Leaving Griffith and travelling further south, we sadly only had another two stops before arriving home.  The run from Griffith to Echuca went really well with very little traffic all the way except for a plague of locusts – did they make a mess to the front of the Paj!  We decided to stay on the NSW side of the Murray River (at Moama), as the park was based right on the river and we were able to have a riverfront site.  What a great place!  The park was absolutely enormous, it was well set up, and in fact, it was the largest park we’d ever seen…between the many cabins for tourists, the set ups for the permanents, and the powered sites for vans/tents, the caretakers told us that the park could hold 2,000 people when fully booked!  Lucky for us it was the week before Christmas and the park was still almost empty, with the onslaught of holidaymakers due only a few days after our departure.

Staying right on the Murray was great – the birdlife was prolific (heaps of long-billed corellas), although someone forget to tell them to sleep at night.  Talk about noisy!  We found that Echuca itself still has a lot of “old world charm”, with many historical buildings and lovely family-owned businesses lining the streets.  The Echuca Port, which was the busiest inland port years ago, has a great museum with informative displays of the history of the port, and of course it is the location for us tourists to take a ride on one of four old paddlesteamers.  Interestingly, we learned that many of the paddlesteamers from years gone by were built at either Milang or Goolwa before making their way up the Murray and Darling Rivers.  We went for a relaxing ride on the PS Adelaide which was originally used for carting wool, then in later years it was used for carting logs, however the paddlesteamer now spends her days carting tourists up and down the river.

Another place we frequented was the Echuca store of the Beechworth Bakery (yummo)!  We can recommend the coffee and morning teas here – the views of the river from their deck outside aren’t too bad either!

Located close to the Echuca Port is the Holden Museum which Grant was keen to visit, having been a Holden man in his younger years.  It was a great place to spend a couple of hours checking out all the old models, including the first model made in Australia in the late1940’s.

Our final leg for this journey was a stop for a couple of nights at Swan Hill – we again chose a park located right on the river where we were able to put the boat in before heading home.   I know Grant was eager to get the boat in, and before you know it, the van was unhitched, the boat unloaded and launched, and we were away!

As we were cruising, it was very clear that water had been released into the Murray from upstream, as the water was flowing very quickly and had a considerable amount of debris which made boating interesting.  We’d heard there was more rain forecast for up north, so there was some concern from locals that it was only a matter of time before some areas along the Murray may be flooded as more water would be released into the river.  We ended up taking the boat out a couple of times – it was interesting to see the differences between the Murray and the Darling Rivers….both were pretty in their own way.  The boat trips were a really nice way to spend the last couple of days on this trip.

Swan Hill has also over the past few years been designated as a wine district.  A visit to Andrew Peace Wines west of Swan Hill saw us testing many cool-climate whites and reds – mostly easy drinking now.

Well our last day finally arrived…it was time to pack up for the last time of our shakedown trip and head the 500kms home. We both agree that we’ve had an amazing 7 weeks – learnt heaps, had a few adventures!!, got ourselves into a bit of a travel routine, and recognised the need to make some changes to our set up, in both car and van.

Thanks for sharing our journey with us thus far, and we hope you will join us again when our trip continues around the middle of January, as we head back over the border into Victoria.  Hopefully the rain and signs of any flooding don’t come that far south, but given that we’ve been given the nickname of “rain gods”, we’re not so sure!

We wish everyone all the best for the New Year!

Grant & Linda.

Kms Travelled Total  8,512