The Echuca-Moama Visitor Information Centre is located in the old Pump House (1884) which was built to pump water from the river for the steam locomotives, hydraulic wool presses and hydraulic cranes on the wharf. It is situated near the the 4000-ton, 580-metre iron bridge (1875) in a pleasant reserve with a lagoon and billabong and a range of birdlife in the treetops. The centre is open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily, tel: (03) 5480 7555 or free-call (1800) 804 446.
There are some good walking and cycling tracks along the river banks and around town and the information centre will outline the routes for you on a town map.
Port Of Echuca
The old port area is under the supervision of the 'Port of Echuca' which has its headquarters at 101 Murray Esplanade. It is open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily and is responsible for the Wharf Museum Tour which explores the port area, including the old wharf, paddlesteamers and barges, and historic buildings such as the Bridge and Star Hotels, tel: (03) 5482 4248.
Two doors along you can watch a woodturner and blacksmith working in the traditional manner.
A horse-and-carriage service operates along Murray Esplanade aboard immaculately restored buggies and carriages which operate regularly each day.
The Echuca Wharf was originally built from 1865-1867. After extensions in 1877 and 1879 it ended up as a 1.2-km structure with three levels to accommodate the changing level of the river. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of wood, 80% of it was demolished in 1944. There is a vintage train on the adjacent track, which was used to facilitate the exchange of goods at the wharf, as well as cranes and the old cargo shed. The latter now features a video and a diorama which reflect on the port's history and working models which demonstrate how the wharf worked when the boats were in.
There are currently six riverboats operating out of Echuca and offering cruises of various sorts along the Murray.
The P.S. Alexander Arbuthnot (1916), offers one-hour heritage cruises, tel: (03) 5482 4248. The P.S. Canberra (1912), takes visitors on a one-hour cruise with commentary on a daily basis. You can inspect the original steam engine, tel: (03) 5482 2711. The P.S. Emmylou offers 90-minute and overnight cruises on a wood-fired steamer with a la carte dining and a private cabin. The engine dates from 1906, tel: (03) 5480 2237.
The M.V. Mary Ann is a fully-licensed cruising restaurant offering lunch and dinner cruises with commentary, tel: (03) 5480 2200. The P.S. Pevensey (1909-11) was used in the TV mini-series All The Rivers Run. It is used for one-hour heritage cruises, tel: (03) 5482 4248. The P.S. Pride of the Murray (1924) offers one-hour river cruises with commentary on a vintage paddlewheeler, tel: (03) 5482 5244. The P.S. Adelaide (1866) is the third-oldest steam-driven boat in the world. It is moored in the wharf area but is not used for cruises. However, there are occasional barge-towing demonstrations and short excursions.
Echuca Boat and Canoe Hire is located by the boat ramp in Victoria Park (tel: 03 5480 6208) and there are a number of houseboat-hire services in town - Dinky-Di Houseboat Holidays (03 5482 5223), Magic Murray Houseboats (03 5480 6099), Murray River Houseboats (03 5480 2343), Rich River Houseboats (1800 032 643) and Riverina Houseboats (03 9772 9009).
Murray Esplanade Cellars
Opposite the wharf, at the corner of Murray Esplanade and Leslie St, are Murray Esplanade Cellars, located within the old Customs House (1884) which serves as a reminder of the days when the two states were separate colonies. The cellars offer sales and free tastings of local wines and are open daily, tel: (03) 5482 6058.
Sharp's Magic Movie House and Penny Arcade
A few doors north along Murray Esplanade, in what was the old Bond Store (1858), is Sharp's Magic Movie House and Penny Arcade. This unusual attraction recreates the kind of place which was popular with holidaymakers at the turn of the century. There are a huge variety of old penny arcade machines and the proprietors have an interesting collection of old films including old newsreels, shorts and early Australian films. It is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and a ticket is valid all day, tel: (03) 5482 2361.
Another few doors along is the former Star Hotel (1867) which has an underground bar and escape tunnel. The hotel lost its license in 1897 and consequently, although it continued to serve customers, it built a special escape route for drinkers so that they could get away during the police raids which commonly occurred.
Echuca Farm Yard
Adjacent is Echuca Farm Yard which is situated in the old salt factory, where salt from Lake Kunat Kunat was processed from 1870-1920. It offers children the chance to get close to, and feed, a range of farm animals and is open daily, tel: (03) 5480 7334.
At the corner of Murray Esplanade and Hopwood Place is the Bridge Hotel. This two-storey building was erected in 1858 by town founder Henry Hopwood across the way from his punt and pontoon bridge. It has been restored to its original design, including upstairs rooms furnished in period style with an expansive squatter's suite built for the accommodation of wealthy pastoralists. These rooms can be seen as part of the Wharf Museum Tour.
On the other side of Hopwood Place is Hopwood Gardens, a lawned area with picnic and childrens' play facilities. Bullock teams waiting to cross the river on Hopwood's punt once gathered here. Nearby, in Murray Esplanade, is a log buggy which once transported red gum logs from the forests to the local sawmills and, in an adjacent lawned area, the barge Alison (1907).
Courthouse and Museum
On the other side of the gardens is the old courthouse, built as the shire hall in 1872.
Opposite, at the corner of Dickson St and Warren St, is the Echuca Historical Society Museum, housed within the former police station and lock-up (1867). It has old river charts, photographs and other material relating to the river trade, the local timber industry, Henry Hopwood and the town. It is open from 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. on weekdays and from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. on weekends, tel: (03) 5482 4225.
Diagonally opposite, at the corner of Warren and Campbell Sts, is the National Holden Motor Museum which has over 40 immaculately restored Holdens, rare prototypes, historic film footage and souvenirs. It is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5480 2033. On the other side of Campbell St, adjacent the Campaspe River, is the former Saleyards Hotel (1879), now the Cock-and-Bull Restaurant.
Walk back along Warren St and turn right into High St which has a multitude of specialty shops to cater to the tourist trade. On the right-hand side is the former Bank of Victoria (1860), which retains its original safe (it is currently a pancake parlour).
Over the road is the Murray River Aquarium which has a native fish and reptile display, tel: (03) 5480 7388.
World In Wax
A little further along is World in Wax which, in the manner of Madame Tussaud, displays realistic wax effigies of a vast range of notable (and infamous) historic figures. There are also likenesses of monsters for the kids and 30 miniature dioramas. It is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. at 630 High St, tel: (03) 5482 3630.
High St Continued
On the other side of the road are the Shamrock Hotel (1885) and the Echuca Hotel. The latter was erected in 1873 to replace the 1858 original which was built for famous explorer Thomas Mitchell. Turn right into Leslie St and walk along to the banks of the Campaspe. It was here that Hopwood had another of his punts.
Return along Leslie St and turn right, back into High St. To the right are the Classical design of the former Bank of NSW, which was built in 1877 and now privately owned, and a store built by Henry Hopwood which was the first brick building in Echuca (it is now an architect's office).
At High and Radcliffe, to the left, is the former Town Hall Hotel (1860s), now Fiori's Restaurant..
Cross Radcliffe St. To the right are Millewa Chambers, built as a Bond Store in 1878 (now a private residence), and the former Redman's Commercial Hotel (1862), once a staging post for Cobb & Co on their journey to Shepparton. There is a bridal shop on the lower floor.
The library, at High and Heygarth, was built in 1869 as a courthouse. It became the town hall in the 1920s and the library in the 1950s. It is a simple building with decorative brickwork designed by W.C. Vahland who designed some of Bendigo's more imposing buildings.
Cross over Heygarth St. To the left is the Anglican Church (1865) which features a stained-glass window of its sponsor, Henry Hopwood.
Further south, adjacent the primary school at High and Pakenham, is Sims Butter factory, built as a store in the 1860s and now Tangled Garden Bookshop. The school was built in 1872 and was relocated to this spot in 1994.
On the other side of Pakenham St, to the right, is the old Coffee Palace which was one of a chain of Temperance Hotels throughout Victoria. Coaches left here on a daily basis for Bendigo and Melbourne until the railway arrived in 1864. It is now privately owned and has recently been restored.
Walk east along Pakenham St to the Hare St corner. St Andrew's Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church was built in 1889. Diagonally opposite is a marker. The wavy line records the height of the 1870 flood.
Head north along Hare St. At Hare and Percy is St Mary's Catholic Church (1865). The former Union Club Hotel, on the other side of Percy St, was built as the Bank of Australasia in the 1870s (it is now a chemist's). Just along Percy St is the town's oldest church, the Wesleyan (1865), although it has recently been purchased by the Catholic Church who want to demolish it.
Wine Tasting and Sales
At the northern end of Hare St, cross over Radcliffe St to the corner with Murray Esplanade where you will find the Echuca-Moama Wine Centre which has over 110 wines. It is open Wednesday to Sunday and every day in school holidays, tel: (03) 5480 2005.
Echuca Wharf Pottery
At Murray Esplanade and Little Hopwood St is Echuca Wharf Pottery which has hourly pottery demonstrations. It is open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5482 6111.
Old Brothel and Steampacket
Turn into Little Hopwood St. To the left, set furtively back from the road, is that other mainstay of a busy port - the old brothel (1875) which consists of two floors, each with three small rooms. Mannequins are positioned in period dress.
The Steampacket Inn (1860s) is located at the corner of Murray Esplanade and Leslie St.
Echuca Gem Club/Railway Station
Echuca Gem Club has a display of jewellery and rock specimens which can be seen from 1.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. on Saturdays, 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. on Sundays and on school and public holidays, tel: (03) 5482 4642. They are located in the railway station (1879) in Sturt St. The enormous and well-made engine shed (1864-65) serves as a reminder of Echuca's former significance as a railway terminus.
Oz Maze has a large wooden maze built in the shape of Australia which offers the challenge of finding your way through to each capital city. In the centre is an elevated platform (Ayers Rock) from which to regain perspective. The excursion takes about half an hour and is located near the roundabout by the bridge, tel: (03) 5480 2220.
Raverty's Motor Museum
Raverty's Motor Museum is located at the corner of Ogilvie Ave (the Murray Valley Highway) and Mitchell Rd. It has a collection of vintage and classic vehicles, tel: (03) 5482 2730.
Scenic Drive is a loop track which starts near the high school in Crofton St and runs around the perimeter of Victoria Park, at the north-western corner of town. It follows the Campaspe River to its confluence with the Murray where there is a picnic area overlooking the junction. .
The circuit then heads east, hugging the southern bank of the river through a large river bend where there is a billabong to the right and a swimming area. It then return to Crofton St. Victoria Park has a memorial to Hopwood, a caravan park and a boat ramp. Echuca Boat and Canoe Hire is located by the boat ramp in Victoria Park, tel: (03) 5480 6208.
Eastern Riverbank Trek
Another walking-cycling option is to follow the southern bank of the river westwards from the bridge through Banyule Park State Forest and beyond, returning to the information centre via River Ave, Goulburn Rd, Packenham St and Sturt St.
En route there are picnic-barbecue facilities at Bowers Bend and a swimming area. Sawmills, an abbatoir, a tannery and fellmongery, a shipyard and the houses of employees were once situated in this area.
Chambers Bend is the site of the first European habitation, where James Maiden established a punt service c.1845. Today there is a boat ramp. Another way to get there is to follow the graded road that heads north-east off Pakenham St through the forest and then turn right. Sunny Beach is 150 metres downstream at Connors Bend (turn left off the graded road).
Another walking-cycling option is to start at the corner of High and Anstruther Sts. Head west along Anstruther, taking the footbridge over the Campaspe, then follow the western bank of the river as it heads south past the Echuca Golf Course and a picnic-barbecue area, to the Murray Valley Highway.
Billabong Horse Trail Rides operate within the Banyule Park State Forest, tel: (018) 507 828.
Brett Sands Water Ski Resort, tel: (03) 5482 1851 or Southern Cross Water Ski School with fully catered waterski day trips, tel: (03) 5482 6897.
Torrumbarry Weir is a very pretty location within a bushland setting with birdlife, fishing, barbecues, playground equipment and a caravan park. Head north-west along the Murray Valley Highway for about 27 km to a signposted turnoff which is about 4 km past the tiny settlement of Torrumbarry.