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The Murray Loop 

February 15, 2006
The Murray Loop

Discover and Enjoy Swan Hill, Mildura, Mungo, Echuca and Bendigo.

Route From Melbourne on the Calder and the Alternative A790 to Marong, Bridgewater and Serpentine via Kerang, Lake Boga to Swan Hill (374km) about 4 hours.

Then travel from Swan Hill to Robinvale, Buronga and Mildura. (217km) about 3 hours. Visit Lake Mungo via the Arumpo Road (110km) from Mildura as a day trip.

Return to Melbourne via the Murray Valley Highway to Echuca, (374km) to Bendigo on the Northern, Midland and McIvor Highways (92km) and back to Melbourne on the Calder through Ravenswood and Harcourt (152km).

Total Distance 1319km

Outstanding Attractions-

Recreational Vehicles (RVs) on the Murray Valley Highway route between Kerang and Swan Hill find Lake Boga a peaceful place to stop, but the Catalina Flying Boat parked permanently on the lake shore pays tribute to a vital secret part of the Allied defenses during World War 11.

Drive past the caravan park and turn your RV to the right about 26km from Swan Hill into Lake Side Drive and then right again into Willakool Drive and as you follow the lake Catalina Flying Boat A24-30 ( pictured above) will confront you.

It marks a desperate time in our recent history. After a Japanese attack on Broome, WA, on March 3, 1942 destroyed 16 Allied Flying Boats the Government chose Lake Boga as a safe inland haven for Flying Boats engaged in the Allied defense of the South Pacific.

GoSeeAustralia suggests some things to do around Lake Boga- Swimming, fishing, boating, water skiing, Jet skiing, sailing, barbecues, picnicking, camping, caravan park; and see: Bests St Andrews Winery and Bests Great Western Winery. Little Murray Weir. The 'Faberge style' of the Imperial Egg Gallery art. Cannie Ridge Pump. Winters Stone Fruit Packing.

The Saunderson Type A tractor at the Pioneer Settlement, Swan Hill is not the kind of thing most people identify as a World Heritage treasure.

Newton Williams took six year to conserve the SaundersonBut that is just what the green and red three-wheeled 'Agricultural Motor' is among tractors. There are only two in the world and the Swan Hill Saunderson is the only one in going condition.

The other is at the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, Canada.

The Pioneer Settlements master restorer, Newton Williams, (left) says the Saunderson is the jewel in Swan Hills collection of vintage tractors.

The Pioneer Settlement Museum, Swan Hill it is an 'Original'.

It was the 'pioneering' Pioneer Settlement in Australia and its Sound and Light Tour set the pace. A ride in the specially built transporter into the Murray dusk each evening is a Time Machine to the world of 150 years ago.

It covers the time and pace of Australias growth from the thunder of the hooves of a Cobb and Co coach team to the hiss and puff of the steam locomotives which brought rapid transport to the Murray and Mallee regions.

The museum at Horseshoe Bend has a collection which remembers the Mallee-Murray adventure from the1830s to the 1930s.

The resident Clydesdale wagon rides are high on the visitors popularity pole.

Clydesdale museum ride Swan Hill Pioneer SettlementThe gentle giant Clydesdalesare part of rides throughout the day which are included in the admission. In addition to the clip clop progress through the pioneer settlement a 1923 Dodge car putters about with museum goers aboard.

Another uniquely Swan Hill experience is the Stereoscopic Theatre. It is one of two which have survived and is the grandfather and mother of the birth of movie entertainment.

After 108 years the paddle steamer Pyap is still whistling along the Murray as she cruises from her wharf at Horseshoe Bend. Her working river career was as a trading boat, with a store and special drapery section. Pyap was built in Mannum, SA, in 1896. Cruises run Tuesday to Sunday.

The 108 year old (2005) Pyap paddle steamerThe Pioneer Settlement Museum, Swan Hill is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. It opens daily during the Victorian School Holidays and on public holidays. The Sound and Light Tour starts at dusk every night. Bookings are essential.

GoSeeAustralia found it a particularly convenient attraction as it is right beside the Swan Hill Riverside Top Tourist Park which is where we set up our Murray-Mallee base camp.

One of the great National Parks of New South Wales is at Willandra Lakes and can be reachedvia the ArumpoRoad from Mildura (Vic.) or Wentworth (NSW). The Arumpo Road is rutted, sandyand rough and doesnot suit standard caravans.So Milduracaravan parksmakean excellentbase camp to leave the caravan.
Remains, which have been discovered at lonely Lake Mungo, identify a human culture more than 40,000 years old.

Lake Mungo is one the most important archaeological sites in the world.

In Mungo National Park, the first park to be World Heritage listed in Australia, archaeologists have dug up human skeletons and artifacts which show a continuous record of human occupation for more than 40,000 years.

As well they have found evidence of a variety of animals extinct on the Australian mainland. They include Tasmanian Devils and Tasmanian Tigers that wandered across the tropical landscape alongside giant kangaroos, giant emus, and even giant hairy nosed wombats.

Images of the mega fauna are on show at the National Parks Wildlife Service centre at Mungo. The famous Mungo Woolshed is also a must see. Mungo National Park also features the The Walls of China, a dramatic formation naturally carved by the erosion of the white sand dunes near Lake Mungo.

The Echuca, Swan Hill, Mildura, Wentworth stretch of the Murray has more sunshine hours per year than the Gold Coast.

Mungo is the 'birthplace' of human culture in Australia; with a skyscape the stretches forever above the strangely beautiful profiles of the sandy sculpture of the Walls of China.

This was once a lush and tropical lake. Aboriginal camps and fires from 40,000 years ago can be found, complete with middens that still show mussel shells and the bones of fish from ancient tribal feasts.

A 1923 Dodge tours the Swan Hill Pioneer MuseumWorld significance-

About 40km northeast of Echuca-Moama is the Barmah Red Gum Forest where the wildlife includes 230 species of birds.

The Barmah - Millewa Forest is the biggest stand of river red gum on earth and covers an area from Barmah through to Tocumwal.

It is a wetland area of great significance and protected under the Ramsar Convention.

A cruise through the 'Barmah Choke' (water levels permitting) and around the Barmah Lake is a wonderful experience.

There are 180 indigenous sites and hundreds of species of animals, birds and plants in the wetlands.

Early morning is the time to see the wetlands at their busiest. There are walking tracks on Ulupna Island near Strathmerton.

Red gum on show-

There are fascinating red gum showrooms at Barham - Koondrook that show the historic importance of the red gum timber and furniture industry to the area.

Arbuthnot Sawmill at Koondrook was sawing red gum in the 1880s and local furniture makers are exceptional craftsmen in the warm red timber.

Part of the Loddon River floodplain, the Kerang Wetlands support hundreds of species of water birds including the ibis, which can be viewed from a specially designed hide at the ibis rookery. Other active oases include Gunbower Island; Gannawarra Wetlands; Lake Charm and Kangaroo Lake.

Other active oases include Gunbower Island; Gannawarra Wetlands; Lake Charm and Kangaroo Lake.

Once a month at dawn, the tiny town of Murrabit, near Kerang, comes to life with one of Australias largest country markets. The Murrabit Country Market attracts more than 300 stallholders, most selling homemade delicacies made from regional produce.

The River Roads

The GemFrom Bendigo the Calder Highway traverses fine arts, a golden past, sweeping pastures, the states biggest salt lake, magic Hattah Kulkyne and Murray Sunset National Parks. The sudden green of grapevines at Red Cliffs underlines the miracle of Murray irrigation.

The 'River Road' the Murray Valley Highway heads west along it namesake from Echuca Moama.

Echuca remains a busy inland port with the biggest collection of paddle steamers in Australia.

The pride of the Murray, the three-decked paddle steamer Gem, is at Swan Hill. The steamer was a 'gem' for her pampered passengers but her wandering ways were a worry for her helmsmen as her high profile readily caught crosswinds and 'needed watching'.

Her sister the 108 year-old, Ruby has been restored and returned to the river at Wentworth, NSW. She is one of three sister ships. The third is the Marion based at Mannum, SA.

There are many river access points from the Murray Valley Highway at places like Tooleybuc and Boundary Bend. About 42km North West of Swan Hill, tiny Tooleybuc, NSW, is authentic riverland with magnificent red gums on a shining sweep of river. Tooleybuc, like Boundary Bend, Vic, is famous for its fishing.

Camping, bushwalking, fishing, swimming, boating and picnics are popular along the river. Further west is Robinvale, set among grapevines. The Murray Valley route joins the Sturt Highway at Robinvale and leads to Buronga, NSW, and Mildura Vic.via the bridge over the Murray.

The Murray connection continues on through Mildura toRenmark in SA to Adelaide or gothrough Wentworth, NSW, through Burra and the Clare Valley wine region to the SA Capital.

From Wentworth at the junction of the Murray-Darling river system the Silver City Highway leads to the Outback and the legendary mining city, Broken Hill.

Swan Hill Swan Hill Riverside CP. Beautifully situated along the banks of the Murray River, this spacious park is just 600 metres from the Post Office, main shopping area and licensed clubs yet provides holiday makers with a pleasant and relaxing environment. The park is nestled between the historic Pioneer Settlement and the Riverside Parklands. Courtesy buses are available for local Clubs and attractions.

Pioneer City Tourist Park is mentioned among the top 25 parks in Australia. The park offers great features at excellent value for money. The park is spacious and peaceful, and is the only accredited tourism business in Swan Hill. It provides a courtesy bus service to the Murray Downs country club, kiosk, LP gas refills, pool; tennis court and six-hole par 3 golf courses.

Swan Hill Holiday Park - Friendly service from the Dowell family at their picturesque quiet park. Shady spacious grassed caravan sites or an ensuite cabin will ensure a relaxing holiday or an enjoyable overnight stay.

Mildura - Coming up the Calder Hwy from Melbourne All Seasons Caravan Park is the first park in Mildura on the left with a creamand green picket fence. It is only a short walk from the Gateway Tavern and the Plaza Shopping Centre (openseven days). It is about 4kms to the centre of townand the Murray River. It has public transport right outside the door and a free tourand information booking office.

Desert City Holiday Park is located opposite the Mildura Plaza Shopping Centre (Woolworths, Target and 40 specialty stores) Burger King, and the Gateway Tavern. The award winning Hudak's Bakery is also close by (ask for a free tea or coffee voucher when you arrive at Desert City) and Warburtons Discount Butchery. Desert City Holiday Park offers quality accommodation, friendly service, entertainment, facilities, services, and value.

Apex RiverBeach Holiday Park is set among the gum trees on the banks of the Murray River, it has Mildura's most popular swimming beach on one side, and the state forest on the other.
The relaxed setting is an ideal location to kick back in. Whether you are into water sports or bush walking, like to stay in luxury villa, a caravan, a bus or a tentthe Holiday Parkcanfill the bill.
Activities to enjoy include: Birdwatching, bushwalking, cycling, swimming, photography etc, or just relax and rejuvenate.

Rivergardens Tourist Park has absolute Murray River frontage. Accommodation suits all styles and budgets, ranging from riverside camping sites to 4 star Deluxe River cabins. Both ensuite and powered sites are available on the river. The peaceful setting is amidst citrus trees and vines. Boat ramps, water skiing, golf courses. Rivergardens Top Tourist Park is within walking distance to the township of Gol Gol, which has a beautiful hotel, shops, post office, mechanics and a garden and gift centre. It is only afive minute drive to the heart of Mildura.

Echuca Echuca CP. In the heart of town, situated along the banks of the Murray River, adjacent to the historic Port of Echuca, provides a quiet natural setting within walking distance of the city centre. Sealed roads, security boom gate, and shady drive through sites, large lawn tent sites, campers kitchen and solar heated swimming pool.

Merool on the Murray is a completely self contained Private Holiday Park/Resort situated on 68 acres of freehold land with overtwo kilometres of absolute Murray River frontage, opposite Victoria Park Scenic Reserve. The park never feels crowded, yet only minutes from Echuca-Moama, Wineries, Restaurants, Licensed Clubs, and the Historic Port of Echuca. Holiday accommodation is available in luxury Pioneer themed two bedroom cottages and one bedroom Studio units, all with their own private balcony overlooking the River, or there aretwo bedroom Inland Cabins.

Yarraby Caravan and Holiday Park is a past winner of the Excellence in Business Tourism Award. It has Murray River frontage and a magnificent red gum forest. Accommodation includestwo and three bedroom deluxe spa cabins,three bedroomriver-view units and ensuite cabins. There are two heated resort pools, tennis, recreation room, barbecues and campers kitchen.

Cohuna Caravan Park is situated on the banks of the Gunbower Creek, home to the Australian barefoot ski championships and offers a range of nature and recreational based activities including an 18 hole golf course, Lawn tennis club, Squash, Shooting complex, Ski-Run, Lake water slide Olympic pool. Gunbower Island is the section of land sandwiched between the Murray River and its anabranch. The park is surrounded onthree sides by the Gunbower Creek, edged by the Gunbower State Forest, and is a great place to relax, the fishing is great. It is 62 km or 40 minutes drive from Echuca on the Murray Valley Highway and 1 hour from Swan Hill.

McLean Beach Caravan Park is a friendly, social, park on the shores of the Edwards River. It's the kind of park that you don't have to leave to have a great holiday. The weather is usually good most of the year. There isabundant bird and wildlife and swimming, boating and fishing in the river. Enjoy a song or a talk around the campfire at night. Located just one hour north of Echuca the park offers comfortable, affordable accommodation for all budgets. It haslarge drive through sites and dogs are welcome too!

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