Up and off this morning to hit the road to Echuca. I did not want to end our trip without a visit to the iconic Murray River which is why we had decided to head north out of Melbourne. The drive from Bendigo to Echuca is only around 100kms which meant we could drive there, set up and still have a good part of the day left to go exploring. We chose to stay in a park that was right in the heart of the town so that we would not have to unhitch the van. After setting up we headed off for a walk out the gates of the park and found ourselves immediately on the banks of the Murray – Victoria on one side and NSW on the other. The banks were lined with houseboats, both private and those for hire and just a little further up was Port Echuca where the paddle steamer boats were moored. They are such elegant boats giving a real feel for the history of this region and the important part they played. We were lucky enough that a cruise was just about to leave on the cute little Emmy Lou so we quickly bought tickets and jumped on board. The first thing we came across was the steam engine - a beautiful piece of machinery and obviously very well maintained. At the other end of the boat was a little restaurant offering light lunches, tea and coffee and an outdoor seating area to be able to sit down and enjoy it all. There were even blankets supplied to rug up against the chill. A steep stairway led up to the 2nd level where there was a glassed in room at the front where you can enjoy the view while being protected from the wind. Out the back there was a lovely sunny spot which we managed to commandeer for a good part of the trip. The middle section of this level was fitted out with tiny but very cute little cabins where you can sleep if doing an overnight trip on the Emmy Lou. Another set of stairs led up into the wheel house where you could have a chat to the skipper and watch the effortless way he steers the boat down the river. The cruise traveled down the river for about an hour giving us a real feel for this peaceful means of travel and at one point, giving us views of the erosion caused by the recent flood waters along the river banks. It is a beautiful river, wide, meandering and very serene and you are reminded of the very important part it played in linking the lives of those who lived along its edges.
2 hours later the Emmy Lou delivered us back to the Port and we then had a wander firstly through the pioneer village and then through the rest of the town. By days end we both agreed that Echuca is a cute little town and well worth the visit.