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Published June 18th 2015
The ultimate list of activities for visitors
Mildura, in the heart of Sunraysia, is a regional city built in the late 19th Century around innovative irrigation ideas, great fruit production farms and acclaimed wine growing businesses. Now home to some 30,000 people, Mildura has expanded to include tourism as a key platform in the offering that it has to residents and visitors alike.
Compiling a list of the top 7 things to do was always going to be hard, as I was always going to have to leave some out in my effort to focus on those top activities that are local. Hopefully this list ensures that there is something to do for all members of the family whether they are in Mildura for several hours or several days.
In 1886 the Chaffey Brothers arrived in Mildura to study the irrigation potential of the River Murray. A year later they returned, purchased some properties which then commenced a legacy that spread across irrigation, viticulture, property and other interests.
The Mildura Rural Council, in honour of the brothers, have created the Chaffey Trail, a self-guided tour of nine significant items of development associated with the brothers. From the origins of the Mildura Homestead to the grandeur of the Rio Vista House, this tour highlights some of hardships experienced by early pioneers, and gives recognition to the achievements of the extended Chaffey family.
Located just across the river, the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens are spread over 152 hectares and feature trees and shrubs from numerous countries around the world. Carefully planted according to geography, the changes of season always creates something new to look at in terms of plant and tree growth.
An old and historic mulga tree is a highlight while a rose garden with over 1600 roses stands prominently in the centre of the Gardens and is the host to various weddings, functions and other photographic opportunities. The variety of roses from across the world create an almost never-ending display of flowers, with most major colours covered.
Just over 100km northeast of Mildura is one of Australia's great archaeological finds known as Lake Mungo. The lake and the surrounds is estimated to be at least 100,000 years old with considerable evidence of indigenous habitation over many of those years. A reconciliation plaza at the entrance to the Park, and various information boards provide a historical perspective on life at Mungo many years ago.
A self-guided drive around the Lake takes visitors past the Great Wall of China, which is a series of sand dunes that match or exceed those seen at many city beaches. A windswept lunar landscape on the western side of the sand dunes shows the effect that the predominant southwesterly weather has had over the years on this side of the sand dunes, and provides great contrast to the large dunes on the eastern side.
Known locally as Feast Street, Langtree Avenue is a popular spot in the centre of Mildura and is home to numerous cafes, restaurants and bars. The perennially sunny climate of Mildura has encouraged each of these facilities to expand on to the pavement and they are often filled with visitors every evening, with occasional special events resulting in the whole road being closed.
A multitude of options exist of Feast Street ranging from high end dining at Stefanos to more casual dining options, to the craft beers manufactured at the Mildura Brewery, and the 48 flavours of icecream. The popularity of the eating options and the street mean that it is wise to book ahead, particularly on weekends.
The market culture is alive and strong in the Sunraysia with markets every weekend. The Farmers Market is held on the foreshore at Mildura on every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, and features many locally grown and produced foods and associated products.
Meanwhile on Sundays, the larger Country markets take place at Red Cliffs (1st Sunday), Merbein (3rd Sunday) and in the centre of Mildura on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. Over 100 stallholders regularly attend and display their wares, often with stalls spreading across parklands and in to the main streets and hence creating a great party atmosphere.
For those with a sweet tooth, or an original lolly addiction, a visit to Ye Older Lolly Shoppe is a must. This shop is jam packed with old favourites, and many that have been unseen for years. Cobbers, Blackpool Rock, Dutch Liquorice and Steam Rollers were all long lost favourites of mine that managed to find themselves a new home by the end of my last visit.
Any visit to Mildura is not complete unless time is spent admiring the beauty and mightiness of the Murray River. Lock 11 and the Mildura Weir are unique along the Murray as they are the only lock and weir separated by an island. The nearby gardens and lawns offer a shady area for a picnic, a chance to watch the boats traverse the river, or a chance to catch some beautiful evening sunsets or moonrises.
A bit closer to town, and the Mildura Wharf hosts the historic paddle steamers prior to their afternoon cruises, while kayaks are available for hire from the Mildura Marina. Across the river the campsites are a great spot to camp, fish and generally while the time away while enjoying the temperate Mildura climate.
Mildura is serviced daily by airlines, and is just over an hour from Melbourne. Alternatively the Sunraysia and Calder Highways make light travelling of the trip. Further information on Mildura, accommodation and more things to do is available from the Mildura Visitor Centre or their website.