A weekend in Echuca Moama will transport you back in time, to a picturesque region set upon the mighty Murray River, complete with original Paddlesteamers! In fact, it is home to the biggest Paddlesteamer fleet in the world! Echuca Moama is a hidden gem of regional Australia and easily reached within a couple of hours drive from Melbourne. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore the Aussie bush!
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A Weekend in Echuca Moama
How To Get To Echuca Moama
Whilst you can reach Echuca Moama by public transport we recommend driving as some of the hidden gems require going slightly off the beaten track.
To get there from Melbourne is an easy 2 and a half hours drive along the Northern Highway, whilst from Sydney, it will take you about 8 and a half. Just plug Echuca into your Maps app, put on some of your favourite tunes, crack open the snacks and commence your road trip! Make sure to stop into Heathcote on the way, it’s a quaint little town that you’ll drive right through and is a good spot to grab a meal at the brewery in the main street!
By Public Transport
If public transport is your only option, no worries you can quite easily walk. With the towns of Echuca and Moama divided by the river and a big bridge connecting them, wherever you stay you should be able to walk wherever you need across the towns. There is however also a public bus system to get around the region if need be.
From Melbourne, take a direct V/Line train from Southern Cross Station to Echuca. Services operate once daily so be sure to check out the times.
For further info and the timetable click here.
When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Echuca Moama?
Any weekend in Echuca Moama can be a good one, with advantages any time, with each season offering totally different experiences. Spring and Summer are definitely the prime times to go though! It’s usually a couple of degrees warmer in summer and a couple cooler in winter.
Spring: In our opinion the ideal time to visit. Crisp mornings and beautiful sun-filled days make it ideal without all the summer crowds. Plus being spring there will be an abundance of wildlife, birds and wildflowers throughout the region. It’s also not too cold to swim in the water without dying.
Summer: Clear skies 95% of the time means sun-drenched days. Average temperature highs are 30 degrees, though 40 degree plus days are a regular summer event. The river becomes an absolute hive of activity with many people out enjoying the water. This is peak season though so you will find many of the more popular areas seriously crowded.
Autumn: Autumn can provide often provide great weather and being a shoulder season there are usually good deals to be had from accommodation providers.
Winter: Usually, it will be pretty chilly in Echuca Moama in Winter. The river will often start the morning with a layer of mist around it and the region takes on a whole new feel! There’ll be fewer crowds and cafes and pubs will have toasty warm fires. Rain and cloud bound days though are a possibility so be aware that your perfect sunrise shoot may take a few attempts. The river will be very very cold though so any watersports will probably be out of the question.
It is an extremely popular summer holiday destination with many camping along the river as a yearly tradition. If possible, try to avoid travelling during school holidays or on long weekends as it will be extremely busy, meaning crowded attractions and jacked up pricing! Regardless of when you go though one thing is certain, you will have a great weekend in Echuca!
The Best Things to Do In Echuca Moama
You might hear ‘Echuca Moama’ and think it’s all about the Murray River, but there’s actually so much more to the region. You’ll easily be able to fill a weekend in Echuca and be spreading the good word about the region after!
All Aboard a Paddle Steamer
What better way to check out the regions main attraction, the Murray River, than by cruising down it in an authentic Paddle Steamer! Back in the 1800’s Echuca was actually Melbourne’s third-largest port after Melbourne and Sydney, and thankfully the Paddlesteamers have stood the test of time and remained. What more could you want than to sip your morning coffee with some scones whilst slowly chugging along the Murray.
Ollie LOVED our trip on the PS Emmylou. Mainly because he could see the steam engine chugging away just like a steam train. Our journey took just over an hour which we feel was enough to really get a feel for the area and showcase just how impressive the river is. They give a running commentary on all the history and going-ons of the river and we learnt a lot. There are however many different options across a range of boats, with some offering lunches, dinners or even overnight stays. A weekend in Echuca is not complete with at least going down to the port and seeing these grand boats choofing down the river.
Walk The Horseshoe Lagoon
Horseshoe Lagoon is well worth a visit. Just over the bridge on the Moama side, you’ll find this fantastic boardwalk that meanders through the wetland and popping out at a viewing platform of the Murray River. It’s a nice and easy walk that totally immerses you in nature. It’s the perfect spot to relax at the end and watch the paddle steamers choof on past. We were lucky enough to be in town during their annual Moama Lights, a sound a light show that lights up the Aussie bush and river – absolutely incredible!!
Take a Trip to Cactus Country
Ok, so it’s not technically in Echuca and actually an hour away, but you can’t come this far from Melbourne and not visit Cactus Country. We all thought it was one of the most unique and awesome tourist attractions we have been to, you could honestly think you have teleported to Mexico. Over 12 acres of farmland has been converted into a unique desert landscape with windy walking trails throughout over 4,000 species of cactus! They come in all kinds of funky shapes and sizes (some are enormous!). Throughout the garden, there are little Mexican gnomes and buildings Latin American adding to the vibe.
Whilst you are there make sure to grab a bite to eat from the authentically Mexican style restaurant, after travelling to Mexico a few years ago – it seriously reminded me of it. We indulged in a huge nachos with a side of Corona and Frozen Margarita. The real treats however are the cactus cake and cactus ice cream, made from the insides of one of the cactuses, and honestly, they tasted amazing, who would have thought! You can even buy a souvenir cactus for your garden from the nursery.
Step Back in Time Exploring the Port of Echuca
The Port of Echuca area feels as if time has forgotten it. With a dirt road, horse-drawn carts, original buildings and the massive wooden wharf you will really feel as if you have transported back to the 1800s. In the 1870s the Port of Echuca was the third-largest in Australia, third to Sydney and Melbourne. It’s really neat just walking around here and there are a lot of good photo opportunities. Whilst you are there, the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre is open to visitors for a small fee to learn all about the history of the paddle steamers, the Murray River and Echuca itself.
Sample the Food and Drink at the Cafes and Local Vineyards or Breweries
If wining and dining is your thing, Echuca Moama has you covered. The country folk certainly know how to produce good food and drink. All along the main street, you will find trendy cafes and brunch spots, as well as a lot of pubs offering up good feeds. If gin is your thing, you’ll find the Echuca Distillery amongst the Port of Echuca. But the real treat is the nearby wineries, there’s even a paddle steamer cruise that takes you right to one! We spent our Sunday afternoon at Cape Horn Winery where we had wood-fired pizzas, tasty wines, and live music whilst overlooking the Murray River amongst the vines, bliss! (They even had a kid’s playground).
Our top recommended wineries are:
- Cape Horn Winery
- Morrisons Winery in Moama
- St Annes Winery
- Old School Winery and Meadery
Have Fun with Science
Ollie had soo much fun here, he didn’t stop running around for at least two hours, it was awesome watching his brain ticking. TwistED Science features over 20 interactive activity stations that help convey a huge range of scientific knowledge. With a focus on trial and error and your own experimentation, you’ll be totally immersed and have a lot of fun. There’s a virtual reality climbing wall, reaction speed tests, virtual reality stations, and lots of spinning, jumping, flying, buzzing, and more! There is even a working beehive and a whole range of amazing insects. You can even (if you dare) try eating some locally grown bugs and get an ‘I ate a bug’ sticker! Not sure if the sticker was worth eating a mealworm or ants for though, but glad we did it!!
Get on the Water!
The Murray is famous for its water activities, and whether your super active or a bit more leisurely, there’s something for everyone. In summer you’ll find loads of people waterskiing, canoeing and stand up paddleboarding. All of which can be organised through various local operators which we have linked.
For a slower pace, why not just cruise the river for an afternoon on a Pontoon Boat. This way you can find your own special spot, park up and soak up the surroundings whilst enjoying your own packed picnic.
Then again, why not go even slower and live like some of the locals by hiring a houseboat for the weekend. Some of these boats may not look much from the outside but are massive and equipped with all of the creature comforts you could want for a weekend on the water.
If you and the kids really want to burn some energy out, get on over to the Gravity Shack. A massive place full of interconnected trampolines with plenty of room to finesse your acrobatic performances.
If land-based jumping isn’t your thing how about a ninja warrior obstacle course at Aqua Island. This huge floating obstacle course complete with slides, runways, jumping pillows and bouncers will have all members of the family grinning from ear to ear.
The Great Aussie Beer Shed
What’s more Aussie than a shed full of 20,000 cans of beer? This Great Aussie Beer Shed is a museum full of all sorts of Aussie beer history, showcasing everything from cans to tap tops, barrels, signs, equipment and machinery. It’s also home to a heap of other Aussie history items and well worth a visit if you are into your history..or beer!
The Silo Art Trail
Silo Art has become a big thing out here and a good way of bringing tourism to some of the smaller towns. Just 20 minutes from Echuca is Rochester, which is known for the part it plays in the trail. The scale of the artwork is seriously impressive and well worth a visit on your way through. Who knows you might even decide to follow the 200km art trail to the 8 scattered silos.
Pick Yourself Some Strawberries
For something different, why not pick your own strawberries at The Strawberry Pick. It’s $3 entry and then you either purchase a 500g ($6) or 1kg ($12) for your picked strawberries. Best of all you can even sample them as you pick them. There’s also a done-up caravan selling strawberry treats and coffees.
Get on your Bike
Being relatively small Echuca Moama is the perfect place to ‘get on your bike’. That and there are various purpose-built bike tracks mountain biking trails. The most recommended being the seven-kilometer long ‘Five Mile’ trail, featuring a mix of fast and rolling terrain with features such as wall rides, drops and flowing bridges. There is also a skills area, a pump track and a well-stocked inventory of berms, jumps and rollers.
Green Pedal Cycle will have you covered for bicycle hire – both electric and people-powered! They also operate various group cycling tours. If you are here for a weekend in Echuca, then you should definitely get active on a bike to get a feel for the area.
The Best Places To Eat In Echuca Moama
If you have a weekend in Echuca, you are going to be spoilt for choice for being wined and dined. The following are a few of our favourites however also be sure to check out some of the wineries mentioned in the winery section!
A cute vegan cafe on the main street. Everything is plant-based here, and we as carnivores totally loved all the food we had! The cafe has an emphasis on growing, preparing and eating food as it’s supposed to be – without all the nasties but still super tasty. They also have an extensive drinks list with a wide range of unique lattes including mushroom ones! They also have lots of packaged vegan goodies available for sale to take with you.
640 High St, Echuca
Echuca is known for its pubs and the American Hotel is a standout. With knockout food and a great range of beverages, the American is a worthwhile stop for lunch or dinner. We ate outside and it just has a really nice chill atmosphere, they also have great Sunday Sessions with live music.
239-249 Hare St, Echuca
Monkee & Co serve up a range of traditional and fusion Asian dishes from Vietnam, China, Malaysia & Thailand. Monkee & Co is a modern interpretation of the much-loved street vendor food of Asia and brings a new food experience and new food stories, making them so interesting. The style of food is designed to be shared in a fun way – an adaptation of the Asian hawker-style street market food. Shared food and communal dining with close friends and family is very much the way of the Asian community, and this is the major inspiration for the ‘Monkee’ experience.
531 High St, Echuca
Located in the historic High Street of Echuca, Shebani’s taste of the Mediterranean brings the taste and feel of Morocco, Greece, Libya, Egypt, Spain, Italy and Turkey for you to enjoy right here on the Murray. Dine inside surrounded by the Mediterranean inspired décor, stunning Moroccan tiled counter, tajines, colourful crockery and cosy, cushioned seating. Alternatively dine alfresco in the garden terrace courtyard or street side with the sounds of Echuca’s paddle steamers whistling in the background.
535 High St, Echuca
In the heart of Echuca, this iconic landmark offers the perfect, unique and exclusive restaurant to enjoy beautiful dining with family and friends. The old brick five-storey former flour mill built in 1881 bestows the most sensational atmosphere to set the scene for any day or evening! With its timberwork and it’s brickwork is a gorgeous old utilitarian building is full of charm, with plenty of history and makes the perfect setting for enjoying a glass or two of wine.
2 Nish St, Echuca
Echuca Moama has lots of accommodation options to choose from, many of which are motels and motor inns. So we have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay. See the list of accommodations below that we personally recommend for a weekend in Echuca:
Luxury: Quest Echuca
- Quest Echuca is where we stayed and it was absolutely perfect for our stay. We had a spacious fully self-contained apartment complete with kitchen, laundry and balcony. This place was super modern inside and spick and span clean. They offer studios, 1, 2 & 3 bedroom apartments. It’s just moments walk from the port and main street of Echuca.
Click Here to check rates and availability.
Midrange: CocknBull Boutique Hotel Echuca
- Beautifully positioned along the banks of the Campaspe River in the historic port precinct of Echuca, The CocknBull Boutique Hotel is a luxurious home away from home. Fabulous restaurants, cafes, bars and the mighty Murray with its fleet of world famous paddle steamers are only a short stroll away. The CocknBull Hotel offers five perfectly appointed self-contained boutique apartments. An 11m solar heated pool and tranquil courtyard garden overlook the river.
Click Here to check rates and availability.
Budget: Campaspe Lodge
- The Accommodation Suites known as Campaspe Lodge are located at the rear of The Echuca Hotel. In all, there are 12 motel units, including one 2 bedroom fully self-contained unit. Campaspe Lodge has 5 Queen suites with include a queen and a single bed and private bathroom. For a special getaway, treat yourself to one of 6 luxurious River View King Suites, featuring both a king and single bed, plasma TV, microwave and internet facilities overlooking the Campaspe River!
Click Here to check rates and availability.
For all other places to stay on the Mornington Peninsula, Click Here to search on Booking.com
We also highly recommend searching for homes on Airbnb. If you have been living under a rock, here’s a link to sign up for Airbnb that will automatically give you $55 off your first booking, whatever and wherever that may be.
Have you visited the Echuca Moama? What did you think? Do you have any questions in planning your own weekend in Echuca?