From its source close to Mount Kosciuszko high in the Australian Alps, the Murray River runs for around 2700km and forms the border between Victoria and New South Wales until it crosses into South Australia (someone got a ruler out for the rest of the border to the coast), and although the actual watercourse is in New South Wales, the Victoria bank is far more interesting and more populous. After the entire length was navigated in 1836, the river became the route along which cattle were driven from New South Wales to the newly established town of Adelaide, and later in the century there was a thriving paddle-steamer trade on the lower reaches of the river, from Wentworth on the New South Wales side and Mildura through to Echuca.

In 1864, Echuca was linked by railway to Melbourne, stimulating the river trade in the upper reaches, and thus became a major inland port, the furthest extent of the navigable river. At the height of the paddle-steamer era, Mildura was still a run-down, rabbit-infested cattle station, but in 1887 the Chaffey brothers, brought over from Canada, instituted irrigation projects that now support dairy farms, vineyards, vegetable farms and citrus orchards throughout northwestern Victoria. Between Mildura and Echuca, Swan Hill marks the transition to sheep, cattle and wheat country; the Pioneer Settlement here explores the extraordinarily hard lives of the early settlers. Above Echuca the Murray flows through more settled regions, but also the Barmah wetlands, an ecosystem of international significance.

Nowadays paddle steamers cruise for leisure, and are the best way to enjoy the river and admire magnificent river red gums lining its banks, as well as the huge array of birds and other wildlife that the Murray sustains. Renting a houseboat is also a relaxing (if expensive) way to travel.

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