River swims, local produce and beers in historic pubs. Our guide to Echuca.
Located in northern Victoria on Yorta Yorta country, Echuca is the Aboriginal word for “‘meeting of the waters”. Sitting at the intersection of the Murray and Campaspe rivers, the historic town sits on the Victorian side of the border, directly opposite Moama in New South Wales.
Those rivers are a big part of the Echuca-Moama region’s attractions. You can rent a houseboat to sleep in, test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard, or take a trip on a vintage paddle steamer to make the most of your time on the Murray. If the current is gentle, you can even jump in and swim from one state to the other.
There’s also plenty to see and do on land. With a range of dining options focused on fresh local produce, most venues also do locally made beers and wines. There’s also a vegan cafe to counterbalance those country-sized steaks, as well as old-school country-style scones, jam and cream.
Getting there is an adventure in itself. A three-hour trip up the Hume from Melbourne, Echuca is surrounded by dozens of interesting little country towns worthy of their own exploration.
Welcome to Echuca
From publican-raised steak to a vegan cafe and cream-laden scones in between, eating is practically a sport in this town.
There used to be 100 pubs in Echuca. Now the liquid offerings have diversified, and you can bookend beer with local coffee and wine.
Swim, paddle or ride down the Murray to experience the river like locals do, or head to the fields to pick your own produce.
The Strawberry Pick
Just a 10-minute drive from the town centre is a lush field of green, bordered by dry hay fields. This is The Strawberry Pick, which agronomists-turned-farmers Matt and Wayne started in late 2016. Here you can pick your own strawberries (and eat a couple along the way), with bonus cobs of corn in the summertime. For those who’d rather not get their hands dirty, you can also pick up a pre-picked punnet or take home a bundle of the farmgate’s jam, strawberry balsamic glaze, strawberry dessert sauce or ice-cream. Open daily from 9am to 5pm, spring through autumn.
Swim at a river beach
Echuca is a town of rivers, which means it’s also a town of river beaches. Drive or cycle along the water’s edge and you’ll spot many a sandy patch to set down your towel and go for a refreshing dip. You’ll regularly see locals happily floating along on their flamingo- and donut-shaped inflatables. Beware though, the current can be strong. The river is also a popular spot to drag out the dusty kayak, or hire a canoe or paddle-board if your preferred pace is faster than chill.
Echuca’s port boasts the largest collection of paddlesteamers in the world. The PS Adelaide was built in 1866 and is the world’s oldest, still-operating, wooden-hulled paddlesteamer. You can take a ride on this old girl, or try the PS Emmylou or PS Canberra. Cruises leave four to six times each day and run for about an hour. You can opt for longer lunchtime or dinnertime cruises, or even lodge overnight on one of these historic vessels.
Liam “Rabb” Guinan started Echuca Stand Up Paddle in March 2015 as a hobby project, but it was so popular it became a full-time gig during the warmer seasons. To get in on the SUP action, all you’ll need is a bit of balance and a sense of adventure. You can take beginner classes, or head straight out on the river, taking in the old historic port sights as you drift along. Rabb and the gang will even shuttle you from the town centre upstream, so you can glide down with the current. SUP yoga classes are starting soon too.
From a floating hotel to a residence surrounded by farmland, the accommodation here is all sorts of idyllic. Check out even more places to stay in Echuca.
Summer days by the Murray River
Make the most of the warm balmy weather and clock some solid hours by the river. There’s plenty of hearty food and locally made beer and wine to keep you well fuelled between water activities.