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Murray River Towns
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An oasis in the desert, Mildura is a thriving monument to irrigation. It was given life by the waters of The Murray in 1885 when the Chaffey Brothers established an American-style irrigation colony. Their ingenuity reaped rewards. Since 1893, Mildura has produced some of Australia's most delicious fruits. Trellised fields, heavy with table and wine grapes and hectares of citrus fruits are today the modern harvest of the planning of a century ago. In fact, one seventh of Australia's citrus growers are concentrated here.

Rio Vista, the stately home of WB Chaffey, remains intact from this era. Rich combinations of stained glass, tiled floors, Murray pine and jarrah panelling created a stylish home. Today it is connected to the Mildura Regional Art Gallery which includes works by prominent Australian and British artists. It is a city of white-washed buildings, nurtured green lawns, brimming fountains and shady avenues, yet surrounded by the parched lands of this semi-desert region.

Also from this era, the Grand Hotel still stands proudly in Mildura. Its clean, simple lines are starkly accented by palm trees. It was once the Mildura Coffee Palace and later housed the Chaffey offices.

Mildura enjoys average daily temperatures of 20 degrees centigrade in winter and 30 degrees in summer. Its life blood, The Murray is spectacular. Wide and mature, its ancient banks are lined with mighty red river gums. Sulphur crested cockatoos and crimson rosellas nest here. Paddlesteamers parade along the water as colourful reminders of a time when The Murray was a major inland transport route. Today, these converted trading boats await to take you on short or extended cruises, safari tours and romantic dinner cruises along the river.

Mildura has some excellent accommodation facilities with ample caravan parks, restaurants and motels, providing you with an ideal base for the nearby attractions and the rest of your holiday.

Several fine wineries close to Mildura welcome you for wine tasting. Mildura Wines at Merbein was originally built by the industrious Chaffey brothers. Today a self guiding tour and video provides an informative overview of the property's development. Capogreco's Winery follows the Australian tradition for small family vineyards.

Set on the Broken Creek tributary of the Murray River, Numurkah was once the site of one of the country's most extensive soldier settlement schemes. The town has an amazing array of vintage machinery, and two historic homes, Coonanga Homestead and Brookfield Historic Holiday Farm and Museum, are open to the public. Brookfield houses a collection of aboriginal stone tools and household equipment. Strathmerton is home to the Kraft cheese factory which supplies about half Australia's annual consumption of cheese. It is also home to Australia's largest cacti gardens which host an annual Mexican Festival .

Robinvale was created as the community centre for a large post-war soldier settlement scheme. The town was named after Robin Cuttle who died in air combat near Villers Bretoneaux, France. Today Robinvale is the twin town to this northern French village.

Here, you can visit the district's vineyards and wineries, with such well known names as McWilliam's and Robinvale Wines. You should also see one of the town's more unusual claims to fame - the largest windmill in the Southern Hemisphere. Don't miss the fish ladder at Euston Weir. You can see one of nature's wonders at work, as fish instinctively climb their way up to a higher water level.

Over 100 years ago the pioneers decided to build their homesteads near the banks of The Murray. Nowhere is the spirit of the past more powerful than at Swan Hill. You will see the sunken hulk of an abandoned barge, and old punt crossing, homesteads and red gum wharfs awaiting traffic from another time.

Swan Hill was named by the explorer Major Thomas Mitchell in 1836. It was the result of a sleepless night he spent here, with black swans piercing the air with their distinctive cry from sunset to sunrise. However, his reports can't have been too bad. Soon after the journey, two large properties, bordering either side of The Murray, were taken up by graziers. These homesteads, Murray Downs and Tyntyndyer, still stand and are open to the public. They highlight home life in the early 1800s with furnishings and other implements spanning about 130 years. Tyntyndyer is said to be the first brick veneer home built in Australia.

The town, however, did not truly develop until a large punt began operating across the river in 1847. This entrepreneurial idea was to boost the growth of Swan Hill , as it was the only river crossing for many miles.

The remarkable Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement at Horseshoe Bend depicts the daily life and labours of Australia's early river settlers in detail. In period costume, bakers slide fragrant damper from wood ovens, printers compose type - laying each letter side by side, blacksmiths forge iron and confectioners delight all with authentic boiled sweets.

Aboard the riverboat restaurant 'Gem', moored at the entrance to the Pioneer Settlement, yabbies, witchetty grubs and kangaroo tail soup are served up for the adventurous. From the settlement you can also embark on a paddlesteamer adventure. 'Pyap' carries passengers to the impressive Murray Downs homestead. The 'Pyap' is not without a history herself. She has been a supply, hawking, fishing and woodcutting boat throughout her long and colourful life.

Today Swan Hill is an easy 336 kilometres from Melbourne. Camping grounds, many motels, houseboats and holiday flats will welcome you.

Nestled in the sandhills of the Murray River, Tocumwal boasts many examples of colonial architecture in the civic, industrial and residential parts of the town. During World War ll, the biggest aerodrome in the southern hemisphere was established in Tocumwal and there are still two flying and gliding schools based in the town.

Set on the banks of Lake Mulwala, these towns offer a variety of sporting pursuits - fishing, waterskiing, parasailing, sailboarding, canoeing, golf, lawn bowls and horseriding to name just a few. Lake Mulwala is a picturesque sight with its thousands of ghostly dead gum trees protruding from the water. Scenic cruises around the lake are available.

With its many species of water birds, Mulwala is a favorite spot for bird-watchers.

Impressive clubs offer poker machines, entertainment, and an array of food. There are all types of accommodation, from camping grounds to international standard resorts.

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