The perfect itinerary for a Murray River road trip, including what to do, where to stay, what to eat and more.
The Murray region in southern New South Wales boasts an eclectic mix of fantastic cuisine, natural splendours, diverse native wildlife and award-winning wineries, all capped with a healthy dose of famous Aussie hospitality.
It has long been a popular place to travel for grey nomads exploring Australia by caravan, however in recent years, the towns along the Murray River have seen a rising boom in tourism for people of all ages and interests.
With historic buildings housing world-class restaurants, micro-breweries popping up around every corner, a focus on sustainable and ethical business growth and more and more activities being developed every year, the hype is well deserved.
READ MORE: Check out our Australia travel guide!
Recently we travelled to the Murray region with Visit NSW to check out some of these booming destinations.
Having travelled all over Australia, we know just how beautiful this country really is.
So it’s little wonder that it takes a lot for a place to impress us.
What we found in during our Murray River road trip though exceeded all expectations, and we soon realised that 4 days in this area is nowhere near enough.
From Albury to Moama, Corowa to Mathoura, and a few more places in between, we found ourselves constantly wondering why we hadn’t got here sooner.
If you’re thinking about visiting southern New South Wales, and in particular the Murray region, we’ve put together this itinerary based on our own experiences to help you make the most of your trip.
Murray River Road Trip Itinerary
We spent 4 days on our Murray River drive, starting and finishing in the town of Albury, and we’ll be the first to admit that this was nowhere near enough time to properly explore everything that the region has to offer.
However we managed to fit a lot in, and were lucky that we had the guidance of Visit NSW to direct us to the absolute best places to stay, eat, visit and drink.
This is our personal Murray River road trip itinerary, and it should serve as a perfect way to kick off your own self-drive adventure.
Day 1 – Albury
The bustling town of Albury on the border of New South Wales and Victoria will be the starting point for this Murray River road trip, as it is the main hub in the region.
Albury is a bit of an anomaly in Australia, in that a recent highway bypass that was constructed actually resulted in the city being rejuvenated, rather than abandoned, as has occurred in many other towns
When the heavy traffic that used to frequent downtown stopped flowing through, the city came alive.
Locals who would actively avoid the downtown area suddenly came back, falling in love again with the leafy and picturesque riverside walks.
Today Albury is a hive of activity, with people making the most of the local markets, trendy cafes, micro-breweries and lush parklands.
If you’ve flown into Albury, you can pick up a rental car at the airport to get ready for your Murray River road trip.
Otherwise, you have most likely driven into town. Book yourself into a hotel (our recommendation on where to stay is below), and get ready to make the most of your day in Albury!
READ MORE: Check out our New South Wales road trip itinerary here!
9am- Check Out the Albury Historical Walk
The first thing you should do is park your car at the hotel, download the Albury Historical Walk app to your smartphone, and hit the streets.
The app is a fantastic free resource that plots a course via Google Maps around downtown Albury, with location pins and an audio guide for all of the main attractions.
Start at the Albury Railway Station, hit play on the app, and be taken on a marvellous journey into the fascinating history of Albury.
The whole tour should take you about two hours, finishing up at the Regent Theatre on Dean Street.
11am – Wander Through the Albury Botanic Gardens
While you’re in the downtown area, the next stop on our Murray River itinerary will be the Albury Botanic Gardens.
This award-winning park in the heart of Albury was first built 130 years ago, and wandering around its grounds is a perfect way to spend a few hours.
The botanic gardens are spread over 4 hectares, with pathways meandering through native trees and manicured horticultural collections.
There’s a Heritage Walk, a Rainforest Walk, and if you have kids, they’ll be sure to love the new Children’s Garden.
They have even developed a ClimateWatch Trail to educate others about the impacts of climate change by allowing visitors to see firsthand the effects of rising and falling temperatures on plants.
Expect to spend about 2 hours here at the Albury Botanic Gardens.
1pm – Lunch at River Deck Cafe
By now you would have worked up a decent appetite with all of this walking, and it’s just another 15 minutes to reach one of the best restaurants in town.
The River Deck Cafe is located in Noreuil Park, right by the edge of the Murray River, and is the perfect place to grab lunch.
Specialising in regional foods, always fresh, and leaning on the skills of their champion chefs, the River Deck Cafe has developed a sterling reputation amongst locals and tourists for their delectable cuisine and friendly staff.
The owner, Alex Smit, originally from Belgium, moved to the area over 10 years ago and saw the potential for a top-class restaurant in this picturesque location by the banks of the Murray.
What he and his team have created is truly fantastic. One glance at the menu and you’ll see what the fuss is about.
Try to grab a table outside by the river if you can, and definitely try their fresh fruit smoothies.
- Address: 48 Noreuil Parade Albury, NSW
3.30pm – Walk Along the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk
After lunch, wander back to the hotel to check-in (if you haven’t already), pick up your car, and take a short drive to the Kremur Street Boat Ramp over in South Albury.
This is the start of the 5km long Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk, which follows part of the Wagirra Trail.
The Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk is a new outdoor exhibit featuring works created by a number of incredible Aboriginal artists.
They are scattered throughout the 5km walk, and interpretative panels and videos accompany each of the pieces, so you can dive deep into indigenous history and culture.
Besides the artwork, the walk itself is stunning, following the Murray River, weaving between forests, and even passing by a large wetland filled with dozens of various bird species.
If you walk from one end to the other, you can expect it to take about 2.5 hours at a relaxed pace.
Alternatively, you can either walk as far as you like and turn around whenever you are ready, or if you are in town with some friends who have their own car, they can park at the end (Wonga Wetlands) and shuttle you back.
7pm – Dinner at Bistro Selle
We recommend making a booking at Bistro Selle, because it’s an extremely popular restaurant.
Bistro Selle is a small establishment with massive flavour and character!
Owned by the benevolent Matthew, this European-style restaurant is focused on serving up the absolute highest quality ingredients possible.
The food menu is quite selective, and that’s exactly the way they want it here. The philosophy is “Do a small number of meals perfectly than a large number of meals decently”, and it works.
What isn’t small though is their wine menu. With so many amazing wineries right on Albury’s doorstep, Matthew makes sure only the best vintages make it into their cellar.
He’s also an expert at wine pairing, which suited us well on our recent visit.
Once we ordered the mains we trusted Matthew to choose the best wines for our meals, and he absolutely nailed it.
Our biggest recommendation here: Order the oysters!
- Address: 1/467 Olive Street, Albury
Where to Stay in Albury – Atura Albury
If you need a hotel right downtown, and like a bit of style and flair, you can’t miss out on a night in Atura Albury.
This funky, modern 4-star hotel oozes trendiness from the moment you walk in the lobby.
You’ll find a bar, restaurant and little shop by reception before jumping in the elevator to find your floor.
The rooms are large, bright and have all the amenities you’d ever need, including a coffee machine and minibar.
There’s free parking on-site (perfect for us road trippers), and the complimentary breakfast in the morning is absolutely fantastic.
Day 2 – Hiking and Lake Mulwala
Hopefully you haven’t woken up with too much of a headache after all that delicious wine at Bistro Selle, because you have a big day ahead.
Wake up early, grab breakfast in the hotel, pack the car and hit the road at about 7.30am.
The plan is to spend two nights at your accommodation in Lake Mulwala and use it as a base.
9am – Go Hiking in Woomagama National Park
The first stop on day 2 of our Murray region driving itinerary is actually going to see us going north from Albury, away from the Murray River.
Jump on the Hume Highway and drive an hour north towards the town of Woomargama, home to the Woomargama National Park.
This is the largest protected forest west of the Great Dividing Range and is home to a number of endangered species, including the powerful owl.
It’s a definite four-wheel-driving hotspot, with tonnes of tracks weaving their way through the park, but if you don’t have a 4×4, don’t worry.
The main trails that cut through here are dirt, but suitable for most cars.
Head into the park and drive around for a bit, checking out some trails and stopping to try and spot some wildlife, such as echidna.
One amazing spot to check out is Norths Lookout. Sitting at around 1000m above sea level, the views extend all the way to the Snowy Mountains and over the Murray Valley.
If you have a 4×4 you can drive all the way to the lookout. Otherwise you can park your car a few kilometres from the lookout and hike into it.
Norths Lookout is on Google Maps.
10:30am – Drive to Corowa
Once you’ve finished checking out Woomargama National Park, jump back in the car and drive back towards Albury.
You can stop off and grab a coffee in town if you’d like, then continue towards the cute town of Corowa.
12:30pm – Lunch at Corowa Whisky and Chocolate
Corowa is a lovely place, with lots of good cafes to have lunch in, but we recommend stopping by Corowa Whisky and Chocolate.
The story of this establishment alone makes it worth the visit, and when you throw in boutique whisky and chocolate, and you have yourself a real winner.
Set in the old Corowa flour mill, the factory was left abandoned for 40 years when the owners went out of business.
The council took over the property but had no use for it, so instead, it sat there crumbling.
Eventually, a local family approached the council to see what the future plans were for it.
The council offered to sell them the entire property and buildings for $1, on the condition that they renovate it fully, and turn it into a business that would attract tourists to town.
They agreed, and over the course of 10 years, they turned the old flour mill into Corowa Whisky and Chocolate.
Australian whisky isn’t too common, but these guys do a fantastic job at making delicious, smooth and strong liquor.
You can join a whisky tasting session to sample some of their drops, and buy a bottle or two.
They also make their own chocolate on-site (free samples available of course), and for the kids, they can even try their hand at chocolate-making.
The food they have in the small restaurant is very delicious, and it’s a great place to have a feed before you hit the road again.
- Address: 20-24 Steel St, Corowa NSW
2pm – Head to Lake Mulwala
It’s only about 45 minutes to drive to Lake Mulwala, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire Murray region.
This enormous man-made lake is popular for all kinds of water activities, such as fishing, kayaking, boat cruises and water skiing.
What it’s most famous for though are the river red gum trees that rise from the water like eery ghosts, still standing from when the area was flooded in 1940.
They are a very interesting sight, and wonderful for photography.
Once you get to Lake Mulwala, pull up at your accommodation for the night, the award-winning holiday park, DC on the Lake, a few kilometres before the town.
Check-in, drop your car off and relax for a little bit before the afternoon’s activity.
4pm – Go Kayaking or Stand-Up Paddleboarding on the Lake
DC on the Lake has a number of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards available to rent, and with their location right by the water’s edge, it’s a perfect chance to make the most of them.
The managers at the holiday park will bring the kayaks or SUPs right to the boat ramp for you, so you can go out at your own leisure.
Grab your paddles, throw on a lifejacket, and hit the water.
Paddling around the ghostly trees is a really fun experience, and close to the holiday park are a few islands that are nesting areas for pelicans and other birds.
Once you’ve had enough of being on the water, head back to the shore, pull your gear onto dry land, and get ready for dinner.
7pm – Dinner in Town
It’s only a short drive to the town of Mulwala, and a bit further on to Yarrawonga over the border in Victoria, and both places have wonderful food options.
We personally ate at the Yarrawonga Hotel, and the food was affordable, delicious and came in huge portions.
Pick anywhere that tickles your fancy for dinner here.
READ MORE: Visiting Sydney? Check out these awesome day trips from the city!
Where to Stay in Lake Mulwala – DC on the Lake
If there’s one thing Australia does better than perhaps anywhere else when it comes to accommodation, it’s holiday parks.
Set up in the most popular locations all over the country, these sprawling properties are the perfect place for families, couples and grey nomads to stop at for a few days on their travels.
DC on the Lake is one of the best holiday parks in the nation, and once you check-in you’ll understand why.
Situated right on the lake in a quiet corner just outside of town and surrounded by native bushland, the park is perfect for people looking to spend their time outdoors and have a bit of comfort as well.
They have all the amenities you could ever need, including a swimming pool, barbecues, sports facilities, kayak hire, kids playground, a boat ramp and a pier for fishing.
There’s plenty of room for caravans, motorhomes and campers, or if you need a roof over your head, their fully self-contained cabins are a sight to behold.
The owners are very friendly as well, and will do everything they can to make your stay perfect.
Day 3 – A Day at the Lake
Today we’re going to hang out around Lake Mulwala and make the most of this beautiful area.
There’s a lot to do here, and you can tweak the itinerary if you want to include some of your favourite activities such as fishing, but here are our recommendations for what to do in Lake Mulwala.
7am – Early Morning Paddle on the Lake
You could sleep in if you want, but you’re in one of the most picturesque places in all of the Murray region, so you should make the most of it!
Grab the kayak or stand-up paddleboard that you rented from DC on the Lake and hit the water again.
If you wake up early enough you’ll get to watch the sunrise over the lake, and if conditions are just right, there’ll even be mist hanging low over the water.
Once you’ve finished your paddle head to Mulwala for breakfast. We recommend the Mulwala Bakery.
12pm – Ride the P.S. Cumberoona Paddle Steamer
Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, paddle steamers were a major mode of transport for goods.
These old steam-powered vessels would cruise up and down the rivers of eastern Australia, taking with them supplies for remote towns.
Over the years they also turned into a luxury holiday escape for thousands of people, until a new rail network made travel much more affordable.
The paddle steamers almost completely disappeared from the waters, but luckily some enterprising businesses saw the potential for tourism, and restored a number of them.
One of the best paddle steamers under operation today is the P.S. Cumberoona.
Replicated on the original Cumberoona from 1866, the current paddle steamer was opened in 1987 by Queen Elizabeth II.
It runs fantastic sightseeing cruises on Lake Mulwala, including a delicious lunch, and is an absolute must-do when in the area.
The cruise leaves from Yarrawonga. Call 0477 666 099 to book it ahead of time.
2pm Walk Around Chinaman’s Island
After you jump off the boat head over to Chinaman’s Island, a lovely little nature reserve that juts out into Lake Mulwala.
In 1920 the island was named after a Chinese man who was working at the local market.
It has a walking trail that cuts through the forest and along the edge of the lake, and is a sanctuary for a variety of different bird species.
It’s a short walk, so should only take you 30 minutes or so to visit.
3pm Visit Rich Glen Olive Estate
Jump in the car and drive out Rich Glen Olive Estate, another great example of a local business flourishing with sustainable ethics.
Owned and operated by the lovely Ros and her family, this olive oil farm has a sterling reputation throughout the Murray region for producing phenomenal food and beauty products.
Everybody from the P.S. Cumberoona to the top award-winning restaurants in the area is desperate to get a hold of Ros’ bread, salad dressings and other delicacies, but that doesn’t let her lower quality to cope with demand.
Besides delivering their goods to local businesses, Ros and her team welcome visitors to their onsite cafe and store, where you can tuck into a delectable lunch or stock up on olive oils to take home.
In recent years they’ve started making natural beauty products (Alesha stocked up on plenty, I can assure you), and they will be soon opening a museum as well.
While you’re at Rich Glen Olive Estate make yourself a platter to take home for dinner.
For $50 you can choose from the award-winning selection of cheeses, bread, dips, salami, marinated olives and more, then have Ros pack it up to take away.
If you’d like, buy some of her organic granola and yoghurt as well to take home for breakfast tomorrow.
- Address: 734 Murray Valley Hwy, Yarrawonga, Victoria
7pm – Sunset Dinner at DC on the Lake
After Rich Glen Olive Estate make your way back to your accommodation, via a bottle store of course to buy a bottle of local wine, and enjoy dinner by the lake for sunset.
If you didn’t bring back a Rich Glen Olive Estate breakfast to enjoy, stop by the Mulwala Bakery for a bite to eat.
READ MORE: Looking to take the best pictures on your road trip? Check out our travel photography tips!
Day 4 – Moama
Today we’re going to wake up early and drive for about 2 hours to the little town of Mathoura, on the doorstep of Murray Valley National Park.
If you didn’t bring back the granola from Rich Glen Olive Estate, stop by Mulwala Bakery for breakfast on the way to Mathoura.
9am – Go Hiking in Murray Valley National Park
Home to the largest red gum forest in the world, Murray Valley National Park is a stunning example of native Australian bushland that gets more and more interesting the deeper you wander into it.
There’s over 60 threatened native animal species that live in the park, and 40 threatened plant species, so protecting this place is absolutely critical.
The town of Mathoura serves as the jumping-off point for hiking trails into the park, and the first hike we recommend you check out is the Gulpa Creek Walk.
Drive to historical Crane’s Bridge, just outside of town, and start your walk from there.
Cross the bridge, turn right at the first fork in the path, and you’ll be on the trail.
For around 5km you follow Gulpa Creek with gum trees towering above you.
The scenery is stunning, and the only noises you’ll hear are the rustling of the leaves and thousands of birds humming (or squawking, in the case of the cockatoos).
There’s also an Aboriginal site along the way.
Once you get to the Picnic Point Road bridge, turn around and head back the way you came.
- Starting Point: Crane’s Bridge, Mathoura
11am – Check Out Reed Beds Bird Hide
A few minutes drive heading towards Moama you’ll see the turn-off for Reed Beds Bird Hide. Turn left, and soon enough you’ll be in the carpark for the walk.
They don’t call Reed Beds Bird Hide a ‘birdwatchers paradise’ for nothing.
There are dozens of different migratory birds that flock here year-round, some from as far away as Europe.
Wander down the elevated boardwalk towards the covered timber viewing platform, being sure to read the information panels as you go.
Once you climb the platform at the end you’ll have beautiful views over the whole wetlands.
Take a seat, take a peek through your binoculars if you have any, and try to spot as many birds as possible.
This is a great place to try out some birds-in-flight photography too if you have the right gear.
Even if you’re not a bird lover, it’s worth stopping by just to admire the views.
- Address: Picnic Point Road, Mathoura, NSW
1pm – Lunch at Morrisons Winery and Restaurant
We hope you’re feeling hungry, because you are in for a real treat this afternoon.
Just outside of Moama you’ll find Morrisons Winery and Restaurant, backing onto the Murray River and home to some of the best food, wine, and now beer, in the region.
Set on 15 picturesque acres, the boutique vineyard creates a variety of different wines that will leave your tastebuds singing for more.
When you first walk in make sure you stop off at the bar to dive into a wine tasting session by one of the passionate team.
From there see if you can grab a seat for lunch outside on the balcony, where gum trees tower above and you can almost hear the sound of the Murray River flowing by.
The food at Morrisons is mind-blowing, and the head chef Troy prides himself on creating unique masterpieces out of local ingredients.
We opted for the ‘I Want it All’ package, and were served duck confit, fresh trout and the absolute best pork belly we have ever tried in our entire lives.
Troy delivers each meal to the customers himself, chatting about what he and his crew have created. He’s a great guy, and sure to make your experience that much more enjouyable.
Besides the great food, wine and views, Morrisons now has a microbrewery on-site called 1710 Brew Co.
Spearheaded by Morrisons’ affable general manager Cam, the brewery has been churning out tasty beer for a few years now, and has very recently started canning one of their drops, a flavourful Session Ale.
Cam made us up a paddle so we could sample the beers, and they were all fantastic.
My personal favourite was the American Pale Ale. And you better believe we took some Session Ales home with us!
If you happen to be here on a weekend make sure you book a table for lunch, and if it’s a Sunday you’ll get to make the most of their awesome Sunday session.
- Address: 123 Merool Road, Moama NSW
4pm – Stand-Up Paddleboard Down the Murray River
You can’t have a Murray region itinerary without getting out on the Murray River itself, and that is exactly what the plan is for this afternoon.
Get in touch with Josh at iWaterski to organise a memorable stand-up paddleboarding experience down Australia’s longest river.
Josh is an awesome guy, and has spent his whole life waterskiing in the Echuca Moama area.
He turned his passion into a profession, starting iWateski to get other people out on the water, and now he does rentals and lessons for waterskiing, wakeboarding and SUPing.
Josh’s SUP tours start from Maidens Inn Holiday Park in Moama, and you have two options.
First, he can take you upriver, doing a lesson on proper SUP technique along the way, and checking out some cool little tributaries and bushland.
Second is you take the board and paddle a few kilometres all the way into Echuca, where Josh will meet you with his van at the end.
To do this drop your car at the end, and Josh will drive you back to the starting point.
Paddling down the Murray is a marvellous experience, and if you’re lucky you’ll have some old paddle steamers chug by, adding to the atmosphere.
Prices are AUD$30 per board, per hour.
- Address: 30 Deniliquin St, Moama, NSW
- Phone: 0400 290 718
Where to Stay in Moama – Talo Retreat
Moama has perhaps the most unique accommodation along the entire Murray River, and one of the nicest places we’ve stayed in for a long time.
Talo Retreat is located at the back of Moama on Murray Resort (which in itself is a fantastic accommodation if you have kids), only a short drive out of town surrounded by bushland and native animals.
What makes Talo Retreat so unique is that you stay in luxury, high-end yurts, only a few steps from the Murray River.
Designed after traditional Mongolian Gers, the yurts at Talo Retreat have been designed almost like tiny homes that you could live in forever.
The interior is tastefully decorated and bright, with a small kitchenette and sitting area.
Outside there’s a deck to relax on, a bathroom built inside a corrugated iron shed, and even a hammock and barbecue.
The yurts are simply mind-blowing (Alesha is 100% convinced we are going to live in a yurt just like this one day), and will most likely prove to be the best accommodation you stay in throughout the Murray River drive.
We recommend picking up food from the grocery store before you get to Talo Retreat and cooking dinner at your yurt.
Talo Retreat is for adults only.
- Address: 69A Dungula Way, Moama NSW
Where to Next on the Murray River Drive?
You’ve made it to the end of our short 4-day Murray River road trip itinerary, but there are still so many places to explore in the region!
If you have a bit more time, you can check out these great destinations.
Drive North to Sydney
Making your way north, you’ll eventually arrive in Australia’s largest city, Sydney.
Home to perhaps the most stunning harbour in the world and more attractions and activities to enjoy than perhaps anywhere in the country, Sydney gets better every time you visit.
Check out our list of the best free things to do in Sydney.
Follow the Murray Towards Swan Hill
About two hours away from Moama you will hit the lovely town of Swan Hill in Victoria.
Boasting a Mediterranean climate, Swan Hill is a great outdoor destination, with top golf courses, lots of river-based activities and hiking around.
There’s also amazing wineries and restaurants to enjoy.
Head South to Melbourne
You’re only 3 hours drive to Melbourne, the most cosmopolitan city in the country, and if you haven’t been before it’s definitely worth a trip!
Check out our guide on how to spend 3 days in Melbourne.
Murray River Drive Tips
To help you make the most of your Murray River road trip, here are some of our best tips.
- There are lots of fuel stations. Unlike a lot of places in Australia, you’ll find lots of places to fill up the petrol tank along the way.
- Telstra and Optus have the best phone reception. These are the two phone companies we have plans with, and we almost always had at least 3G reception.
- Book ahead for popular activities. Things can get busy in the Murray region, and you don’t want to miss out on anything.
- The best time to visit is from September to May. During winter the weather can be unpredictable, but on the bright side, that does mean it’s less busy.
- Get your own car. It’d be practically impossible to try and do this itinerary with public transport. You can rent one from Albury if you don’t have your own.
DISCLAIMER: Our Murray River road trip was made possible thanks to our partnership with Visit NSW. All thoughts, opinions and delicious food and drinks consumed are, as always, our own.