All aboard for adventure: Paddlesteamer tours on the Murray River

June 26, 2024

If you’re heading to the Murray River, a river cruise is likely topping your itinerary. If so, there’s no better place to start your cruise than from Port of Echuca, home to the world’s oldest operating wooden hulled paddlesteamer.

Take a voyage through time as you explore Australia’s longest river by paddlewheel-power. From lush riverside scenery of 300-year-old river red gum trees to fascinating tales of yesteryear, a paddlesteamer tour has something for every age group. Load up the car for a memorable road trip holiday with the kids to Echuca, bring along your furry friend, and bookmark this read for your next Aussie family getaway.

When is the best time to visit the Murray River?

The Murray River is beautiful year-round, and we believe there’s no better way to experience it than from the water. Each season offers a different perspective, with winter blessing the Port with endless clear skies and sunny days sans the sweat, and summer gifting warm evenings for golden sunset cruises.

Looking for something to do during these school holidays? The Port of Echuca often hosts special school holiday activities with kids’ entertainment and more on top of the usual paddlesteamer, kids adventure and heritage tours.

If you’d like to turn the volume up on your adventure, join us from 25-28 July 2024 to experience the sounds of the Winter Blues Festival taking over the streets of Echuca. Don’t miss out on daytime blues with views of the wharf for a boogie before boarding.

How long does the paddlesteamer tour go for?

You’ll be steaming ahead along the Murray River for a delightful 60 minutes. As the paddlesteamer glides gently across the water, the hour fly by while you chat away to loved ones and soak up the ambience. Breathe in the fresh river air and learn fascinating fast facts about the Port and the river itself, like the fact that the Port of Echuca was Australia’s busiest inland port turning over 240 paddlesteamers to the wharf a year in its busiest period during the 1800s. Who knows, the information you pick up might just make you the star of your next trivia night!

What will happen during the paddlesteamer tour?

Wondering what will happen once you leave the shore? The tour will have you basking in the sun as a local expert skipper tells you all you need to know about the cultural and natural heritage of the Port and paddlesteamer history. Did you know the first paddlesteamer voyage navigate along the Murray River past Echuca occurred in 1853?

Plus, there are plenty of niche tourist attractions to eye-spy along the ride, such as the Echuca Thong Tree (yes, this may be the most Australian attraction to exist).

Who should I bring on my paddlesteamer adventure?

Everyone is welcome aboard Port of Echuca’s paddlesteamers. From friends and family to romantic dates or solo-self-dates, smiling in the sunshine and soaking up the scenery is an accessible and enjoyable activity for everyone.

For families, we think the tour is a great way to sneak some cultural and historical learning into an epic boat experience for the kiddies and the short-format keeps them engaged. Children can even explore figurines and live working models of paddlesteamer machinery throughout the Discovery Centre to let out some energy before boarding. The Cargo shed on the wharf is also a kids’ area with traditional games and interactive screens.

No need for your furbaby to miss out – you can take dogs on the paddlesteamers too and they will receive their very own special k9 cargo ticket.

What should I do before and after boarding?

Before you board, there’s boatloads of fun to be discovered for the whole family at the port precinct. It only takes a short wander through the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre to learn a lot about the culture and history of the area. There is also a gift shop to collect some wonderful souvenirs.

Post tour, grab lunch at Port 53 for mouth-watering deals and a selection of Echuca-made wines and craft beers, or dinner at The Mill for delicious dishes in an old flour mill turned vibrant bar-style restaurant.

Continue your Echuca discovery into the next day and stay the night at Cock n Bull Boutique Hotel for family rooms with river views in walking distance of the Discovery Centre. Holidaying with the better half? Secure your spot at Crofton Cottage sitting right in between romance and old-world charm, complete with a log fireplace, bay window, and intricate period-style interior.

How else can I experience the Murray River?

Does sitting onboard for an hour not float your boat? Don’t stress, there are other tours to conquer on foot! With daily guided tours around the Discovery Centre, kids adventure tours during the holidays, and spooky Port After Dark tours once the sun sets, your options stretch far beyond the paddlesteamer.

Before you set your GPS to Echuca and press play on the holiday playlist, plan ahead and book in your paddlesteamer tour here.

Port of Echuca