On the north bank of the Murray River, just inside New South Wales, Moama is one half of a twin town crossing both the river and the state border.
This puts you as close as can be to Echuca, which emerged as Australia’s largest inland port in the 19th century.
Echuca’s heritage has been meticulously conserved, from its 400-metre wooden wharf to its riverside industry and the largest fleet of paddlesteamers in the world.
You can’t pass up the chance for a cruise on one of these beautiful, wood-fired vessels.
The Murray will be a constant presence during your time in Moama, as you discover stands of ancient river red gums, riverside picnic areas and rambling vineyards that run to the water’s edge.
1. Port of Echuca Discovery Centre
To immerse yourself in the vibrant history of Echuca’s port precinct your first stop has to be this attraction, giving you access to captivating indoor and outdoor displays.
You’ll begin with a high-tech crash course about Australia’s inland waterways, its paddlesteamers and how trade connected Echuca to the wider world.
From there you’ll move onto pieces of riverside industry like a sawmill and working steam engines.
Then comes the full majesty of the wharf, completely restored and labelled with information boards.
There you’ll find the cargo shed, housing yet another compelling museum diving into the world of paddlesteamers and the people who made their living from them.
2. Murray River Paddlesteamers
Echuca’s other signature is its evocative fleet of historic paddlesteamers berthed at the wharf.
And where these beautiful old vessels were the backbone of the town’s economy, they now carry people on sightseeing trips along the Murray.
There are three ships in regular service: The PS Canberra (1913), the PS Pride of the Murray (1924) and the PS Emmylou, which was launched in 1982, but is driven by a restored, wood-fired Marshall & Sons steam engine from 1906. There’s a choice of durations to choose from, and on a typical one-hour trip you’ll hear commentary about the old port and fleet and get to see the engineer stoking the engine with river red gum blocks, while all kids will get the chance to take the wheel for a moment.
3. St Anne Vineyards
This wine producer has been in the business for more than four decades, with vineyards at several locations in Victoria and New South Wales.
St Anne remains a family enterprise, producing Muscat, fortified tawny Ports, robust Shiraz, a crisp Chardonnay and complex Sauvignon Blanc.
You can visit two St Anne locations around Echuca-Moama.
There’s a modern winery right on the Moama bank, with a cellar door built using the traditional rammed earth technique.
You can try the winery’s range, paired with a local cheese platter, while gazing over the vines, and take a walk around the picturesque grounds.
There’s also a St Anne cellar door at the Echuca Port Precinct in a lovely old carriage builder’s workshop.
4. The Great Aussie Beer Shed
A quirky labour of love, this museum is dedicated to iconic Australian products, and will be a nostalgia hit for anyone who has spent any time Down Under.
The showpiece of the Great Aussie Beer Shed is a collection of more than 17,000 beer cans, hoarded from around Australia and all over the world.
These are joined by masses of other beer paraphernalia, including signs, brewery equipment, barrels, tap tops, bottles and handles.
The remainder of the museum is a giant miscellany made up of vintage kitchen and laundry appliances, a Coca-Cola collection and old petrol bowsers.
5. Five Mile Picnic Area
In keeping with the sense of peace and open space on the Moama bank of the Murray there’s a riverside picnic area a short way west of the town.
This belongs to the Murray Valley National Park and is a popular spot to rest in the shade of the towering river red gums, launch a canoe or kayak or cast a line.
There’s also a single-track mountain biking trail, and you’ll be able to bring your dog to the picnic area.
Come February the Southern 80 water ski race gets underway right here on the Saturday, at the start of a 20-kilometre course meandering east to Victoria Park in Echuca.
6. National Holden Motor Museum
The car marque, Holden is an Australian institution, up there with Vegemite and the koala, and has been a way of life for nigh on 80 years.
This museum close to the wharf in Echuca has Holdens going back to the 1940s, but will also fill you in about the company’s mid 19th-century origins in the saddle-making business.
In the collection are some rare models, like an FC converted into a hearse, the first Monaro to roll off the production line and a factory 350 Statesman.
Also on display are unrestored originals, more seldom seen factory optioned cars and several models from the brand’s glory years in the 1960s.
7. Barmah National Park
Up the Murray is a riverside national park home to the largest river red gum forest on the planet, spreading out over some 60,000 hectares.
This species can grow to more than 45 metres tall and is known to live for half a millennium.
In the park borders is a Ramsar wetland, providing a habitat for a rich array of waterbirds.
You can amble among the river red gums, discover historic Aboriginal sites, camp by the water or fish for golden perch and Murray cod.
The banks are lined with sandy beaches where you can swim in the cool waters or launch a canoe for a paddle along this famous watercourse.
8. Billabong Ranch Adventure Park
This attraction just east of Echuca is a working ranch where you can join trail rides in the Riverina area, through red river gum forest in the company of an accredited instructor.
These rides can be one, two or three hours long, leading you along the Goulburn or Murray Rivers, or out to a winery.
Back at Billabong Ranch there’s a lot more going on.
Kids can meet baby animals at the nursery, or go on pony or camel rides, while there’s also a climbing wall, a mini golf course, a lake for pedal-boating, a bungee trampoline and a frisbee golf course.
9. TwistED Science
The south end of the Murray Esplanade is home to a company specialising in whimsical hands-on learning for children and grown-ups.
TwistED Science organises entertaining and educational school visits and parties in and around Melbourne, but in Echuca there’s a permanent attraction where those creative ideas area given free rein.
Here kids can build flying machines, learn about the future of food and construct a virtual river.
One exciting installation is a climbing wall that uses Augmented Reality immersing you in three different interactive video games.
10. Echuca Historical Society Museum
Another way to glimpse life at the port in the 19th century is the local historical society museum opposite the Murray.
This is based in a National Trust police station and lockup going back to 1867, and resting in the shade of mature Moreton fig trees.
The collection goes into the European settlement of the Echuca-Moama area, covering the timber industry and the impact of the railway.
You’ll see preserved costume, household tools and appliances, portraits, industrial machinery, police artefacts and much more.
The society also takes care of the town’s archives, which includes extensive libraries of photographs, newspapers and documents recording floods and the various paddlesteamers that serve the Murray.
11. Rich River Golf Club
There’s an immaculate golf course among the lakes next to the St Anne’s Vineyards in Moama.
Rich River Golf Club welcomes non-members to its two 18-hole courses.
The par 72 East Course here is the championship course, promising a tricky but rewarding round.
The par 71 West Course meanwhile has been reworked in recent years to offer a fun golfing experience for players of all levels.
For families there’s also a new mini-golf course, while if you want to rediscover your swing you can use the 17-bay driving range.
In 2020 the green fees at Rich River were $50 for 18 holes, or an unlimited daily rate of $80.
12. The Strawberry Pick
On the banks of the Murray strawberries are in season for seven months of the year, through to late-May.
This PYO farm on the Echuca bank was planted as recently as 2015 and grows four varieties – Monterey, Albion, San Andreas and Cabrillo.
You’ll pay for the punnet on arrival, and will be shown where the ripest berries can be found and the simplest way to pick them.
After a fruitful harvest you can take a seat at a picnic table in the shade and try something from the farm’s menu of strawberry treats, like scones with homemade jam, sorbets, ice cream and milkshakes.
13. Aqua Island Moama
A little way downriver there’s an inflatable water park in a lake on the NSW bank of the Murray.
You can get there in a few minutes on Perricoota Road, and it’s a summer outing that children are sure to love.
Aqua Island has a whole network of swings, jumps, wiggle bridges, runways, ladders and ramps, as well as a slide.
Grown-ups can have a fun, adrenaline-fuelled time conquering these Ninja Warrior-style challenges, and the attraction is available for corporate days.
Life jackets are provided and there are always lifeguards on patrol.
14. Echuca-Moama Visitor Information Centre
It’s only right that the visitor information resource for the Echuca-Moama area should also be in a heritage building.
This is the old pump house, dating to 1877 and used to supply water to the steam locomotives, hydraulic wool presses and cranes along the riverfront.
Now it’s one of the first ports of call in Echuca, where you can get advice on your next steps, book accommodation, browse the shop for souvenirs and grab an armful of leaflets.
But best of all you can use this facility to book your paddlesteamer trip, and so avoid a queue later in the day.
15. Southern 80
Every February Echuca-Moama is the finish line for a legendary water ski race on the Murray River.
As we mentioned earlier, the Five Mile Picnic Area is the starting point for the shorter race on the Saturday, finishing at Echuca’s Victoria Park.
Then on the Sunday the main event weaves downriver to Victoria Park, starting 80km away at Tirrumbarry Weir, negotiating more than 120 bends and hitting speeds in excess of 200km/h.
Teams normally power along this high-speed but also twisty and technical course in fours, with a driver, spotter and two skiers.
On a normal year there will be more than 900 competitors, and tens of thousands catching the action from the riverbanks.