Bright blue skies and the mighty Murray – discover a special type of country life
STORY:THE SPLENDID WORD PHOTOGRAPHY:VISIT VICTORIA
The twin towns of Echuca Moama straddle the Murray River which marks the border between north central Victoria and southern NSW. About a two-and-a-half hour drive directly north as the crow flies from Melbourne and about nine hours south of Sydney. The capitals feel close enough to access whenever the need arises and far enough away to reap the full benefits of a country lifestyle.
The mighty Murray River acts as the pulse that cuts its way through the towns and has been the lifeblood of this area for centuries. The river-based Yorta Yorta people have called it home for thousands of years and continue to play a vital role in the preservation of nature and culture. The river is backdropped by towering ancient gums that throw off a powerful eucalyptus scent you really only notice after being away for a little while and returning home. The cacophony of squawking cockies and laughing kookaburras that sing to the sunset each evening also become amplified and noticeable only after time away. Their presence and clamour is a constant and connecting reminder of the wonders of the surrounding bushland.
The whistle bell of the iconic paddlesteamers also reverberates through the towns, signaling their stalwart presence in this colonial era historical site, The Port of Echuca, once Australia’s largest inland port. Nowadays ‘The Port’ acts as the town’s central square – a picturesque, pedestrian-only meeting point to access some of the town’s best bush tracks, parks and coffee.
Think solid blue skies and glistening natural waters, coupled with some genuinely serious proffers of good coffee, food and wine and you’re starting to get a sense of life in Echuca. With soil conditions similar to Tuscany, Echuca Moama has so much great wine on offer and some really great, picturesque spots to sample it. One of the paddlesteamers will even transport you to a local winery and bring you home again (so long as you can safely manage the riverbank and gangway after a wine-paired lunch).
“It’s bush without even a whiff of countrified-kitsch. It’s country life and all its trimmings, balanced beautifully with city-like offerings.”
Community clubs and events are abundant and cater to worlds that extend beyond the typical country offerings. Triathlon and running clubs are welcoming and open to the most timid or ambitious athletes. Art classes, slow living groups and art house movie lovers’ clubs are just some examples of the variety available. Events within the community are equally as diverse. The Southern 80 ski race happens each February and consistently draws crowds of up to 100,000 each year. The yearly Riverboats Music Festival has cemented itself firmly in the hearts of local and out of town punters since it began in 2012. Drawing some of the biggest and most celebrated Australian talent, it is set in a picturesque natural amphitheatre which one year compelled Paul Kelly to stop, mid-song, to remark upon its beauty. It’s a family-friendly, relaxed atmosphere and a weekend loved by locals young and old.
The town’s facilities are plentiful. The new hospital is large and well resourced and there are a wide variety of local schools that cater well for the needs of all families. From public to private, Catholic to Anglican, all are headed by some of the state’s most excellent and passionate educators. The properties in town vary from the ultra modern to charming Victorian era dwellings. Out of town offers a mix of large acreage, river frontage and bush backdrops, most within walking distance to a food joint, but far enough away to feel removed from it all. Median house prices have been steady and unwavering in Echuca Moama which always seems somewhat immune to factors that influence house prices in other areas.
It’s bush without even a whiff of countrified-kitsch. It’s country life and all its trimmings balanced beautifully with city-like offerings. Echuca Moama really is a wonderful, family-friendly spot with all the quiet peacefulness and community connectedness expected of a destination this size.
The Traditional Custodians of the Campaspe Shire are the Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung; and Yorta Yorta people
WATTLE ROAD 🖤 It’s just the right size to have everything you need plus community connection. And wow, what a beautiful part of the world this is.
DISTANCE FROM MELBOURNE: 223 kms
POPULATION: 21,000 (Echuca Moama combined)
WHO LIVES HERE?
According to the 2016 Census:
♦ The median age of people in Echuca was 43 years. Children aged 0 – 14 years made up 18% of the population and people aged 65 years and over made up 22.3%.
♦ Of the families in Echuca), 38.2% were couple families with children, 43.9% were couple families without children and 16.8% were one parent families.
♦ 85.1% of people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth were England 1.7%, New Zealand 1.0%, Philippines 0.5%, India 0.4% and Scotland 0.3%.
♦ The most common occupations included professionals 15.7%, technicians and trades workers 15.3%, community and personal service workers 13.8%, labourers 13.5%, and sales workers 12.1%.
CLIMATE: Cool winters, hot summers – this area has more sunny days than Queensland – and mostly mild in between. January average temperatures, max 30.7, min 14.6. July average temperatures, max 13.1, min 3.2
MAJOR EMPLOYERS: Healthcare – Echuca Regional Health, tourism, retail, manufacturing, construction
SCHOOLS: There are six primary schools, including one specialist school, across Echuca Moama, one government secondary school, one Catholic secondary school, one Anglican P-12 and one Christian faith school (P-10).
HEALTH CARE: Echuca Regional Health oversees the hospital, a community cancer service, allied health services and a disability referral service. Residents can also access a maternal and child health centre and a large family medical practice that has two clinics in the area. A range of mental health care practitioners operate in Echuca, in addition to a branch of Bendigo Health’s Regional Community Mental Health Service.
NBN CONNECTION: Fibre To The Node (FTTN)
Property prices: In Echuca, the median sale price of houses is $420,000 and $280,000 for units. In Moama, the median sale price of houses is $460,000 and $275,000 for units.
SPORT AND RECREATION: Large indoor swimming pool, outdoor pool, velodrome, football, soccer and hockey fields, netball courts, indoor basketball stadium, gyms, skatepark, indoor play/jumping centre, roller skating rink, cinema, mountain biking trails, and bucket loads of river activities.
ARTS AND CULTURE: Foundry Art Space, Alton Gallery, Echuca Moama Theatre Company
COUNCILS: www.campaspe.vic.gov.au and www.murrayriver.nsw.gov.au
Life in Echuca Moama is really easy. Most places can be reached within minutes and the walking and bike tracks make being active a straightforward and welcome inclusion in the everyday. I love that pretty much wherever you are you can spot trees and hear birds, and that the river is there to offer itself to you in whichever ways you want or need. At any point of any day, a good dose of nature is quite literally right outside your window and there’s definitely some constant, calming salve in that. The town is small enough to feel connected, though big enough not to feel suffocating.
The offers of good coffee are abundant and food choices are varied and genuinely divine, as is the wine. The settings for these offerings are eye-wateringly picturesque too, and the perfect place to meet friends, with families thoughtfully catered for.
The opportunities for cultural and community engagement transcend Echuca Moama from just being a ‘nice spot along the Murray’, to a place that ticks boxes beyond the stereotypical. There are art classes, movie-lovers’ clubs and yoga studios – all welcoming and all telling of the calibre of people being drawn to our town.
It’s a wonderful place to grow and connect, to raise a family or expand a career. I really do love living here and think we have the best of the country, balanced with all the trimmings of city life without the hectic pace.”
Travel time is approximately 60 minutes.
TO ECHUCA MOAMA
FIND A PROPERTY
48 Pavone Road, Gunbower
4 2 2
12 Elm Street, Echuca
4 2 2
11 Maidensmith Drive, Moama
7 4 2
3 Healey Court, Moama
4 2 3