Exploring the Murray River region

By Justin Walker February 22, 2013
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The Murray River region surprises with its abundance of outdoor activities and birdwatching.

THE MURRAY RIVER is one of the world’s most famous rivers that is also a top-notch outdoor adventure destination, with its great mix of paddling and fishing.

What is easy to forget, though, is the “other side” of adventure on offer here: the excellent hiking (from short day walks to multi-day treks) and bird watching.

Add in some fantastic camping and a plethora of national parks (on both sides of the river – Victoria and NSW) to visit in pursuit of these activities, and it is easy to see why the Murray Regional Tourism Board is so keen to promote the area to active visitors.

The Murray River region on foot

The region’s various hikes take you through a number of different landscapes, including riverside jaunts, treks through vast ranges, and into the NSW/VIC outback at Mungo National Park.

Victoria’s Barmah National Park/Murray Valley National Park region includes short walks, such as the Broken Creek Loop Track (3.5km; through river red gum and grey box woodland, with the chance to see a number of water birds, such as pelicans, egrets and darters, as well as Aboriginal oven mounds) the Lakes Loop Track (4km) and the Gulpa Creek Walk a 5km sojourn beside the creek, surrounded by massive river red gums.

You’ll find more river red gums on the Wagirra Trail, following the Murray River. This track is around 5.5km. (Gulpa Creek is also a great canoeing location.) 

For longer foot-borne adventures, there is the Camel Pad Track, in Hattah-Kulkyne NP. It is a 10km haul one way but you’ll travel through a variety of terrain, ranging from Mallee scrub, sand dunes and salt flats.

Topping this – and one for the experienced multi-day hikers (although it can be cut into sections) is the 440km Hume-Hovell Track, which finishes in Albury, a the Hovell Tree on the banks of the Murray River. Even full day walk from the Hovell Tree is an adventure.

Birdwatching in the Murray River region

For birdwatchers, the Murray Region is a must-visit. The river region attracts a plethora of birdlife, with everything from common water birds, such as pelicans, through to the rarer, such as the endangered superb parrot and the azure kingfisher.

Barmah NP contains more than 236 bird species, with the superb parrot and azure kingfisher just two of the many.

For optimum birdwatching, Murray Valley NP’s Reed Beds Bird Hide at Mathoura allows you to get close to eastern great egrets or musk ducks, and nearby you’ll also spot yellow rosellas and superb wrens.

Yanga NP also has a brilliant bird hide, on the edge of Yanga Lake, while Narrandera Nature Reserve contains sacred kingfishers, glossy black cockatoos, southern boobooks, and plenty more.

We could continue to bang on about all the other walks, camp sites and birdwatching locations in the Murray Region but, instead, Australian Geographic Adventure is heading down to the area to check it out for ourselves – having a region with such a diverse range of activities just on our southwestern doorstep -and an easy drive down the Hume Highway – is just too tempting.

To read the full feature, grab a copy of Australian Geographic Adventure March/April.