Picturesque Murray River at Torrumbarry Weir
If my husband hadn't needed slippers we would not have known of Torrumbarry Weir
. In a shop in Echuca a couple selling shoes and model kits recommended the trip. They said history had been preserved in an interesting display.
After a short trip from Echuca along the Murray Valley Highway we turn onto Torrumbarry Weir Road. Five kilometres of picturesque waterways, farmland and swamp end at the gates to the Torrumbarry Weir Reserve. Native gardens surround a lawn picnic area. We are greeted with the drum of rushing water interspersed with the twitter of wrens.
We first view the weir from the high side. The Murray River is calm, dotted by yellow floating markers and reflecting trees in a mirror like surface. Swallows dart across the water as we sit on a log bench and admire the symmetry of the weir. I take photographs from a platform over the river that would be ideal for a spot of fishing.
The interpretive centre is free. Native bird calls play as we enter. For a moment I think we are hearing kookaburras in the trees outside. A television screen is mounted on a part of the historic wooden weir. We sit on benches and press buttons to choose videos. Here we learn about the Murray-Darling Basin, the weir and loch system, and water conservation.
A model of the weir demonstrates its construction. The walls are lined with photographs of the building and operation of the original wooden weir. We are surprised how many men it employed. We read reproductions of newspaper articles. Some recount the hardship and quarantine of the flu epidemic. Another reports on a strike caused by a food fight. A screen suspended from the ceiling plays old photos and interviews, an elderly lady tells of happy Sundays spent picnicking at the weir.
Outside, gates open to a viewing area above the weir. Here we see the mechanism. Plaques explain the working of the weir, the loch, the gates, the stoplogs and the fish ladder. We read them all, wouldn't you? We are intrigued by the fish ladder which allows native fish to move upriver for spawning but is a trap for carp.
A relaxing day ends with a walk along the river's edge. A houseboat is moored near a weeping willow. Four wheel drives with empty boat trailers wait for fishermen to return. We rest at the picnic tables. There is much to watch - wrens, yellow rosellas, honeyeaters, friar birds - and all the while the sound of water rushing through the weir.
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.