By Shell on Jan. 11, 2022
DAY 1: Albury-Wodonga
The twin cities of Albury-Wodonga sit on opposite banks of the Murray, which also carves the border between New South Wales and Victoria. Enjoy your first taste of the river along the six-kilometre Wagirra Trail, which navigates mature red gums toward the bird-rich Wonga Wetlands. The Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk distracts en route, its 11 installations crafted by Aboriginal artists.
More culture beckons at MAMA (Murray Art Museum Albury), housing a dynamic collection of photographs, paintings, woodcarvings and Aboriginal artefacts. It’s a short walk from here to The River Deck Café, set on a postcard-perfect bend of the Murray. Menus hero regional farmers and producers – think Murray cod tacos with pickled onions, or Milawa duck with petits pois. Small humans with big energy will love the on-site playground.
Your base for tonight is design-driven Circa 1928, occupying a former bank building replete with original Ionic columns. After a glass of Riverina wine in the lounge, wander to Miss Amelie for dinner. A protégé of Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, chef David Kapay doesn’t miss a beat at his French-style bistro, from the seared scallops with native lime to the pillowy lemon souffle.
DAY 2: Albury-Wodonga – Yarrawonga
Breakfast doesn’t get any fresher than a plate of locally farmed produce at Albury’s Cafe Musette. You’ll need your energy – today’s first stop is Woomargama National Park, a 30-kilometre detour to the north-east. This is the largest patch of protected forest in the Great Dividing Range, with hiking, biking and 4WDing all popular diversions.
Back on the Murray, your 1.5-hour route west takes you to one of the region’s tastiest attractions: the Willy Wonka-esque Corowa Whisky and Chocolate. Pick up a chocolate ‘pizza’, see how freckles are made and watch distillers perfect peated bourbon and Mad Dog Morgan whisky, with notes of orange and burnt caramel.
Wine fans will want to cross into Victoria to visit Rutherglen, one of Australia’s most historic grape-growing regions. Pop into cellar doors from the likes of De Bortoli and John Gehrig, before lunch is served at Lake Moodemere Estate and Lakeside Restaurant. If the waterside setting doesn’t win you over, then the housemade buffalo mozzarella and estate lamb bolognese will.
Set your GPS for Yarrawonga, a 35-minute drive west. This is the gateway to Lake Mulwala, a man-made reservoir created to control the flow of the river. It’s particularly magical at sunset, when the last of the day casts fiery colours over ghostly gums protruding from the water’s surface. It’s a similar vista from the Sebel Yarrawonga Silverwoods, where slick one- to three-bedroom apartments are only outshone by the infinity pool.
DAY 3: Yarrawonga – Tocumwal
After a few hours on the fairway, it’s time for an alfresco lunch of wood-fired pizzas at Blacksmith Provedore. The space looks like it slipped from the pages of a glossy magazine, replete with pastel-pink sun umbrellas on a grassy patio, and light-filled interiors flecked with greenery. Added bonus: the buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto are locally produced.
There are dozens of beaches and swimming holes along the course of the Murray. And many surround Tocumwal. Grab your fishing rod and swimming trunks and find a shady perch to cool off under sky-scraping red gums. Then retire to Bridges Villas, overlooking some of the 36 holes at Cobram Barooga Golf Club.
DAY 4: Tocumwal – Perricoota
Follow the river west through the immense Murray Valley National Park, 41,600 hectares of wilderness forming part of the largest continuous swathe of red gum forest in the world. The five-kilometre Gulpa Creek route here is flat and serene, with plenty of places to enjoy a dip or spread out a picnic rug.
It’s an easy drive to the small grape-growing region of Perricoota, north-west of Echuca-Moama. Sip (responsibly) at Restdown Wines, which makes organic varietals best enjoyed with a platter of homemade terrine, cheeses and freshly baked bread.
You don’t have to travel far to reach Perricoota Vines Retreat, its timber villas overlooking vineyards and a lake where flocks of friendly ducks greet curious travellers.
DAY 5: Perricoota – Echuca-Moama
You can get a feel for life on the water in a couple of hours when you jump aboard a paddle-steamer from the Port of Echuca. The Discovery Centre details the history of the waterway, and also sells tickets for a two-hour lunch cruise aboard the PS Emmylou. Floating along you’ll spot adrenaline-junkies zip by on waterskis and wakeboards. If you’re inclined to follow suit, head to Brett Sands Watersports for lessons that will see you gliding like a pro in no time.
Back on dry land, Talo Retreat is an enclave of Mongolian-style yurts within the Moama on the Murray Resort. This is glamping at its finest, your tent pitch perfect with wooden floors, plush double beds a lounge area – and unbridled access to nature. The only thing drawing you away is the promise of dinner at Junction, the industrial-chic dining room spotlighting a roll call of regional producers. This is the Murray in a mouthful.