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Cruising Australia's Majestic Murray River

Mar 7, 2008
Cruising is the only way to discover the serene beauty of Australia's largest inland waterway. A Murray River cruise allows you to experience the magic of inland Australia in leisurely comfort.

There's something special about cruising on a large river. It is a peaceful, relaxing voyage of discovery. Australia's longest river, the Murray stretches over 2500km from the Australian Alps to the Southern Ocean.

Like the Mississippi and Rhine, it is an economic and tourist powerhouse. Sadly its future is clouded by drought and climate change.

This mighty river has a catchment covering over 20% of Australia's land mass and supplies most of Adelaide's water as well as a huge fruit and wine industry. The river is also a major tourist attraction and no visit to South Australia would be complete without a boat cruise.

Most Murray River cruises operate out of Adelaide and you have a wide choice. If you wish to spend a few leisurely days on the river, a number of companies run 2 to 4 day cruises, exploring longer stretches and mooring overnight at selected spots. On board meals and accommodation are provided and the beauty and serenity of sunset and sunrise are memorable holiday moments.

If your time is short, a full day tour from Adelaide, including a short river cruise, is your answer. I chose Prime Mini Tours because of the tour features, the price and the fact that you can cruise on the Murray for a full 3 hours. Other cruises only spend an hour on the river and this is insufficient time for you to enjoy the true beauty of this lovely waterway.

Prime is also a small, family run business based on personal attention. They provide tour coach transport to and from the river base at Mannum and have an arrangement with Jester Cruises, the boat operators.

Helen and Geoff were amiable hosts, and as our cruise trundled up the river, we were provided with lunch, while Helen entertained us with a running commentary on the river, its interesting history and its abundant wildlife.

The visual impact is stunning and there was an overwhelming feeling of serenity that only a cruise can provide. Helen pointed out places of interest as other cruise boats, vineyards and numerous varieties of water birds passed by. She also mentioned that as a result of the drought, the river level is constantly dropping and this lifeline, relied upon by so many people, may soon dry up.

Further up the river, the old port town of Echuca is another base for cruises. Echuca is home to many houseboats and they can be hired for as long as you choose. These floating homes are the most comfortable way to explore the region.

Many, including "Luxury 5", provide state-of-art comfort for those seeking more than a Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn adventure. Houseboats can be moored almost anywhere by securing them to a couple of stout trees.

At sunset, you will be enveloped by the tranquility of the bush as the Murray casts its lazy spell. Time to sit on the deck, enjoy a sumptious meal, washed down with a glass of local red and experience the serenity of inland Australia.

The message is clear. If you are visiting this part of Australia, go where the river runs, but do it soon. Experience and enjoy this Australian icon while you can.
About the Author
Graeme Lanham is an Australian travel writer. In his new Ebook "Travel Tips Australia", he invites you to share the magic experiences and "must see" destinations of his homeland. Visit: http://www.traveltipsaustralia.com
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