It stretches for over 2,500 kms, starts its journey from the Australian Alps and ends at the mouth of the Southern Ocean in South Australia. Almost 2000 km of it is navigable, making it the third longest navigable river on the planet, with only the Amazon and Nile rivers behind it.
The Mighty Murray. It’s Australia’s longest river and, not surprisingly, has become a favourite camping destination for many Aussies, us included. Over the years we’ve camped along many of its shores and recently, in our new off-road van, we enjoyed another part of it.
Cobram Regional Park
This is where we recently spent a weekend in our new Journey Outback, her maiden voyage.
This tranquil spot is just three hours from home, in the Cobram Regional Park which spans the Victorian border and Barooga in the Murray Valley National Park NSW. It’s an area that encompasses many sandy river beaches and free camp spots.
There’s places like Bourkes Bend, Scott’s Beach, Old Toms and Dead End camp on the Victorian side. Across the river on the NSW side there’s Quicks Beach and more than enough space for everyone to have their own piece of river paradise.
We set up the new van at Horseshoe Bend, a peaceful spot to immerse ourselves in river life … and lots of ducks. Brilliant!
I love this area. It’s home to paddle steamers that cruise the Murray and loads of music festivals at various times of the year. In June you can combine the two with a blues cruise on board one of the steamers.
There are plenty of caravan parks on both sides of the border. In July we stayed at Moama Waters for the Winter Blues festival, our very last trip in the Dove. We packed up in torrential rain which proved pretty memorable.
In the latest (Nov/Dec) edition of On the Road Magazine my story on the Winter Blues Festival appears, as well as my caravan park review on Moama Waters.
Mildura, at six hours from home, is a bit more of a hike but generally warmer than the rest of the state. Basking in a semi Meditteranean climate there’s lots of appealing reasons to visit … glorious renowned restaurants like Stefan’s, freshly grown produce, events all year round and an easy pace of life that makes me think I could easily live here.
One of our earliest camping trips was here with our beloved Bluey, pre kids. Years later we went hot air ballooning here, seeing the river from a completely different perspective. So many memories.
All going well, we’ll be heading up there again in a few weeks, en route to Mungo National Park, making new memories.
Barmah Forest and Mathoura
Peaceful fishing, relaxing by campfires and searching for brumbies (for our horse mad young daughter) are memories that stand out from our visits to the Murray near Mathoura and the nearby Barmah Forest.
Brumbies have lived in the Barmah forest since the beginning of last century. The issue of culling them is a controversial one that continues today. Just don’t bring it up around my daughter!
In here you’ll find the world’s largest River Red Gum forest adjoining the river. There’s camp grounds, sandy beaches, lagoons and prolific birdlife.
This is the Paringa Bridge in South Australia, which spans the Murray River in Renmark. It was built in 1927, only one of two bridges that open in the state. It opens to let vessels through at various times of the day. Our campsite was on the other side of the bridge where we stayed whilst travelling home from the Eyre Peninsula.
During the day the river was full of activity – water skiers, jet skis and house boats. At night time the mood was more subdued, quiet and peaceful as river life slowed and we walked along the pedestrian track of the bridge, where once a railway line saw trains transporting freight.
One of the highlights of our stay was an awesome ride on Elka the air boat, gliding through the swamps and lagoons of the area. Feeling immersed in nature always fuels the senses and is the perfect way to explore the waterways.
We spent four hot summer days and nights at Walwa Riverside Park and I remember most of our time was spent in the water. Located on the Murray between Albury and Corryong (another favourite place) Walwa is lush, peaceful and surrounded by rolling green hills.
One night a storm came through, turning the sky black. Harry, who was sleeping inside the car, in his angst, chewed through the interior lining. When we realised and got him out, he was spooked and bolted, and there began our midnight river search.
The sites at the Cohuna Waterfront Holiday Park are great value but that’s not what I remember most about this place.
When I think of Cohuna I’m reminded, embarrassingly, of the swing that sent me flying into the river, fully clothed. I’m not sure what I was thinking but everyone else got a good laugh.
Despite, or perhaps because of my jungle swinging antics, it was a relaxing, memorable trip spent with good friends, one filled with lots of fun and laughter. At the end of the day I guess that’s what camping, and life, is all about.
Oh yes, the Murray has many moods … just like us. She can be calm and tranquil. She can be playful. And she can be deep and forbidding. She’s a river to treat with respect.
I’ve barely skimmed the surface of her length and breadth but one thing’s for certain, there’s never a shortage of places to play and stay along her shores. Half the joy is discovering them, just as we Journey and discover the different phases of our life.
Here’s to embracing all of our moods, going with the flow of life and enjoying every new adventure and discovery along the way.
Happy travels everyone.
In love and light
“Think like a river and leave a legacy of beauty and life. Flow with the current and float with joy and peace.”
(Photo taken earlier this year at Lake Albert, the Coorong, part of the Murray-Darling basin)