Murray River at Mildura Victoria

Australia’s Murray River is often referred to as the food bowl of the nation as much of the land around it is irrigated by waters fed from the rivers.

One of the major towns along the river is Mildura. The Murray forms the border between New South Wales and Victoria. Mildura sits on the Victorian side, and is the second biggest town after the twin towns of Albury/Wodonga.

That “food bowl” reference certainly suits Mildura as it is a major fruit growing area where citrus and grapes thrive.

There have been times when drought has seen the waters of the Murray drop to alarming levels, but in recent years heavy rains have led to floods. Those floods have rejuvenated the Murray, cleansing it and allowing crops to reap record yields. When the crops are good, and the river high, Mildura does very well.

Many people use Mildura as a base from which to ride historic paddle steamers, or hire house boats on which to explore the Murray at leisure, allowing them the ability to moor by a quiet riverbank at night, to throw in a line and catch a good fresh feed.

The paddle boats are the relics of a bygone era when the Murray was a main transportation hub, and these steamers would cart goods down to the river’s mouth in South Australia.

Two of the paddle boats are truly historic. The PS Melbourne is a century old and is still powered by steam. These days she ferries tourists between the Mildura wharf and Lock 11 for a scenic tour of the river. The PV Rothbury was built in 1881 and still has a reputation for being one of the fastest paddle boats plying the river. Today, she is mainly used for lunch and dinner cruises, and for taking visitors to tour some wineries.

Today Mildura is a modern, attractive city which has wide streets and a reputation for serving fine food. The town has an entertaining and dining precinct called Feastreet, where the main focus is on serving local produce. It is a very cultured place, each year hosting a number of music, art and writing festivals.

Its greatest asset, though, is the Murray River itself which changes mood with the seasons. There are some lovely walks to be taken by the river and it is an ideal spot for picnics, or just to sit and watch that long ribbon of water as it gently flows by.

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