I recently managed to get a day off work and snuck across to the twin river towns of Echuca / Moama for a short break. These towns not only showcase a bygone era but also caters for the needs of the modern day explorer with good food and wine…..Echuca’s history, growth and development can be traced back to the mid 1800’s when the Murray River was a hive of activity with paddlesteamers plying the river with goods (particularly wool) from inland Australia along the Murray and Darling Rivers. The Port of Echuca became the largest inland Port where it connected to the railway line leading to Melbourne enabling goods from inland Australia to get to both national and international markets.
With the river busy with paddlesteamers going up and down the river it was no wonder that Echuca also became the main ship building centre for the river transport industry. This led to a demand for red gum for use as a timber in wharfs, railway sleepers and as building materials. At its peak it was not unusual for over 1000 logs each week ending up in the dozen or so mills in the area.
It wasn’t until the great depression of the 1890’s and the extension of the railway line into New South Wales that things began to slow down. Together with improvement to road transport the boom in river transport slowly died and eventually became defunct in the 1920’s.
In 1975the Port of Echuca area was declared an historic precinct. Since then the wharf and old buildings have been restored and now are well and truly on the tourism map. Now Echuca and Moama have the largest operating fleet of paddlesteamers in the world with many tours during the day up and down the mighty Murray.
Both Echuca and Moama are now well known for food, wine and boast world class golf courses. In addition the area hosts many events and festivals including:
- Southern 80 ski race held in February each year
- Riverboats music festival held on the 3rd weekend in February each year
- Steam Rally Echuca held on the Queens Birthday weekend in June
- Echuca Moama Winter Blues Festival held on the last weekend in July each year
Our stay this year was at Perricoota Vines Resort in Moama in the perricoota wine district – close to St. Annes winery and Rich River Golf Club. Check them out here: www.perricootavines.com
Echuca and Moama are approximately a two and a half hour drive from Melbourne.
Bus / Train: Both Echuca and Moama can be accessed by both bus and train.
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