage Museum houses a collection of 17,000 beer cans. There is memorabilia even in the car park. Owner, Neil, runs a tour through his beer can collections. There are beer bottles too, tap tops and brewery equipment. Added to that is yesteryear paraphernalia in displays that are too numerous to list.
Just a small part of the 17,000 beer cans in the Great Aussie Beer Shed collection (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
In addition to the Beer Shed there is a Heritage Farm Museum where all manner of farm equipment, some dating back to the 1800's, is on display. There is easy access along cement paths. The equipment is identified by amusing painted signs.
An antique farm water cart at the Great Aussie Beer Shed and Heritage Museum (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Great Aussie Beer Shed and Heritage Farm Museum are at 377 Mary Ann Road, Echuca about 6kms from the Echuca CBD. In addition to the two museums it provides a licensed function centre and holiday accommodation. Public and disabled toilets are available and there is parking for cars, buses and caravans. It is open 9:30am - 5pm weekends, public holidays and school holidays or by appointment. It is closed following the Victorian July school holidays and reopens at the end of August. Entry (Mar 2016) is $13 per adult, $10 seniors, $5 children and family pass 2 adults and all kids under 18 for $30. More details can be found on their website.
Port of Echuca Wharf to Winery Cruise and Luncheon
Fancy a gourmet lunch at Morrisons Winery on the balcony amongst the river gums and kookaburras, the Murray River on one side and vineyards on the other, and followed up with a wine tasting. Not bad but there's more, your transport to and from the Port of Echuca is on board a paddle steamer. Following a relaxing half hour cruise downstream you will be dropped off at Morrison Winery's own jetty and picked up again for the return cruise in the afternoon.
Docking at the Morrison Winery on the Wharf to Winery Tour (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The cruise runs daily and offers two return times in the afternoon. The package which includes the return paddle steamer cruise, a two course meal, a glass of wine/ beer /soft drink and wine tastings costs $75. (March 2016). More information can be found and bookings made on the Murray River Paddle Steamers website at their shop at 54 Murray Esplanade, Port of Echuca, Echuca or by telephoning (03) 5482 5244. Details are also available on Morrisons Winery's website
Port of Echuca Tourist Precinct
The Port of Echuca Precinct is a mecca for tourists. You will no doubt have difficulty dragging yourself and the children away. Park the car and explore the huge variety of activities and places on offer.
Visit the Discovery Centre
Book a guided tour of the port
Take a paddle steamer cruise with Echuca Paddle Steamers or Murray River Paddle Steamers
Ride a horse drawn carriage
Horse drawn coach rides at the Port of Echuca Precinct (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Have your photos taken in period costume
Visit Sharps Magic Movie House and Penny Arcade and see an authentic penny arcade with antique machines, a theatre screening old movies and more varieties of fudge than you could imagine
Taste some wines or buy wares made from recycled wine barrels at St Anne's Vineyards shop
Have a meal or snack at one of the many eateries
Drop by and indulge yourself at the Echuca Chocolate Company
Watch a blacksmith at work
Visit the Echuca Historical Society Museum
Visit and art gallery
Hire a bike
The Port of Echuca Precinct is on Murray Esplanade, Echuca but also takes in the surrounding streets. More details can be found on their website by visiting at 74 Murray Esplanade, Echuca or by telephoning (03) 5481 0500 or 1300 942 737.
Weekends away on the Murray are the best, and the Echuca/Moama region is just gorgeous. There's nothing like a good dose of fresh air, nature, fun and a bit of history thrown into the mix. Great ideas here, thanks for sharing! :)
Not been up there for forty years, but it seems I may be moving up there in 6 months, so yr article is very helpful. I wld like, and need, to know a lot more about Echuca-Moama - are there shopping centres, gyms, picture theatres, service clubs, etc.