In between Mildura and Swan Hill, the Murray River twists and winds its way past native forests, food bowl communities, lively country towns and quiet little hamlets. Let me take you on a journey of discovery and show you what this stretch of the Murray has to offer.
Where are we going?
There are a couple of ways to reach the border towns of Euston and Robinvale from Mildura, either via the Sturt Highway (83km) or taking the Calder to Hattah and turning onto the Hattah-Robinvale Road (140km). If you have the time, why not spend a couple of days exploring Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, it is certainly worthwhile.
Having found accommodation in Euston after rain marred my river camping options, it was nice to see the “Robinvale: Where the River’s Fun” sign as I crossed the Murray River. It has been decades since I last visited Robinvale as a child. What I remember is staying on a nearby farm, chasing emus down in the back paddock, sitting in the back of a clapped-out ute and experiencing the taste of witchety grubs for the first time.
Robinvale and Euston evolved when irrigation was introduced to assist the agricultural district. It’s now a real food bowl settlement with a diverse multicultural population due to seasonal work requirements. You’ll find a wide variety of fruit and vegetables growing including almonds, olives, grapes (wine and table) and strawberries.
What’s on in Robinvale & Euston?
After a visit to the Robinvale Visitor Information Centre, I was nicely surprised by the number of things to see and do in and around Robinvale and Euston, so much so, I stayed an extra day.
The Euston Weir & Lock 15 is the perfect spot for a picnic with a manicured lawn, BBQ facilities and tables and you can watch the boats pass through the lock. If you look closely, you’ll see a zigzag concrete structure on the far side of the weir and that is the Denall Fish Way that allows fish to swim past the weir wall.
Robinvale’s informative river walk begins at the canoe tree near the bridge. This tree is the source of the last canoe made in the Robinvale area. Keep an eye out for the hard-to-miss big windmill erected in 1948 to supply Robinvale with water and enjoy a BBQ at “The Cut”, where Bumbang Island has formed. This island is culturally significant with over 821 registered Aboriginal heritage sites. If you look closely, you’ll spot the remains of a barge across the river in the reeds.
While on the riverwalk, you’ll pass Robinswood Homestead. Constructed in 1926 to replace the original drop-log pine homestead, this was the original home of Robinvale’s founding family, the Cuttle’s. The homestead is open by appointment only.
Next to the Visitor Information Centre is the Rural Life Museum. Open Thursdays and Sundays, the museum houses a collection of relics relating to the early days of settlement, some dating back to the 1880s.
I love searching out great local produce, and I certainly found it at Robinvale Estate Olive Oil. After sampling a selection of tasty olive oils and balsamic glazes, Glenda took me up to the pressing shed to see how chilli infused oil was produced. The air was full of chilli making it difficult to breathe and boy the oil was spicy hot.
It was interesting to discover that Robinvale Organic Wines was one of Australia’s first organic wineries, established in 1976. The Caracatsanoudis family has been producing dual certified organic and bio-dynamic wine for over 30 years, winning many medals for his wines. Make sure you check out winemaker Steve’s range of preservative-free juices too.
There are also a few annual events that raise the “fun” stakes:
- Mallee Almond Blossom Festival occurs annually in August illustrating the products, people and art of the Mallee District.
- The Great Murray River Salami Festival has mouths watering in October.
- Robinvale Euston 80 Ski Race roars to life in March, flooding the towns with spectators and competitors each year.
Nice day for a drive
The Murray Valley Highway begins at Euston when it meets the Sturt Highway and ends 663km later near Toowong. The 133km section from Robinvale to Swan Hill has more to see than you realise. The distance is easily covered in a day, including all the stops. Take your time and really enjoy this stretch of highway, especially with so many things to see.
About 50km from Robinvale is the turnoff to the Murrumbidgee River Junction. It’s reached via a 4WD track that leads you to where the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers meet. Due to recent rain, the track was impassable.
West of Piangil, you’ll find “The Flume”, an old aqueduct constructed between 1914 and 1917 to supply water to farms. A good navigator is needed to find your way to the aqueduct on Flume Road and some of the roads are unsealed.
For a scenic drive along the river, check out Nyah-Vinifera Park. This 10km drive along the River Track from Wood Wood to Nyah follows the Murray River with campsites, fishing, bushwalking and 4WDing. The track is suitable for 2WD vehicles, but only when conditions are dry.
Get ready to step back in time as you drive down Monash Avenue in Nyah West, a heritage listed town. The old shop fronts will amaze you, be sure to take lots of photos. While you’re there, check out what Farmer Watson has been up to at the Wire Sculpture Park.
About 15km before Swan Hill, take a detour along Speewa Ferry Road and cross the Murray on the Speewa Punt, one of the last remaining punts in Victoria (well technically NSW). Check the link for operating times or you might get caught out.
As you can see, there are plenty of events, activities, food and wine and places to see that make this stretch of the Murray “where the river’s fun”.
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