Flag Inn Nirebo
251 Hare St, Echuca, VI 3564
More about Echuca
Water carrier built with pride
ECHUCA'S HISTORIC WHARF
Travel Tips for Echuca
Barmah State Park
A beautiful wetland area of the Murray, the alluvial plains forested with old red gums, and, with the swampy surrounds frequently flooded in winter, it is an important breeding ground for many bird species. As you move away from the network of streams and creeks of the Murray, the land inevitably gives way to drier ground and a vast concentration of red gums, producing the largest remaining red gum forest in the world.
There are heaps of walking and driving tracks, bush camping, fishing, canoe hire or a cruise at weekends. its a real escape place - highlighted by the fact its not the easiest place in the world to get to. From Echuca on Northern Highway, passing over the Murray River into NSW and onto the Cobb Highway. Barmah is about 35 kms to the north of Echuca - a right hand turn off the Cobb Highway will take you back across the Murray and back into Victoria to the service town of Barmah. A dirt track (excellent condition) takes you the 7kms or so to the State park.
Echuca - A Future in the Past
"A heritage remembered"
At one time Echuca was Victoria's largest river port. It is this aspect of its history that has become the basis for the town's rejuvenation as a tourism centre, particularly since the restoration of the old port area began in 1973.
Part of the old massive 1.2km redgum wharf remains and this is the centrepiece of the tourism magnet that are the paddlesteamers.
Again they ply the local waters belching through their whistles, though only for purely recreational, nostalgic and tourism purposes but there are more here than any single port in the world.
Mind you, having said that, any two large Mississippi paddlewheelers would probably have more tonnage than Echuca's entire fleet.
The survival of many original buildings enabled a realistic renovation of the old streetscape. The port area's authentic appearance not unnaturally attracted the makers of All The Rivers Run who used it as the setting for their television series on the riverboat era.
Echuca is situated 205 km north of Melbourne via the Hume and Northern Highways and 96 m above sea-level in a largely irrigated pastoral and agricultural district. There is still some manufacturing and stock saleyards in town but tourism is the main industry now.
Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by the Yorta-Yorta Aborigines. Explorer Charles Sturt passed through the district while overlanding cattle from Sydney to Adelaide in 1838 but the first European in the immediate area was a British-born ex-convict named James Maiden, who took up the Perricoota station around the mid 1840's. The area became known as Maiden's Punt when he established a punt service and an inn on the northern bank of the river around 1845 at the twin town called Moama. It was the first cattle crossing on the Murray River and thus became a major access route. A settlement grew as other businesses began to cluster around the inn and thus Moama came to be gazetted in 1851.
Meanwhile, in 1850, another ex-convict named Henry Hopwood took over Isaac White's punt at a point further downstream. Hence this latter area was initially known as 'Hopwood's Ferry'. In 1853 he added a slab hotel, ensuring his custom by closing down the punt at nightfall just before the arrival of the passenger coaches.
In 1852 the Mary Ann became the first paddlesteamer to trade on the Murray; Moama being the outermost stop on its maiden voyage. However, it was Hopwood who capitalised on the event and laid the foundations of Echuca's success by suggesting the government establish a river port on the southern bank.
The river trade was the key factor to the economic development of this part of the nation as it enabled the opening up of Australia's interior, the extension of land given over to primary industries (particularly wool) and the capacity of those properties to transport their goods to the national and international marketplace.