The Murray River passes through three of Australia’s States - yet we somehow have managed to miss it on all our previous adventures. Recently though, the time finally came to check out this big ol' river and see what all the fuss was about. What we found far exceeded our expectations, and we discovered that this region is home to some of the best camping, kayaking and all round good times that we’ve experienced anywhere in Aus.
The Murray begins high in the Snowy Mountains - but that was a bit chilly for us - so we started our journey at the border town of Albury. From Albury, we stocked up on the essentials, and headed West to our first spot - Lake Mulwala. This huge lake might not sound all that exciting, but as we came closer and closer, it started to look pretty cool. The lake is filled with thousands of giant, dead gumtrees, which create a surreal and somewhat eery atmosphere. We found a free camp right on the water, and with no one else in sight, set up our home for the night and collected a heap of fire wood to keep the chill away. Kayaking through the touring ghost trees at sunset was pretty amazing, and the best part was we had it all to ourselves. Early the next morning (like 3am early) I got up to watch the moon set - and I can safely say that watching the bright yellow full moon slowly sink between the dead limbs of countless trees is now one of my favourite experiences. The next morning, after a couple of hours sleep, we watched the sun come up over the lake, had a quick fire-cooked brekky, then headed on our way.
After a quick stop at the local vinnies, we headed further West, following the mighty Murray through endless farming lands and open fields. After an easy few hours of driving, we had arrived at our next camp spot in Barmah National Park. This is a new national park, and once you leave the sealed roads and hit the dirt it feels like you could be anywhere. After a couple of kilometres of winding dirt tracks, we found a killer spot - and decided to spend the night. Again, there was not a single other person in sight, and we didn't see a soul for the whole day. We kayaked up river, collected some firewood and then settled in to watch sunset whilst sitting around the fire with a couple of cold drinks. The next morning was eerily still, and the river was steaming right outside our door. I couldn't resist a quick sunrise kayak, followed by a nice fire to warm up my frozen feet.
After a quiet morning on the river, we packed up and hit the road again - this time heading away from the river to hit up a few of the local wineries. Our favourite was The Old School Meedery, which served us up some tasty Mulled Meed and more some best wines we’ve ever had. The afternoon somehow went past really fast, and by the time we finished at the wineries, it was time to find a new camp spot. We headed down an unmarked road by chance trying to get closer to the river, and stumble across an old faded sign saying “BENARCA FOREST”. It sounded pretty cool, so we continued along the narrow dirt road, following the old signs saying “beach”. After a few twists and turns and a bunch of faded signs we arrived at the end of the road and quickly jumped out to see if there really was a “beach”. And yep, sure enough, we had found a camp spot (free) with our own private little beach and stretch of river! We spent the rest of the arvo swimming in the river, then warming up on the beach. The water was glassy still, and the only sounds we could hear was a whole heap of birds. A nice little fire with some wine and cheese finished off the afternoon perfectly, with another killer night on the river.
The next morning we awoke to a strange mist that created some pretty crazy light rays that we couldn't resist getting a few shots of. After the mist faded away, and we calmed down a little, we headed into town for our Paddle Steamer tour we had booked the day before. Neither of us really knew anything about Paddle Steamers (or boats in general), but when we learned we were headed to a winery, we decided to go for it. The Paddle Steamer left from Moana, and we were super lucky to have another perfectly still and cloudless day to slowly make our way up river on this Steam powered boat. Whilst not the fastest boat we have ever been on, it definitely had the most character (next goal is to live on one). It finally arrived at Morrison’s Winery, and we were rewarded with an amazing lunch followed by a tasting of some of the regions best wines. The return journey was much more exciting, and I even managed to lose my phone when running through the vineyards.
The next day, we made a beeline west, and drove most of the afternoon to try and make it to Mungo National Park for sunset. We didn't make it, but found a nice little field to spend the night in instead and again - woke up to a killer sunrise the next morning.
Another big morning of driving and we started to see signs guiding us towards Mungo, and not long after this, the sealed roads stopped and the last 100km of journey was on good old-fashion dirt roads. After a couple of hours of bumps, rattles and a whole heap of dust - we finally made it to Mungo National Park. The whole area use to be a series of inland lakes thousands of years ago, but today it is a completely flat flood plain with the occasional hill and odd tree. The area we were most excited to see is known as “the Walls of China” and as we approached the walls at sunset, we were seriously amazed. The formations seemed completely out of this world, and the sheer size of them left us in a daze. We spent the afternoon exploring - finding more and more unique locations, before returning to the van just as the full moon started to rise. The next morning we were gifted with another cracker sunrise, and we just had to get a couple more pics of this crazy, crazy area.
After what seemed like days of driving, we eventually made our way back to civilisation, and left the Murray behind. We were so surprised at just how amazing this area is, if it isn't on your list of things to see - I seriously think it should be.
A big thank you to SkyTech Innovations for helping me to get the nice smooth Gimbal shots in the video. If you are after anything for filmmaking or drones - they are the ones to go to!