19 October 2017
Australia’s paddle-steamer capital, the twin towns of Echuca and Moama are rich in riverboat heritage, tasty food and wine, and towering river red gums. With a rich history and impressive fleet of paddle-steamer boats (the largest in Australia), this is a pleasant country escape at any time of year. Here are some great things to do during a visit to Australia’s paddle-steamer capital.
Don’t let the cider-drinkers in your group be put off by the name— the Great Aussie Beer Shed & Heritage Farm Museum is a unique collection of items from a number of Australia’s greatest pastimes. Housed within a massive tin shed, the museum boasts a huge collection of Australian memorabilia, farming implements, and restored horse-drawn carriages, among many other things. Of course, it also features lots of beer-making machinery and around 4000 different beer steins and 17,000 beer cans from Australia around the world. Take a tour of the shed with its famously friendly owner, Neil, who delights in sharing his passion with audiences of all ages. To top it all off, the shed is a fully licensed venue, so those who have worked up a thirst during the tour can reward themselves with an ice-cold beverage, too.
Get to know Echuca by wandering through this open-air museum which documents the town and region’s vibrant history. The exhibition includes video presentations and historical items, while the guided tours (included in the cost of entry) allow visitors to experience what Echuca was like in its heyday. Thrillseekers can also take an After Dark tour by lantern light, with the option of having dinner at the historic Star Hotel. Those looking for a complete experience can also book a Heritage Package, which includes a paddle-steamer cruise and admission to several of Echuca’s top attractions, including the National Holden Museum and the Great Aussie Beer Shed.
Just 15-20 minutes from the centre of town is Billabong Ranch, a fun-filled destination for the whole family. The trail rides here are a major attraction, and they’re suitable for both experienced and inexperienced riders. There are also pony rides on offer for the little ones, as well as a range of other activities to suit different interests. Take on the obstacle course, try your hand at rock climbing or ten pin bowling, and make some new friends at the animal nursery. The archery and mini-golf courses also make for great entertainment during wet or windy weather, so you can have a great time at Billabong Ranch come rain or shine.
No visit to Echuca would be complete without jumping aboard one of its famous paddle-steamers. Enjoy the captain’s commentary as you cruise down the Murray River and soak up the country scenery. There are a number of tour companies operating out of the port, each offering a range of options. Book your seat on a lunchtime cruise to enjoy the sights along with a sit-down meal, or choose a dinner cruise to finish your time in Echuca by watching the sunset over the Murray.
Visitors might be surprised to learn that Echuca is home to the largest one-make car museum in Australia. The National Holden Museum is an ode to the institution and legacy left behind by James Holden, who started manufacturing his iconic cars back in 1856. The collection includes a changing display of more than 40 fully restored Holden vehicles, from early models and rare prototypes to newer models and concept cars. The museum isn’t just for Holden fans, though; you’ll also discover how airbags, suspension and other motoring technologies have evolved to exist as they do today.