One of my favourite places to go when the weather in Melbourne is cold, is Echuca. Even though the coldness remains at night, you pick up a few degrees and sunshine as you drive north, and enter a world of gnarled old eucalypts, retirees with their caravans and relaxed smiles, enormous flocks of cockatoos and of course the rivers.
Located on the Murray River between Victoria and New South Wales, Echuca’s Port was at one time only surpassed by the Port of Melbourne. It has an interesting history. Echuca was founded by an ex Convict Henry Hopwood who was a very enterprising fellow and certainly worked hard to create his own success in Australia after not so positive beginnings. His entrepreneurial streak was demonstrated in his building a punt, hotel and bridge, at not insignificant cost in Echuca, which set Echuca up to become a major waypoint in the passing of trade from the North of Australia to the South.
It is worth reading more about him:
A huge red gum wharf was built in 1865 and Echuca today is known most for its Riverboats that carried trade. Echuca thrived between the 1860s and 1890’s, but sadly the Depression of that time, and then the extension of Railway networks offering an alternative to the boats, led to its demise in the 1920’s.
Many of the Paddlesteamers have now been restored (as has the wharfs and many of the cities buildings), and take passengers. When we ride these in winter, we stay close to the steam engine where it is warm! It must be an unspoken tradition to wave to the assorted boats, canoes and houseboat captains going past, never will you see so many relaxed happy smiles!
https://www.echucapaddlesteamers.net.au/, to read more.
The town likewise is a feast for the eyes with historic buildings, and was the setting for the filming of “All the Rivers Run”, a 1980’s tv series starring Sigrid Thornton. There are some intriguing shops and likewise signs!
Venturing away from the town centre, the Murray River has lovely forests with raised walkways, enabling for beautiful walking. We stayed across the river in Moama, and were a quick stroll from being able to explore the walkways.
There is no better place to sit back and relax and dine than the Echuca Beechworth Bakery. Always friendly and efficient service, nothing is too much trouble, the only hassle having to choose just one cake to go with my country chicken pie!!
Echuca is about a 2.5 hour drive from Melbourne, if you don’t stop.
But there are so many places of interest along the way, it is difficult not to.
On this occasion, we did stop in Elmore, (on the Campaspe River) to ride the miniature railway. The train track was about 1km long, and a lovely experience. Elmore, like Echuca, and many of the towns in this area with pastoral history, has lovely historic buildings.
Pink Cliffs - Heathcote
There is a hidden gem at Heathcote, known as the Pink Cliffs.
The search for gold and sleucing in the days before land conservation led to the creation of this environment, the array of colours is superlative, from strong pinks to yellows and whites. It is a little spot tucked away, the visitor numbers are never high and it is quite an experience to walk through in silence (and noisy buzz of local flies)
Without overhead shade, it can be very hot though, so if at all you can get there early or late in the day, I recommend you do so!
Happy wanderings in Echuca and surrounds!