Expert’s guide to The Murray with Lauren Mathers
Murray River local Lauren Mathers, her husband Lachlan and their children Lucy, Frida and George are the family behind Bundarra Berkshires Free Range Pork on the outskirts of Barham.
Your farm is located in Barham, in the western Murray. What are some great things for families to do on the water here?
Barham is a beautiful launch-pad for kayaking on a quiet part of the river; we do this all the time, and the kids love it, as it’s not busy. There are no paddle-steamers or water-skiers, so you can just ease upstream and enjoy wide, still stretches of water.
Bundarra Berkshires is one stop on the Backroads Trail, a self-guided food and wine route through the region. What are other highlights?
Restdown Wines is an awesome vineyard in the middle of nowhere at Caldwell, west of Deniliquin. It’s so unexpected – you go under a sandhill to reach their cellar door. We taste organic wine here and have a local platter, and the kids play croquet and bocce and explore the signposted wetlands, discovering rare birds and lizards. Also on the trail is Pacdon Park, where you can pick up British-style smallgoods and pork pies, and The Timbercutter, a great cafe and restaurant right on the edge of the river in Mathoura.
What are some great local Murray spots that visitors may not know about?
The Narrows at the Barmah Choke, Mathoura, is a pretty special place. This is where the Murray changed course about 500 years ago, and the Earth tilt is visible – it created lakes and a tiny channel through the Barmah-Millewa forest. The landscape around our farm is so flat, then you arrive at The Narrows and it’s another world – rolling sand hills, immense reed beds and wildlife everywhere. Another secret spot that’s great for kids is Pollack Swamp, a 10,000-year-old Aboriginal village, with middens [ancient piles of shells and bones] and significant archaeological sites.
What’s the best way for families to stay cool?
My kids are all water-skiers, and love hitting the Edward River at Deniliquin. You can water-ski and water-tube and hire floats. The other reason it’s popular is that it has wide stretches of water and huge beaches, uncommon in these parts. The best place for a splash about is McLean Beach, on a river bend just north of town.
What’s a great place for families to stay?
The BIG4 Deniliquin Holiday Park is brilliant. Kids can ride their bikes around the well-sealed tracks (you can also hire bikes), cabins are up on stilts overlooking the river, and there’s a splash park and huge swimming pool for when the kids are sick of the river. It’s the kind of place you don’t worry about letting your kids run amok for a day. Plus, it’s a really pretty setting with cheeky possums and kookaburras that make a lot of noise.