Roadtrips – Yarrawonga/Mulwala
With a spot of fishing along the Murray, an eerily beautiful lake of dead trees, fresh local produce, an unexpected cactus country and gorgeous vineyards including one with a castle, you’ll be sure to find some favourite new places for a wander.
Yarrawonga, Mulwala and Nurmurkah. When I hear these words, my mind wanders to a time of playful holidays, sleeping upstairs in the loft with family friends and swimming, playing tennis, squash and games all day every day. Ah, the childhood memories. Nearly every single holiday period, or at least that’s how I remember it, Mum and Papa would load up the car and whisk us off on another road trip adventure.
Now we get relive those days all over again with our own kids in tow! If you’re looking to get away to a relaxed, welcoming town, then look no further than Yarrawonga and its surrounds. With the sunny spring weekends popping up around the corner, below are some treasures to be found along the Murray river trail.
Murray Valley Resort – Murray Valley Highway, Yarrawonga
Yarrawonga is just over three hours drive from the Melbourne CBD up the Hume on M31 located along the Murray River, with its nearby neighbour town Mulwala just across the border in NSW. One of the main attractions in the area is Lake Mulwala where you can fish, swim and engage in some fun water sports or a relaxing cruise. The Murray Valley Resort we stayed at is close to all the local attractions.
The Murray Valley Resort is an old time favourite as it’s perfect for families. We stayed in what they call a General Apartment which had two sofa beds in front of the tv and a queen size bed in the downstairs bedroom and, upstairs it had two single beds. There are guest laundries available on site. The recreational facilities are well maintained and are all found within the resort grounds including:
– indoor and outdoor swimming pools and spas
– tennis courts (a kids size one and one for the adults!)
– a games room with computer games, pinball machines and table tennis
– a squash court
– an 18 hole mini golf course
– mountain bikes and fishing rods available to hire
– a playground for the kids
– 16 outdoor, undercover BBQ areas and
– the adults lounge where you can relax kid free
There are also organised activities like meet and greets, pancake mornings, tours of the Rutherglen region and Lake Mulwala which is all close-by.
Tip: One thing that surprised me was that as we were unloading all our bags and belongings from the car, there were little trolleys along the side of the building waiting to be used to help transport luggage from the carpark to your room. Don’t forget to use them if you need. How handy – it’s the little things! Make sure you to check out the week’s activities and sign up at reception to reserve your place – the kids loved the all you can eat pancake breakfast!
Another great place to stay is right on the waterfront of Lake Mulwala at the Ski Club Holiday Park. We stayed there one time when we went to teach dance at the local schools in the area and we absolutely loved it! The apartments were clean, spacious and right on the lake so we were able to chill outside and enjoy the view and also participate in some super fun water activities!
Rutherglen Farmers Market – Rutherglen Lions Park, Douglas street, Rutherglen
In search for some fresh, local produce and somewhere to shop for some goodies for the week ahead, we ventured out to Rutherglen. Just over half an hour’s drive from Yarrawonga, we visited the Rutherglen Farmers Market which is held on the second Sunday of every month and boy were we spoilt for choice. We left with armloads of; garlic and herb sausages from Grass Roots Beef – GMO-free, 100% grass-fed beef, marinated ribs from Rutherglen Berkshire, chill bacon jam and a big stick of chilli coated salami from Salami shack, jars of chilli chutney and chilli jam from Chilli Pepper Farm (we’ve been eating the chilli jam with everything from crackers, with meat and in our wraps!), a round flavoursome cherry pie from Greta Vale Orchard and some loaves of rye and fruit bread from Milawa Bread Artisan Bakers.
Tip: Bring with your own bags with you to help reduce waste. Have a chat with the friendly stallholders and learn something new. Try something you wouldn’t normally buy and perhaps learn a new recipe. I didn’t know I’d like chilli jam so much – we’ve been eating it with everything lately!
Various wineries in the Rutherglen region
Every time we have family and friends visiting from overseas, my parents taking them on road trips around the state…the 12 Apostles, Phillip Island, Maroondah Dam and various wineries are just some of the sights I remember spending childhood weekends wandering. I was only little but the wine tasting has continued on as something my parents love to do. After our morning pit stop at the market, we made our way to couple of the wineries in Rutherglen region.
All Saints Wine – 315 All Saints Road, Wahgunyah
The picturesque driveway superbly framed by strong, breathtaking English Elm trees ushers you into the view of the castle with its turrets and tower welcoming you to the expansive All Saints Wines estate established in 1864 by George Sutherland Smith and John Banks from Scotland. The majestic trees are some of the oldest in Australia planted around 1880 and the Chinese dormitories on the property which are over 100 years old are the last remaining of their type in Australia.
We enjoyed a wine tasting, a cheese platter picnic next to the duck pond complete with nosey chickens scuffling around, and the scene of the beautiful surrounds taking us back into a time in Australia’s pioneering history (along with the rows of vines, we visited the old Chinese dormitories where Chinese immigrants stayed while they worked in the vineyard in the 1860s and 1870s). The kids were in awe (or in shock) when I explained that the tin shed structure with the sunlight piercing through the little holes in the roof and walls was were the workers slept and ate.
Tip: To keep the kids occupied while you surrender to a glass or two, there is a little kids table complete with pictures of castles for them to colour in. We took home some bottles of the All Saints Estate Durif and the NV All Saints Estate Grand Tawny. There is also a bicycle trail to their sister vineyard, St Leonards, if you’re up for a ride.
Campbells of Rutherglen – 4603 Murray Valley Highway
Another winery established by a family of Scottish heritage, Campbell Wines, had its first vine planted in 1870 by John Campbell who worked at the nearby gold mines during the rush which established the Rutherglen township. The Rutherglen region is well known for the robust reds and fortified wines, and at Campbells, delicate white wines were able to be made with their sophisticated cooling and fermentation equipment implemented in the 1970’s, a first for the region (see Campbells – Our History).
Tip: Have a chat to the friendly and knowledgeable staff while you sip through your wines. There are plenty of wine barrels big and small around the back that make for pretty photos. From this winery we brought home some bottles of the Durif, Tempranillo and The Empire (which I am currently sipping as I type!).
Belle’s Cafe – 76 Belmore street, Yarrawonga
When you’re trying to pick a cafe to eat at in a place far away from home, how do you decide which one to go to? There are so many to choose from along the main strip of the town. Our indecisiveness as we walked down Belmore street was met with my four year old son’s keen eye for kid-friendly cafes! After quickly looking through the front window and seeing a courtyard at the back, he exclaimed, “Let’s eat at this one!”. What a great choice! At Belle’s Cafe we were able to enjoy the sunshine amongst fruit trees and herbs growing next to our tables.
TIP: The Buffalo style calamari and the burger were pretty awesome. Or try the soup special of the day. And if it’s a nice day, dining outside in the backyard courtyard is a must!
Belmore street is the main shopping strip in Yarrawonga and there are some pretty little gems to be found. Whether you’re looking for some gorgeous decor for your home or stylish, trendy clothing for yourself or the family, you’re sure to find something to bring home with you.
TIP: Check out Blooms of Yarrawonga for loads of little treasure and also fresh blooms so pretty to look at. I ordered a bouquet of natives for my mum as it was her birthday while we were there. Blooms of Yarrawonga delivered the little surprise to her on time to the resort we were staying at. Five stars for prompt service with a smile!
Lake Mulwala is a man made lake and with it’s calm waters and wide open space it’s the perfect place to get into some jet skiing and water sports! Ghostly red river gums that can be found at the lake provides a serene and interesting backdrop for a family picnic or walk as the sun sets.
TIP: Along with water sports and playgrounds, check out Chinaman’s Island Walking track. It’s a 2km return walk from the Yarrawonga Yacht club car park.
This area known as the Sun Country is home to a quirky and fun loving, family owned Cactus Country. Just about a half hour drive from Yarrawonga this cactus wonderland draws you in and as soon as you drive into the property. Cheerful welcome signs makes you feel like you’re in for an adventure.
The family run business cares for over 3000 species of cacti that have been grown on the property for over 40 years. With 10 acres (and growing!) of giant, unique and enigmatic cacti to explore, you’ll be surprised at this gem of the place along the Murray. So many Insta photo opps and they even provide large colorful Mexican hats for you as props!
TIP: You need to check out their story here! I love reading about people’s stories and journeys. I find it so interesting to see how they start out. Make sure you check out the cafe selling souvenirs and plant to take home and cake and ice cream made from cactus!
Roadtripping with the fam has got to be one of my favourite past times.
What are some of your favourite destinations to explore? Please share in the comments below – we’d love to check them out!
Have a great rest of the week!