Despite being over a 2.5-hour drive, Echuca and the Murray River or 'Tongala' as it's known by the traditional owners the Yorta Yorta people still remains as one of Melbourne's most loved regional escapes.
Resting atop the border to New South Wales, Echuca is a natural wonder with its various waterways, its lush and expansive bush, Echuca and the Murray region's bountiful lands has led to the area being referred to as the 'food bowl of Victoria', supplying some of the state's finest produce.
Whatever your speed, be it waterskiing down the river, or slowly pacing downstream on one of the Echuca Paddlesteamers, this spot is quick to charm.
Here's your guide to Echuca in 2023:
Echuca's Best Cafes And Restaurants:
Housed in a 100-year-old former flour mill, Echuca Distillery is continuing the legacy of the historical space with a new age of spirits. Imbued with native ingredients, the proudly Victorian label distils an array of small-batch gin, vodka and even vermouth, you can drop by and sample the goods on-site as well as load up on a selection of small plates and snacks at Bar Lee.
Morrison's Winery & Restaurant
Morrison's has been serving up some of Echuca's best wine, after 30 years in the region, the vineyards have yielded a slew of different drops from a big and bold shiraz to a more playful Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay.
Just a stone's throw from the river the venue is a welcome getaway and the in-house restaurant explores the top-shelf produce of the region with a myriad of contemporary Australian dishes.
The Sweet Meadow
Encompassing a completely plant-based menu, The Sweet Meadow is the Echuca cafe making noise with genre-bending thick red velvet pancakes hefty lemon curd French toast, thick focaccias and more.
Situated right on High Street the vegan cafe has become a mainstay with its flavoursome creations from brunch options, a plethora of smoothies and juices as well as desserts like the Bicoff cheesecake and coffee from Allpress.
Ticking over 20 years in the town, the popular Bakery empire's outpost on a corner of High Street Echuca is one of the most beloved spots by locals and visitors alike. Here you've got all the favourites from the absolutely smashing Beechworth steak pie to the country chicken and leek number as well as the revolutionary vanilla slice.
The American Hotel
With a lineage that dates back to the gold-rush era, The American Hotel which rests inside a 160yo building on Hare Stree is one of the oldest pubs in Echuca. Whether you're in the sprawling beer garden or tucked away in the lounge you're in for a good time.
On the menu is the American-style barbecue styling of the in-house restaurant Harry O's which supplies a steady flow of slow-cooked beef brisket, short ribs and pulled pork, as well as buttermilk fried chicken, mac n cheese and potato buns.
Things To Do In Echuca
Take a step back in time to the 1800 and 1900s when these majestic cruisers ruled the river for transport. The Echuca Paddlesteamers were used to move supplies up and down the waterways but now they're the ideal way to get to see the sights of the region. Take off from the port early at dawn and watch the sunrise through the bush and light up the river.
The Banyule State Forest Trail Hike
A breezy 6km trail that showcases some of the natural beauty of the bush that's helped establish Echuca as such a desirable escape. The Banyule State Forest loop kicks off right next to the Echuca Visitor Centre and leads you through the gum trees to vistas of the river and crossing from Echuca to Moama.
A staple of the region, The Murray River shines bright every year thanks to the Moama Lights Festival. Taking over Moama's Horseshoe Lagoon, the immersive experience uses sound, light and state-of-the-art installations to celebrate the history and natural beauty of the Echuca-Moama region. This year, there'll also be an ice skating rink for everyone to take a spin on.
The Great Aussie Beer Shed
One for the great lovers of all things ale, The Great Aussie Beer Shed in Echuca is a nostalgic journey through Australia's beer history. With shelves and rafters loaded with the legacy of well-enjoyed tins, beer memorabilia and merchandise, there are over 20,000 cans, as well as antique craft equipment and extremely rare beer artefacts collected over the years.
River House is a charmer that has a lot to love; especially for an Echuca getaway, with the bush and the river at your backdoor, you’re right in the action and surrounded by all kinds of beautiful plants and wildlife. The house has an immaculate fit-out, the sparse white-painted walls are filled with wooden and rattan furnishings, indoor plants and framed prints and artwork, a backdrop you can feel comfortable parking up with a couple of mates and a few good bottles of red.
NRMA Echuca Holiday Park
If you're after an affordable getaway with big community vibes and all the amenities, you can't go past NRMA Echuca Holiday Park. Loaded with plenty of cabins if you prefer to stave out the natural elements as well as powered and non-powered sites, this Echuca Caravan Park doesn't skip a beat.
Moama House Boats
Okay so not technically in Echuca, but put postcode semantics aside because parking up on the Murray River is about as special as it gets. The Moama House Boat is a simple stay, but it's the landscape and proximity to water that's key—you've even got the ability to make your way up and down the river.
On board, there's a full kitchen, an outdoor bbq patio section to soak up the Echuca weather or tuck away in the cosy bedroom with a double bed to stave off the elements.
Image credit: VisitVictoria (supplied)
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