Being in the area we decide to spend a few relaxing days at Moama Waters Caravan Park. Moama is the NSW twin town of Echuca and combined they have a population of 21,242 (2018). With the Murray River flowing silently between, both towns have a holiday feel to Melburnians in need of a little warmth and the ambiance of The River. You see, there’s a certain feel that is exuded by this river and it is something that cannot be described and is really only felt by the people of south eastern Australia.
On long weekends Victorians and South Australians in need of a break either rush to the coast or to The River to water ski and camp. Whenever we mentioned our weekends away our Queensland based sister-in-law would ask “What river?” To which we would reply “THE River! Of course.” Eventually we managed to get her down for a holiday in Echuca and frankly I think it left her wondering if we Melburnians were perhaps a little mad. For the mighty Murray is not a broad swathe of blue water flanked with greenery like those of the Northern Rivers region of northern New South Wales. It may start as a pretty mountain stream up in the Snowy Mountains but it soon becomes wide and brown like so much of this land and its banks are lined with ancient river redgums. Trees not known for their grace but their age and their size and their gnarls. Like the river it takes time to see the beauty of the redgum.
The township of Echuca is unusual in that it is roughly divided into two areas. The modern shopping centre and rural hub of Echuca and the old town the Port of Echuca which is popular with the tourists and home to the restored wharf and paddle steamers. It’s a living museum.
Echuca as a town developed in around 1850 when ex-convict Henry Hopwood operated a punt service across the Murray River. The remains of which can be seen today. We’ve lost count of the times we’ve holidayed in Echuca and yet still it calls us back.