Echuca, in Victoria, is a delightful town and we enjoyed it immensely, despite the 43-degree heatwave that hit while we were there.
We stayed at the only place we could get a family room, the Echuca Rivergum Motor Inn. It wasn’t a bad little motel. Clean, the owner was friendly and, best of all, there was a pool. In the end we decided to cancel most of what we’d planned on day 1 in favour of sitting in the pool. Nothing else is fun at 43 degrees.
We did do a tour of town, and ate dinner at a Roma Pizza, a great place that hands each child a tin plate of dough, to create a masterpiece that later gets cooked. I had to threaten a couple of the boys with torture if they made dough penises.
We’d pre-booked a morning paddle steamer ride on the PS Pevensey, which turned out to be a blessing. The boat wasn’t crowded, we could all sit in the shade, and we were done before the midday heat really kicked in.
The Historic Port of Echuca precinct is home to Australia’s largest fleet of steam-driven paddle steamers and retains much of the look and feel it had in the 1860s. The pedestrian only street leading to the port is gorgeous, with lovely renovated buildings, cafes and restaurants, as well as the more touristy places where you can have your photo taken in 1860s costumes.
The redgum timber wharf contains original working steam pumps and engines, and a wonderful walkway down to the paddle steamer, where you overlook the Murray.
The Murray River truly is lovely. It’s iconic. Despite growing up in Northern NSW, the banks of the Murray were so familiar to me. They sang of every early colonial painting I’d ever seen. We saw lots of birds, jumping fish and a black wallaby on the banks. Kids are well catered for. They all get a chance to steer the paddle steamer, and get a certificate afterwards.
We disembarked and made our way into the Discovery Centre, which has interactive displays and some interesting information about the history of Echuca and the paddle steamers.
By the time we were done… we were seriously done. The heat was debilitating, and as much as I wanted to see some other Echuca sights, we hit the road instead. Thank god for air-conditioning. For once, the boys were completely happy to be stuck in the car.