Echuca

By: Jamie Horne

Moama is approximately 215kms from Melbourne and 91kms north of Bendigo located on the Murray River on the Victoria - New South Wales Border. The Moama side of the Murray River provides some excellent accommodation options, a small shopping enclave and the launch point for a number of houseboat hire businesses but it is the Echuca side of the river that now dwarfs its cross river neighbour in both size and attractions.

Echuca is said to have been founded by ex-convict Henry Hopwood in 1850 who established a settlement which was originally known as 'Hopwoods Ferry'. Some five years early in 1845 'Maidens Punt', renamed Moama in 1851, was established by James Maiden, also an ex convict. By coincidence both Henry Hopwood and James Maiden were convicted on the same day and in the same court in Lancashire England both for burglaries.

The twin towns become an important point for stockmen and travellers crossing the Murray River and an infrastructure of hotels and other services were soon developed. As the town prospered it also established itself as a major settlement along the Murray River for the burgeoning paddlesteamer transport industry which grew dramatically following the rivers navigation in 1853 by the Lady Augusta and Mary Ann.

The three story high Echuca Wharf was built from local River Redgum in 1865 and in 1879 it was extended to a total length of 1.2kms. By 1944 the constant felling of trees resulted in a wood shortage and large 80% of the wharf was demolished.

Paddlesteamers lost favour as Australia's national rail network was established and provided a quicker and more cost effective means of transport which for a short period of time left Echuca dormant until it began to evolve as a popular regional Victorian tourism destination.

Today the towns continues as a popular New South Wales and
destinations with a number of paddlesteamers now operating tours on the Murray River. Visitors also have the opportunity to discover some the towns' colourful history around the historic Port of Echuca precinct and wander into the more modern parts of town for other shopping and services.

Both Echuca and Moama offer and excellent range of
">Accommodation
, restaurant and shopping options and should be seen over a stay of at least 3 - 4 days.

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