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8 reasons to visit the Murray

The Murray

  • Houseboats, Murray River, Victoria, Australia

Paddle steamers, luxury houseboats, canoes and skis, wineries, restaurants, markets and tees: eight top reasons to visit the Murray this summer.

1. Cactus Country
Make prickly pals with the most Insta-ntly likeable cactus garden in the country. Cactus Country in Strathmerton is home to more than 10,000 varieties of cacti and succulents, and has more than 20,000 Instagram followers. Get snap-happy on a self-guided tour through the gardens and head indoors for cactus cake and sombrero tomfoolery.

2. Riverside wines
The age-old water-and-wine combo proves itself once more with the winery equivalent of a swim-up bar on the Murray River. Hitch a ride on a paddle steamer or moor your houseboat and wander up the banks to Trentham Estate winery where cellar door tastings and gourmet luncheons are served with glorious river views.

3. Culinary legends
Treat yourself to four courses of seasonal, rustic Italian fare from celebrated Mildura chef Stefano de Pieri, the local culinary hero behind the Gondola on the Murray book and television series. With two hats from The Age Good Food Guide, Stefano's is as iconic as the Grand Hotel it's housed in.

4. Houseboats
Solve the summer holiday-house-or-boating-holiday quandary with a houseboat. Fully equipped and appointed with all kinds of summer-holiday necessities (think hammocks and outdoor spas) these floating homes offer the best of both worlds. Not sure if you're skipper material? All you need to operate a houseboat is a current drivers licence and a quick course offered by an operator.

5. Water sports
Take advantage of the Murray's year-round ski season with an adrenaline fuelled water-skiing experience. Join the many BYO-boat-ers or sign up for lessons in riverside towns.

Prefer to paddle? Tackle level five rapids with local adventure operators or paddle at your own pace on a solo or guided trip through pristine natural landscapes with picnic-perfect pit-stops.

6. Paddle steamers
Let off steam on a cruise down the Murray on a historic paddle steamer. Australia has more active paddle steamers than anywhere else in the world, and our biggest fleet is at the Port of Echuca, where you can easily hop aboard and relive your favourite moments from All The Rivers Run.

7. Local produce
Go for double helpings of the best from Victoria's food bowl: fresh fruit and vegetables, gourmet cheeses, nuts and excellent freshwater fish. Follow the Farm Gate Trail or choose your own culinary adventure and stock up at provedores and cellar doors, roadside stalls and farmers markets.

8. Golf
With more than 40 golf courses in the region, it's always tee time along the Murray. Spend sunny days on courses with lush fairways, sleek greens and views of Murray River Red Gums. Follow in the footsteps of hometown hero Stuart Appleby at Cohuna Golf Course, and five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson, who helped design courses at Thurgoona, Yarrawonga and Echuca.