Murray River – Australia (03.06.16)
In the summer heat, the Murray River calmly meanders through the Australian countryside like a 2,520 km vein of coolant, supplying water to over 1.5 million households, fertile farmland and prolific wildlife.
The third longest navigable river in the world (after the Amazon and Nile), the Murray traverses the states of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. Apart from being one of Australia’s most enjoyable tourism attractions, it is essential for sustaining irrigation systems, giving it the reputation of the ‘food bowl of the nation’.
Held in high esteem, the Murray has great cultural significance for the indigenous aboriginal Australians. Any first time visitor will soon come to understand this, given its charming riverbank landscapes accentuated by a variety of local river life, including impressive birding opportunities.
As, over time, the river’s role as a water highway to the interior became more and more important, 19th century paddle steamers began to make their legendary mark, driven both by the need to communicate with inland farming settlements, and by the gold rush. To this day the paddle steamers are supported by a charming collection of Murray River houseboats, all of which continue to sustain a local population as well as important visitor trade.
My abiding memory of the Murray River is of a calm, enticing waterway dominated by huge herons, old-school houseboats and heat-busting swimming opportunities. The opportunity to relax, explore and holiday on the river should not be missed. Especially when travelling between Adelaide and the Coorong’s lagoon system on the way to the Great Ocean Road, where I highly recommend a stop-off. Even if you only manage a couple of days, you will be seduced by the river and the welcome break it offers from the long roads and dramatic coastal areas.
As these Murray Bridge region photos show, the pace of life will soon wash over you. Long lazy afternoons, riverside, with a pace akin to a summer hang out with a Tom Sawyer sort of character. The only difference being that if you are lucky you will see kangaroos, goannas, wombats, emu, turtles, lizards as well as an abundance of fish and birds.