The Murray River is Australia’s longest single river, stretching 2,700 kilometres across three states. It was inhabited by Aboriginal people for thousands of years and after the Europeans settlement, it was travelled by some of the country’s earliest explorers and by the late 1800s, it was a bustling trading route.
Today, the mighty and magnificent Murray River is one of the most exciting and epic road trips you can go on in Australia. Expect to be greeted by plenty of activity and diversity along the way. Immerse yourself in lush, natural landscapes, quaint country towns, rich history, foodie finds and delicious wines dotted throughout your journey. Now, if you’re ready, all that’s left to do is book a hire car and explore this list of must-see spots we’ve curated for you.
Located on a sweeping bend on the Murray River, Renmark is the perfect place to start your journey as you discover an abundance of history, easy access to the river, tracks, trails and tempting eats all in this inviting town. Start your day at Arrosto Coffee then, get your first taste of nature with a kayak hire or tour and explore the riverbanks.
For a quiet yet gorgeous afternoon, drive over to Rustons Rose Garden - Australia’s largest rose garden, which also houses a distillery showcasing handcrafted gins. If you’re after more creative and crafted local spirits, head over to 23rd Street Distillery where you’ll find a range of gins, whiskeys, vodkas, rum and ouzo ready to tease and tempt your palate. Find your new favourite sip here and pair it with fresh and authentic wood-oven pizzas served at The Distillery Restaurant. If spirits are not your drink of choice, Renmark is also home to the Wilkadene Woodshed Brewery where you can create your own picnic platter or bring your own barbecue goods as you enjoy local ciders, sours, ale and stouts in a relaxed and picturesque setting.
Next on the list is Mildura. Just a short 1 hour 30 minute drive in your hire car from Renmark, make Perry Sandhills your first stop. Here you’ll witness 822 acres of large sand dunes with striking patterns, ripples and formations that are as mesmerising as they are mind-blowing. It is said that these sandhills formed approximately 40,000 years ago after an ice age and remains of giant mega-fauna including kangaroos, lions and emus have been found here. From here, head back into Mildura and stop at Nash Lane for some excellent eats or Mildura brewery for a casual lunch paired with local beers. In the evening, take a short 18-minute drive to Red Cliffs Lookout for a stunning sunset view. If you’re looking to indulge during your trip, Stefano’s Restaurant is one you don’t want to miss. Traditional, rustic and full of authentic Italian notes, it’s worth the splurge.
As you meander your way to the charming city of Swan Hill, we recommend a detour to Lake Tyrell, a 120,000 year old lake with a unique salt formation and breathtaking scenery. From the lake, make your way to the iconic Pioneer Settlement, just five minutes from Swan Hill’s vibrant CBD. Set on the banks of the Little Murray River, the Pioneer Settlement takes you back in time as it tells the story of the Murray River complete with horse-drawn carriages, blacksmiths, shops and staff dressed in costumes of the period. While you’re in the area, the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery is only a minute-drive away and is a must-visit. If you’re looking to venture your way out of the city, enjoy a breezy 30-minute drive in your hire car to Andrew Peace Wines, a third-generation family-owned winery featuring award-winning wines nurtured by the rich Murray River bank soil.
Bursting with history, the twin towns of Echuca Moama are nestled on the Murray River offering plenty of sights, scenes and activities that take you back in time but this isn’t a destination that’s stuck in the past. Here you’ll also discover remarkable riverside restaurants, wine bars, bakeries, cafes and pubs that will leave you spoilt for choice. One of the must-visit spots include Morrisons Riverview Winery that features fine wine paired with some of the best regional produce. If you’re leaning towards small-batch ales and ciders, you’ll also find 1710 Brew Co on site. With this location being Australia’s paddlesteamer capital, you’ll have to get on board the iconic PS Emmylou - the world’s only wood-fired cruising paddle steamer that takes passengers through some of the most pristine ecological forests as it travels along the Murray River to world heritage wetlands and the world’s largest red gum forest.
Two cities in two different states separated geographically by the Murray River, Albury and Wodonga are the perfect spots for the last leg of your trip. Here you can canoe the Murray River, enjoy a swim or a leisurely stroll along the serene Wagirra Trail. There are plenty of places along the trail to stop for a picnic or to enjoy the view but the must-do activity here is the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk. Discover 15 sculptures by Aboriginal artists that each tell First Nation stories and the significance of each piece. For more of nature, visit the award-winning Albury Botanic Gardens that’s right in the heart of Albury. First built over 100 years ago, the grounds are the perfect space to wander and meander for a few hours. For a dose of art, head over to the Murray Art Museum Albury where you’ll also find Canvas Eatery to please the palate.
While there’s plenty to ease into between these two cities, there’s plenty more for the adventurous at Lake Hume. Just a short 15-minute drive in your hire car will take you to the picturesque site where you’ll be greeted by an impressive body of water, mountain views and vast parklands.
The Murray River Drive has plenty to offer its travellers, no matter what sort of holiday you’re after. Take your time and amble through the sites and trails, stop for a local brew and delicious produce or for those who want to see and do it all, create an itinerary with spots you have to hit and do it all effortlessly in a handy hire car with Thrifty.