After many very successful years of operation, we are delighted to be able to again offer this very special and unique tour to one of the most exciting and picturesque regions of Australia. The Murray River, at over 1600 miles long, is Australia’s largest river and has played a major role in the settlement and development of inland parts of Australia. Mark Twain compared it favourably with the mighty Mississippi when he visited in the 19th century and the river was once a bustling highway with many paddle steamers plying its length carrying produce and people to and from the settlements along its banks. Those days are long gone, but the river region is still a hive of activity and interest with lush farmland, orchards and vineyards contrasting with the red outback at their doorstep.
The itinerary will show you the Murray region as we spend 4 days cruising downstream on our boat, stopping at points of interest en route and overnighting at country hotels and motor inns at the settlements along the river. The cruise vessel for the 2024 tour will again be the modern and fully equipped “Spirit of the Murray” with its spacious upper deck providing the perfect vantage point as the boat passes towering cliffs, sleepy lagoons and Red Gum forests. Add to this, the beauty and grandeur of the Great Ocean Road between Adelaide and Melbourne, the wonderful wine growing region of South Australia, close to the picturesque city of Adelaide and the excitement and vitality (and wonderful shopping) of Melbourne and you have a great tour waiting for you.
- Melbourne – city of parks and gardens
- Sovereign Hill Historic Village, Ballarat
- Echuca, with guided tour of the river port
- Mildura gateway to the Murray River
- 4 days / 3 nights cruising the Murray River downstream on the “Spirit of the Murray”
- Adelaide, the wine capital of Australia
- Great Ocean Road between Adelaide and Melbourne
- “Spirit of Coorong” eco-cruise on Lake Alexandrina
- Naracoorte with visit to the World Heritage Fossil Cave
- Penola & St Mary McKillop Centre
- Warrnambool & Lorne overnight spent at these coastal towns
Friday 29 March Auckland – Adelaide City and Seaside Glenelg (D)
An early start this morning, as we make our way to the International Terminal and check in for our 8.20am flight to Adelaide. On arrival, we enjoy a morning tour of the city’s main attractions which will allow you to get your bearings. Our Coach Captain will share his local knowledge on things to see and do including the charm and character of the buildings and famous landmarks. There will be time for lunch (on own account) in Glenelg before we transfer to our hotel for a 2-night stay. Dinner is included this evening.
Saturday 30 March Adelaide – Coorong Cruise – Adelaide (B, L)
A leisurely start this morning before we travel to Goolwa to join the “Spirit of Coorong” for a 3.5 hour Coorong Experience cruise into the wilderness of Coorong National Park – where shallow lagoons and waterways are home to over 200 species of water birds. A delicious lunch is served on board as we cruise downstream from the port of Goolwa, along the historic wharf & towards the Goolwa Barrage. Travel through the lock chamber, down to sea level and spot a few lazy fur-seals lounging about. We then meander along the waterways of the Coorong, following the last kilometres of the mighty Murray River to the Murray Mouth and the its opening to the Southern Ocean. At the conclusion of the cruise, we rejoin our coach for the journey back to Adelaide.
Sunday 31 March Adelaide – Barossa Valley – Naracoorte (B, L, D)
Another great day today as we set off for the Adelaide Hills, through a patchwork of orchards and vineyards to the town of Hahndorf, one of the most popular towns in the area originally settled by German immigrants in 1839. The town retains much of its Germanic heritage and is home to some of the regions finest cellar doors. Then, we travel across to the world famous Barossa Valley, the heartland of the Australian wine industry which retains much of its diverse European cultural heritage. Time for a lunch and some wine tasting before we continue on our journey to Naracoorte for our overnight stay.
Monday 01 April Naracoorte – Mt Gambier – Warrnambool (B,D)
This morning we visit the World Heritage Victoria Fossil Cave where we can see many beautiful calcite crystal decorations and the partially excavated fossil deposit. Then we travel on to Penola to visit the town and the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre and schoolhouse, where Saint Mary MacKillop founded the religious order, The Sisters of St Joseph in 1866. Time for lunch and then travel to Mt Gambier, famous for its Blue Lake which changes colour dramatically each year. We continue via the coastal towns of Nelson, Portland and Port Fairy to Warrnambool on Lady Bay where we spend the night.
Tuesday 02 April Warrnambool – Lorne via The Great Ocean Road (B,D)
This morning we visit Flagstaff Hill which is a recreated 19th century coastal port, built around the original lighthouse and fortifications. The Great Ocean Road starts from here and we travel to Port Campbell and continue on past some of the Great Ocean Road’s most famous and scenic coastal attractions: the rocky (but broken) platform of London Bridge, the Loch Ard Gorge, Gibsons Steps and the most celebrated attractions, the Twelve Apostles. We travel along the coastline from Apollo Bay, considered to be the most picturesque section of the Great Ocean Road, with the highway carved into sheer cliffs that drop away into the ocean and arrive at Lorne where we overnight.
Wednesday 03 April Lorne – Melbourne (B,D)
Lorne is a very popular beach tourist resort town. Cafes and boutiques line the main foreshore, creating a Mediterranean feel to the area. Then it’s down along the Surf Coast, past some of the finest swimming and surfing beaches in Victoria until we arrive in Melbourne, where we stay for 2 nights. This evening let’s enjoy dinner together at the hotel.
Thursday 04 April Melbourne (B)
This morning, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of this exciting and vibrant city, a wonderful blend of elegant heritage, contemporary architecture, colourful city parklands and gardens, bustling commercial centres and shaded peaceful areas. We see the Yarra River, a busy city waterway, Captain Cook’s Cottage, Queen Victoria Market, Fitzroy Gardens and Albert Park, home to the Australian Grand Prix. The afternoon is free for independent sightseeing or shopping – and of course Melbourne is famous for its shops. A free evening tonight for you to explore the wonderful cafes and restaurants this city is famous for.
Friday 05 April Melbourne – Echuca (B, D)
This morning we leave Melbourne behind us and head to the city of Ballarat, one of Victoria’s famous gold mining cities. We visit Sovereign Hill, a classic recreation of the past. We then proceed on to Echuca for the night.
Saturday 06 April Echuca – Mildura (B, D)
Echuca was once Australia’s largest inland port and the heart of “Rich River Country”. We enjoy a tour of the town to see the restored port and paddle steamers which will give us an idea of what life was once like in this bustling river town a century ago. We travel up the Murray Valley Highway through fertile country to Swan Hill, an historic town dating back to 1836 which became one of the region’s major inland river trading ports until the expansion of the railway. We continue to Mildura where we spend the night.
Sunday 07 April Commence “The Great Murray River Run” (B, L, D)
This morning we make a short drive from Mildura to head through to Renmark to board “Spirit of the Murray”.
Meet the crew and Captain as we enjoy lunch onboard and depart Renmark, passing under the Paringa ‘lift’ Bridge & through Lock 5. Experience the breath-taking views as we cruise further downstream passing the small town of Lyrup & stop at Berri for a bit of free time to explore the township. Return to the boat & cruise on through Lock 4, past the Kamakazi Flats before stopping at Loxton Hotel.
Monday 08 April Loxton – Waikerie (B, L, D)
We depart Loxton and cruise past the towns of Cobdogla, Moorook and Kingston on the Murray before stopping for lunch at the historic Overland Corner Hotel. This hotel was commissioned in the 1850’s as a refreshment point for weary travellers. It is now both a hotel and museum and boasts of having its own resident ghost. After lunch we travel by coach to Banrock Station where we have afternoon tea. Banrock Station is an award winning wine and ecotourism venture where native wetlands and woodlands have been restored so that visitors can explore the wetlands area along the boardwalks from which many bird species can be seen. There also maybe time for a wine tasting or two! We then travel back by coach to rejoin our boat and we sail through spectacular scenery as we cruise further downstream, stopping at Waikerie overnight.
Tuesday 09 April Waikere – Mannum (B, L, D)
Today our cruise takes us from Waikerie through Lock 2, Red Gum Forest and past the town of Cadell before stopping for lunch at the historic river port of Morgan. There is time to walk along the restored wharf precinct and visit the historic railway station. We then cruise through Lock 1 at Blanchetown, the first lock on the Murray River built in 1921. View spectacular scenery at Big Bend, travelling below the tallest cliffs anywhere along the entire length of the Murray River. We cruise past the town of Swan Reach before arriving at Kroehn’s Landing for a coach transfer to Mannum, where we stay overnight.
Wednesday 10 April Mannum – Adelaide (B,L)
We depart Mannum by coach, returning to Kroehn’s Landing for a guided tour by the local Nganguraku Aboriginal people. On this tour, visitors have the opportunity to walk the Ngaut-ngaut boardwalk, which meanders up the fascinating cliffs. We reboard our boat to cruise past the towns of Walkers Flat, Purnong and Bowhill before stopping for lunch at the historic town of Mannum, birthplace of Paddlesteamer history. There is time to explore the town or to visit the Dock Museum. Enjoy your last afternoon cruising on the boat, as you pass the towns of Murray Bridge and Tailem Bend, before arriving back in Goolwa where we disembark and travel by coach the short distance back to Adelaide.
Thursday 11 April Adelaide (B,D)
A free day today to relax and explore the city. We get together this evening for our final dinner together.
Friday 12 April Adelaide – Home (B)
Time to say our farewells on the final day of our tour as we are transferred back to Adelaide Airport to connect with flights home.