"Echuca - A Future in the Past" Top 5 Page for this destination Echuca by iandsmith

Echuca Travel Guide: 57 reviews and 148 photos

A heritage remembered

At one time Echuca was Victoria's largest river port. It is this aspect of its history that has become the basis for the town's rejuvenation as a tourism centre, particularly since the restoration of the old port area began in 1973.
Part of the old massive 1.2km redgum wharf remains and this is the centrepiece of the tourism magnet that are the paddlesteamers.
Again they ply the local waters belching through their whistles, though only for purely recreational, nostalgic and tourism purposes but there are more here than any single port in the world.
Mind you, having said that, any two large Mississippi paddlewheelers would probably have more tonnage than Echuca's entire fleet.
The survival of many original buildings enabled a realistic renovation of the old streetscape. The port area's authentic appearance not unnaturally attracted the makers of All The Rivers Run who used it as the setting for their television series on the riverboat era.
Echuca is situated 205 km north of Melbourne via the Hume and Northern Highways and 96 m above sea-level in a largely irrigated pastoral and agricultural district. There is still some manufacturing and stock saleyards in town but tourism is the main industry now.
Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by the Yorta-Yorta Aborigines. Explorer Charles Sturt passed through the district while overlanding cattle from Sydney to Adelaide in 1838 but the first European in the immediate area was a British-born ex-convict named James Maiden, who took up the Perricoota station around the mid 1840's. The area became known as Maiden's Punt when he established a punt service and an inn on the northern bank of the river around 1845 at the twin town called Moama. It was the first cattle crossing on the Murray River and thus became a major access route. A settlement grew as other businesses began to cluster around the inn and thus Moama came to be gazetted in 1851.
Meanwhile, in 1850, another ex-convict named Henry Hopwood took over Isaac White's punt at a point further downstream. Hence this latter area was initially known as 'Hopwood's Ferry'. In 1853 he added a slab hotel, ensuring his custom by closing down the punt at nightfall just before the arrival of the passenger coaches.
In 1852 the Mary Ann became the first paddlesteamer to trade on the Murray; Moama being the outermost stop on its maiden voyage. However, it was Hopwood who capitalised on the event and laid the foundations of Echuca's success by suggesting the government establish a river port on the southern bank.
The river trade was the key factor to the economic development of this part of the nation as it enabled the opening up of Australia's interior, the extension of land given over to primary industries (particularly wool) and the capacity of those properties to transport their goods to the national and international marketplace.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Well preserved history, great pie shop
  • Cons:Can get hot in summer
  • In a nutshell:An inland town with much to see and do.
  • Last visit to Echuca: Sep 2006
  • Intro Updated Sep 7, 2006
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Reviews (12)

Comments (6)

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo
    Sep 17, 2006 at 1:26 PM

    Great. Some wonderfully interesting information here.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jan 6, 2006 at 4:42 PM

    I found this page through Google while looking for something else entirely. But I'll be glad to forget about that other stuff for a few minutes, as this looks like a very interesting little place. Nice tips and photos.

  • Kate-Me's Profile Photo
    Sep 26, 2005 at 9:05 AM

    Fantastic Echuca page Ian! Just back from our first trip back there in years. Yes, Beechworth bakery's a real winner...even one in Bendigo now!

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2005 at 8:52 AM

    A very interesting page, Ian! Lots of great historical facts and great photos of this romantic way of life! It is nice to know that the beautiful old boats have been successfully resurrected!

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Jun 17, 2005 at 7:06 AM

    Leeches! Beechworth Bakery description was great reading; certainly made me hungry for breakfast. I would enjoy visiting this restored area.

  • keeweechic's Profile Photo
    Jun 5, 2005 at 5:54 AM

    Been there and done that too:-) Got to love those old riverboats. I didn't know about the beechworth Bakery.. bugger! :-) A great old town.


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