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Outback Murray River region is Australia's great river journey

 

Australia's Great River Landscape

The Outback Murray River region is Australia's greatest river experience and journey. It was recently considered as one of Australia's National Landscapes. It would also be the only region in Australia that a river flowed through 2 great Australian landscapes as it starts its journey in the Australian Alps National Park. The region was considered very special for its cultural, historical and biodiverse rich environment including the World Heritage Willandra Lakes and Mungo National Park.

The iconic river stretches as a border between New South Wales and Victoria, enters South Australia and finally completes its journey at the Murray Mouth and the Southern Ocean.

As one of Australia's great landscapes there are many significant experiences for you to enjoy and appreciate and connect with.

Natural and cultural locations for Australian and international visitors

Murray River

The Murray River landscape offers in excess of thirty national and conservational parks that offer a wide variety of experiences.

World Heritage Willandra Lakes

The Willandra Lakes was listed as one of Australia's first World Heritage Areas in 1981. This includes the Mungo National Park. A place of stark beauty, the Willandra lakes Region is unique, showing how climate, wind and water have shaped the landscape over the last two million years.  It provides evidence of Aboriginal occupation over the last 40,000 plus years and a powerful insight into the mortuary rites of the first Australians.

Once a lush environment teeming with water and animal life, the now-dry lakes and dunes have yielded well-preserved fossils of over 55 animal species, including giant mammals.  The region is included on both the World and National Heritage Lists for its outstanding cultural and natural values.

The Willandra Lakes Region covers 240,000 hectares of a semi-arid landscape mosaic comprising dried saline lake bed plains vegetated with saltbush communities, fringing sand dunes and woodlands with grassy understoreys in the Murray Basin area in far south-western New South Wales.

About 24 per cent of the site forms the Mungo National Park, including spectacular features such as the Walls of China lunette. The remaining area comprises pastoral leasehold properties.

Stone artefacts recovered near Lake Mungo show that indigenous people have lived in the region for at least 40,000 years.  Australia’s oldest human remains dated to 40,000 years old have also been uncovered in the Willandra lakes Region.

The oldest recorded human cremation in the world has been found at Mungo. The lunette or “Walls of China” contain extremely well preserved campfires Cooking hearths, shell middens, animal bones and tools where the aboriginal people once camped around the once lush lake.

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria in south-western NSW is a special cultural place and a key national water resource.  Recent archaeological finds show evidence of human life and burial grounds of the Aboriginal people from around 45,000 years ago. In 1841 the infamous Rufus River massacre had taken place between the Europeans and the Aboriginal people as they fought for their land. Lake Victoria provides a vital supply of water for people in NSW, Victoria and particularly for the Lower Murray region and other major towns and cities throughout SA.

Perry Sandhills

Perry Sandhills are a remarkable eons-old geological formation. These remarkable dunes, covering an area of 10ha, are much smaller than their famous neighbour in Lake Mungo National Park but what they lack in size they more than make up for in sheer beauty. They feature significant fossil finds of Australia’s Megafauna (think wombats the size of a car), Pleistocene (10,000 to 1.8 million years ago). Some of which are housed in the Rotary Museum in Wentworth only minutes drive from the site. Megafauna replica’s exhibited at the museum include a Diprotodon, Procoptodon, Genyornis and a Thylacteo. The scale of them have been determined by actual skeletons. The heart of the Murray Darling basin, this area also marks the confluence of the fourth largest river system in the world, after the Amazon, the Nile and the Mississippi (based on area of catchment).

Riverland Biosphere Reserve

Riverland Biosphere Reserve is a significant natural area protected by UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).  The Riverland Biosphere Reserve covers 900,000 hectares, encompassing parts of the Murray River, associated wetlands and floodplain and vast expanses of ancient mallee. It is home to a number of rare and endangered species. The reserve consists of nearly 40 different land partners, including National Parks, local government and grazing properties.

Birds Australia Gluepot Reserve

Birds Australia Gluepot Reserve: Birds Australia Gluepot Reserve is Australia's largest community managed and operated conservation reserve. Situated 64 km from the Murray River in South Australia's Riverland at Waikerie, the reserve is managed and operated entirely by volunteers. Some 54,000 ha is size, it is home to 18 nationally threatened species of birds, 53 species of reptiles and 12 species of bats, some of which are nationally threatened. There are few areas of the world that support such a concentration of threatened species.

Thegoa Lagoon

Thegoa Lagoon is an ephemeral (non-permanent) freshwater wetland that supports a healthy and diverse array of native flora and fauna.  It is an important cultural, social and economic resource to Wentworth and the Lower Darling Region. Thegoa Lagoon was an important Aboriginal meeting place due to its proximity to the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers in Wentworth.

Hattah-Kulkyne National Park

Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. This 48,000 hectare park is one of only three Biosphere Reserves in Victoria.  During flood period, the lakes are recognised as some of Australia’s significant wetlands under an international agreement (the Ramsar Convention) for the protection of Wetlands. During flood periods, indigenous people camped on mounds that formed islands in the high water, moving from place to place in canoes constructed from the bark of River Red Gums.

Unique tourism experiences in the Murray region

Tours

Harry Nanya Tours

Harry Nanya Tours to Mungo. Lake Mungo is a part of the Willandra Lakes system. In 1981 it was listed as a World Heritage site and is now documented as one the oldest places for human occupation dating back to Aboriginal life at least 40,000 years ago. The lakes dried up approximately 18,000 years ago, the shores known as “The Walls of China” or “lunette” for its 30km crescent shape of sand dunes now shows clear evidence of camp fires and cooking hearth of the Aboriginal people as they sat around the once full Lake. Now with the natural erosion, the shoreline stands with eroding pinnacles of sand and clay in vibrant colours of the earth and breathtaking sceneries.

Outback Tours

Outback tours including Bush Safari offer two, three, four and five day bird-watching safaris, with overnight stop-overs in shearers' quarters.  Enjoy one of these exciting ornithological experiences and add some of Australia's rarest bird species to your life lists.

Mungo National Park Tours

Mungo National Park Tours are numerous other tour operators who take guided tours to Mungo National Park including Sunraysia Discovery Tours, Desert Sky Tours, Outback Spirit Tours and 5 Star Adventure Tours, among others. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service also conduct guided tours with Traditional Owner guides during school holiday periods.

Self Drive Experiences

Banrock Station

Banrock Station formerly sheep grazing land, has since been utterly transformed with the restoration of wetlands, woodlands and wildlife.  Experience the magnificently restored wetland reserve where wildlife is returning to once again flourish and find sanctuary. The self-guided walking trails feature story centres, information huts and bird hides where you can watch black swans, pelicans, swamp hens, many species of ducks, ibis, spoonbills, herons and egrets.  It's a bird lovers paradise.  Visitors can learn about the links between the River Murray landscapes including the river itself, the floodplain, the wetland, mallee woodland, vineyards at the visitor centre

Chaffey Trail

Chaffey Trail: Named in homage to Mildura pioneers, Canadian brothers George and W.B. Chaffey, the Chaffey Trail traces the growth of their vision to make the region the site of Australia’s first irrigated colony. Its 9 identified sites provide insights into the determination, vision and spirit of the area’s early residents. These include historic Rio Vista, the National Trust-classified Psyche Bend Pump Station and the historic Wentworth Wharf.

Thegoa Lagoon

Thegoa Lagoon is geared for recreational activities including bird watching, bush walking (with trails and signage), fishing and picnicking.  Structured walking and drive tours are on offer for the experience seeker.  Scar trees (with canoes, tools, bowls etc engraved into the tree) and Boundary/marker trees are signed along the trails.

The Old Coach Road

The Old Coach Road (unsealed) originally developed as an overland stock route linking South Australia and New South Wales, and later as the main Coach Mail route, offers insights into the early European settlement and development of the area, as well as taking travelers past some of the significant Indigenous sites of the region, such as Rufus River. This track was featured in the June 2008 edition of Overland 4WD magazine.

Locks, weirs, dams

Lock, weirs, dams and reservoirs designed to store and manage water flows to sustain primary industry reliant of irrigation make up a powerful system of industrial heritage.

River Cruises

River cruises include backwater dinghy tours, river, creek and wetland canoe tours plus purpose built cruise boats and historic paddle steamers offering day and night trips. Water based recreation activities such as water skiing is also popular

Overland Corner

Overland Corner in South Australia had already been used by Aboriginals as a riverside camping area for thousands of years before it was developed in the early 1800’s as a staging post for drovers moving stock between Adelaide and the outback.  It later became the hub for gold rush traffic in the 1850’s and serviced the Murray River’s paddleboat trade.  Today, the Historic Overland Hotel – thought to have been a favourite haunt of the legendary bushranger Caption Moonlight – provides a starting point for exploring the area’s rich history.

Museums

The National Parks Visitor Centre in Mungo National Park has an extensive interpretive display for visitors. Wentworth Museum displays Mega fauna located in the area from Perry Sandhills, Lake Victoria, Mungo National Park and along the Darling River. Replicas exhibited has been designed by actual skeletons from these areas.

Iconic landscapes and experiences for you to enjoy

Five Murray Landscapes

The Murray River region comprises of five beautiful landscapes which makes it the perfect driving experience.

These landscapes are representative of the regions the river passes through. The Murray Region offers everything from pioneering towns, cosmopolitan centres, locations which offer unique flora and fauna, a world heritage area, Aboriginal culture and heritage and pastoral heritage, opportunities for canoe tours along the Murray and its backwaters, camping and houseboat holidays.

Tours

Tours: A large variety of tours incorporating canoeing, walking, boating and nature give visitors the opportunity to be adventurous and challenge themselves physically, emotionally and mentally.

Houseboats

Houseboat holidays range from the first fleet to embrace the river - eco accredited “Liba Liba” paddlewheel generated houseboats, - to five-star luxury boats equipped with European appliances, stainless steal kitchens, plasma screens, ensuites, lounges, luxury and comfort.  The houseboat experience goes to the heart of the offer to Experience Seekers who want to refresh their spirit whilst getting close to both nature and to the living culture of the many communities along the river system.

National Parks

The National Parks across the three-states pride themselves on visitor management, ensuring the Parks ‘experience’ is not lost and tourism remains sustainable.  The parks and biospheres of the region play a considerable role with conservation-minded property owners in shaping a culture where the drive to meet the needs of visitors is matched by intelligent concern for preserving the river system and its adjacent landscapes.

National Park key locations have excellent infrastructure that has been designed to minimise visitor impacts, protect natural and cultural values and provide a quality tourism experience.

Gateways to the Murray Region

The Murray Outback region is one of the most accessible regions in Australia. Perfectly placed between Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide you can travel to the region easily and quickly. Mildura is serviced currently by 3 airlines operating 70 flights per week into and out of Mildura Airport. Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney offer flights to Mildura. Accessibility via road also offers many diverse options. Echuca south-east of Mildura along the Murray River is 2½ hours from Melbourne and offers a significant insight into one of Australia’s largest and busiest inland ports during the paddle steamer era. It's a 4½ hour drive to Mildura from Echuca along the beautiful and scenic Murray Valley Highway. Driving from Adelaide, the Riverland is less than 2 hours and only 4 hours to Mildura. Coming from Sydney the visitor can enjoy their journey to the region via the Riverina region, which includes the famous Murrumbidgee River that Charles Sturt used to discover the Murray River in 1830.

The historic outback mining town and artistic culture of Broken Hill in NSW is a fantastic gateway for the outback visitor who may want to connect from the already established National Landscape of the Flinders Ranges SA. They can also experience the cultural significance of the Kinchega National Park and Menindee Lakes System and can travel along the Darling River to Wentworth. Similarly the Murray Region is only 7 hours from the Great Ocean Road. The region offers easy access from many points and cities in South Eastern Australia with many good quality sealed roads and clear signposts. Visitors can easily move through the region on their own or as part of a tour. The Murray River has the potential to provide an all-encompassing Australian holiday experience.

Each town along the Murray offers its own distinctive experience that combine into a wonderful Australian journey. They retain a strong sense of natural identity and unique Australian lifestyle. No Murray towns or districts have overdeveloped tourism assets and it’s this genuine, rich culture that the experience seeker can absorb while enjoying a diverse range of quality products while interacting with the locals.

The Outback Murray region is a wonderful part of Australia’s culture offering the international visitor the opportunity to enjoy and explore Australia’s natural beauty and our unique Aboriginal heritage. You will enjoy, share and remember forever.


 



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