In 1996, Murray River Paddlesteamers began their first cruises along the Murray River and has since expanded to include the PS PS Emmylou, updated with 8 luxury cabins with ensuites in 2018, and the hundred year old PS Canberra. After twelve months of restoration during 2002-2003, Paddle Steamer Canberra is to date, the only known vessel along the Murray River to have been converted back to steam.
In March 2015 the business was purchased by brother’s Craig & Rohan Burgess together with local identity & Skipper Neil Hutchinson. The business continues to grow and expand on strong foundations which was acknowledged in July 2016 with the business winning Gold at the Regional Tourism Awards and Silver in the prestigious VTIC, Victorian Tourism Awards again in 2018.
We are dedicated to making your cruise along the Murray river memorable offering a wide range of cruising options across three traditional Paddlesteamers. Each vessel is unique and shows the dedication we have in providing an experience for our guests with all cruises short or long offering live historical commentary from the skipper. From a 1 hour cruise, lunch or dinner experience or a luxurious overnight boutique inland river cruise aboard PS Emmylou, we have something for everyone to enjoy.
We are proud to continue the tradition of river cruising along Australia’s greatest waterway with our trademark level of country hospitality aboard pour authentic paddlesteamers.
We hope you can join us to connect you with Australia’s inland history, geography, culture and cuisine.
Echuca was founded by an ex-convict named Henry Hopwood, who, after serving time in Port Arthur, worked in a tallow plant on the New South Wales side of the Murray River. In 1850 he built a bark and slab hotel on the Victorian side of the Murray and purchased a small punt to ferry people back and forth from his hotel. In just 16 years, Hopwood helped build a town, known today as Echuca.
Much of Echuca’s history is linked to the river. Being the closest town on the river to Melbourne, the Port of Echuca, built in 1865, quickly became the largest inland port in Australia. With the riverboats able to reach inland settlements, the area prospered, and the Murray became a river highway for delivering wool, fruit, mail, other supplies and later passengers – and even towing barges filled with livestock. At the height of its trading days, the Port of Echuca had more than 240 boats traded from its docks.
In the early 1900s, as rail and road transport fastened, the slower river trade slowly declined. These days, a cruise on a paddle steamer or a visit to the historic Port of Echuca is the best way to get a glimpse into the river’s illustrious past.
Today, Echuca Moama, the twin towns on either side of the Murray, offers not only a glance into Australia’s colonial history and river trade history, but a great range of eateries and bars to indulge in, live music festivals, wineries, many outdoor activities and of course, our favourite, a beautiful sunset over the river.
The Murray River
It’s not difficult to understand how the Murray River got her moniker ‘the Mighty Murray’. She stretches over 2,000 kilometres from Kosciusko National Park in New South Wales, through Victoria, to Goolwa, South Australia. The Murray River is the world’s third-longest navigable river, behind the Nile and the Amazon.
Aboriginal communities lived alongside the river for more than 40,000 years, and you can still see evidence of Aboriginal habitation dating back thousands of years. Today, the Murray plays a significant role in the agricultural industry for much of inland Victoria and is a significant water supply for more than 1.5 million households.
The Murray offers a unique destination to discover one of Australia’s beautiful regions; the riverside towns, the wildlife, and of course, a cruise on an old paddle steamer.