The ultimate Murray River road trip guide

Emmylou paddlesteamer Murray River

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted September 11, 2023

Embarking on the Melbourne to Murray River road trip is an adventure that promises breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and unforgettable experiences.

The Murray River, Australia's longest river, is a breathtaking natural wonder that stretches over 2,700km from the mountainous Great Dividing Range in Victoria, to nearly all the way to Adelaide in South Australia.

The Murray River is a popular holiday spot for boating, fishing, water sports and swimming, a region filled with sandy beaches, native flora, and wildlife from sea, land, and sky.

Depending which part of the River you are looking to visit, a straight drive to the Murray can take anywhere from two and half to four hours. You could just scoot straight up the National Highway, but then you’d miss out on spectacular mountain ranges, rejuvenating mineral springs, historical gold panning, classic paddle steamer rides and fun car games along the way.

As well as acting as a split between Victoria and New South Wales, the drive to the Murray River is half the fun.  From the historic port town of Echuca to the tranquil beauty of the RACV Cobram Resort,  there's plenty of towns and natural wonders to explore before reaching your final destination.

And remember, before heading on any road trip, ensure you have gone over your road safety checklist, packed your car safety kit, and that your Emergency Roadside Assistance subscription is up-to-date. 

Get ready to explore the hidden gems from Melbourne to the Murray as we take you on a journey through the must-visit places on your Murray River road trip.

kayaking at Murray River

The Murray is the longest river in Australia. Image: Visit Victoria

Best stops on the Melbourne to Murray River drive

Your route for the way there: Melbourne > Macedon > Daylesford > Bendigo > Echuca > Cobram

Time driving: Approximately 5 hours.


At just an hour into your road trip, you’ll reach the Macedon Ranges, an elevated region at the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. Filled with wineries, gardens, historic villages and artisanal shops, the quaint area has a calendar full of monthly events, festival and attractions to enjoy during the calendar year.

Visit the iconic Hanging Rock reserve (you can even do this on an alpaca-led tour), drink some famed Macedon sparkling, take in some stunning views during the autumn season, or simply stroll the charming villages and markets before heading back in the car for your next stop.


Just 40 minutes down the road is the spa town of Daylesford, famed for its mineral springs, lakeside dining, dedication to the arts and antiques, and stunning gardens.

While there’s plenty to do in Daylesford that could keep you occupied for days, check out the Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm for stunning floral views; have a walk, cycle or picnic around Lake Daylesford; stroll down the unique treasure trove of shops on Vincent Street; and soak in the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa before heading onto your next destination.

If you’d prefer to break up the trip, you can always spend a night at the nearby RACV Goldfields Resort in Creswick.


Another hour’s drive from Daylesford is the large regional town of Bendigo.

Famed for its links to the gold rush, the city has since become known for its thriving arts scene (particularly pottery); iconic gallery that has showcased works from Elvis to Marilyn Monroe; and community markets stocking everything from fresh produce to handmade items from locals.

Have a tour on the Vintage Talking Tram before stopping for lunch at the Rifle Brigade Hotel; or have a picnic with your market goods near Lake Weerona. Pick up some local ceramics, and onto your next destination.


The Macedon region will take you through charming village towns. Image: Visit Victoria
The Bendigo Art Gallery has become one of the most noted art hubs in the country. Image: Visit Victoria
Stop in for a picnic at Lake Daylesford. Image: Visit Victoria
Stay right on the water at the RACV Cobram Resort. Image: Supplied
Nagambie is known for its dedication to quality food and drink. Image: Nagambie Brewery, Visit Victoria
As well as wineries, the Yarra Valley is home to family friendly restaurants, chocolateries. wildlife parks and delicious gelato. Image: Piggery Cafe, Yarra Valley


Almost there! Another hour and you've reached the border of northern Victoria, Echuca. 

Located on the banks of the Murray River, Echuca is a historic port town that offers a glimpse into Australia's rich riverboat heritage.

Take a historic paddle-steamer cruise where kids can even have a steer; visit the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre; and indulge in some delicious local cuisine on the town's main High Street before getting to your final stop.


Your road trip culminates an hour later at the RACV Cobram Resort, a hidden gem nestled on the banks of the Murray River. You can choose to stay in the onsite cabin accommodation, or bring your own caravan and set up shop.

Relax in the resort's luxurious accommodations, indulge in a round of golf, and unwind with a meal or drink at the poolside cafe. 

If you’re bringing the kids, keep them entertained with a dedicated games room, outdoor playground, tennis and basketball courts, pool, BMX tracks, and onsite dining.

Murray River activities

During your stay, take in all the Murray River region has to offer. Explore our family-friendly guide to the Cobram area including attractions, experiences and great eats; take in the beaches, parks and natural scenery; or discover some great hikes and trails around the riverside area. 


Cows at Shepparton

Have fun spotting almost 100 cow sculptures of different prints around the town of Shepparton. Image: Visit Victoria


Your route for the way home: Cobram > Shepparton > Nagambie > Healesville > Melbourne

Time driving: Approximately 4 hours.


Just under an hour into your journey home, your first stop will be the regional town of Shepparton. Known for its dairy industry, have fun spotting the cow sculptures around the area, before indulging your sweet tooth at the Big Strawberry, part of Australia’s many Big Things.

Have a browse through the many resale shops in the area, take a wander through the Museum of Vehicle Evolution, or if it’s after 12, stop in for a lager at the Shepparton Brewery.


Forty minutes down the Goulburn Valley Freeway you’ll reach Nagambie, a riverside town that makes up part of Victoria’s stunning High Country.

Offering a range of experiences from lakeside activities to cellar doors and delicious baked goods, take the time for lunch in the Goulburn Valley.

Stop in for locally sourced cibo at Eighteen Sixty, an Italian venue specialising in authentic food and hospitable experiences, or grab some pub classics at the Nagambie Brewery and Distillery to finish off your time in the region. 

Yarra Glen

Afternoon now, and it’s time for a tipple. An hour and a half back down to Melbourne, you’ll reach your last stop before home, the fabulous Yarra Glen winery region.

Take a stop at some of our favourites in the area, or if you’re with the kids, perhaps a ride on the famed Yarra Valley Railway. If you wish to make a night of it, rest your head at the RACV Healesville Resort before finishing your road trip adventure.