Australia’s most famous river set in the heart of the wine and wheat belt, the Murray River is the perfect place to cruise if you’re searching for a relaxing holiday with beauty as far as the eye can see. The third longest river on Earth after the Amazon and the Nile, the Murray River stretches on for more than 2,735km, beginning in the Australian Alps in NSW and winding its way through the Australian outback before emptying in the Southern Ocean in South Australia. Here’s what you need to know while cruising Australia’s Murray River for a full-fledged experience.
What You Need to Know about Cruising Australia’s Murray River
When’s the best time to cruise the Murray River?
You can cruise along the Murray River at any time of year, but there is a bit of seasonal variation. The lower part of the river where the cruises travel has a similar climate to Adelaide, which is often described as “hot Mediterranean”.
During the summer months, the days are long and warm. Temperatures range between 16C and 35C (although they can spike up to 41C, accompanied by a serious risk of bushfires) and sunset around 8.30pm. In winter, the days are considerably shorter and cooler. Temperatures fluctuate between 6C and 17C, with sunset around 4.30pm and a relatively high chance of showers.
For the perfect balance of pleasantly warm temperatures and a low chance of rainfall, you’re best off cruising the Murray River during spring or early autumn.
Where are the ports of call?
Itineraries differ according to the length of the cruise, but here are some highlights that feature on most Murray River cruises:
Blanchetown – one of the first river settlements in South Australia, this small town is home to a wonderful collection of historic buildings, including an original police station, post office and pub.
Loxton – often described as “The Garden Town of the Riverland”, this historic village is famous for its alluring gardens and the Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre, complete with scenic trails and abundant wildlife.
Mannum – blessed with history, heritage and natural beauty, Mannum also features many original buildings; side-by-side with cafes, shops and a flourishing houseboat industry.
Murray Bridge – much more than the name suggests, Murray Bridge is a scenic small town known for its charming walking trails and action-packed water sports. Just outside the town is the Monarto Zoological Park, a free-range zoo and breeding ground that specialises in grassland and arid animals.
What will I see cruising Australia’s Murray River?
Australia’s most popular river offers an amazing opportunity to see the local wildlife. More than 350 species of birds (including emus, swamp hens, red parrots and wood ducks) live along the river bank. You will also spot grey kangaroos, long-nosed fur seals and Southern hairy-nosed wombats.
The captivating fauna is just a fraction of the beauty you’ll see along the river. Towering golden cliffs that look incredible at sunset, the 2 largest red gum forests in the world; and charming farmland that stretches as far as the eye can see provide you with a myriad of stunning sights.
Which companies cruise along the Murray River?
Captain Cook is the best choice for cruising Australia’s Murray River. The Murray Princess is a 120-passenger stern paddlewheeler, oozing traditional grandeur in the form of polished wood, gold trimming; and a fabulous paddle wheel encased in glass. It’s designed as a replica of an 1800s Mississippi steamboat. But it’s diesel driven, meaning you get to cruise in style but not at a snail’s pace.
The ship features one dining room, cabins with private bathrooms (including 4 adapted cabins), 2 bars, shop, library and small spa with sauna. All meals and several excursions are included in the price of the cruise; plus several tasting experiences at vineyards and cellar doors; as well as a special campfire barbecue on the river bank.