Our recent stay in Mildura was jam packed with everything we love to do when visiting a new destination, so if you’re interested in what to do in Mildura, grab yourself a cuppa before settling in to read this blog…it could take a while.
We stayed at the Mildura Buronga Riverside Caravan Park, a Discovery / G’day Park on the New South Wales side of the Murray River. It’s a strange thing but with the river being the border between NSW and Victoria, we were crossing back and forth between states every day to see all we wanted to in this region.
The caravan park is terrific, being directly on the river and having great views day and night of all the action on the river. The paddle wheeler Rothbury, operates from a dock directly across from the park and during the day and on some evenings, it takes passengers on cruises leaving every few hours. As well as that we saw rowers and a dragon boat team practicing on the river during our stay.
It’s a big park with everything you need and expect of caravan parks these days and this one is exceptionally pet friendly with dog hitching posts around the park, an off leash area and even a dog wash and pet laundry facility.
The only thing we noticed that detracted from the location, though not the caravan parks fault, was that the riverfront area across the water seems to be a favourite spot for the local hoons to rumble along in the evenings in their noisy exhaust cars, and we had a burnout send off on our last night. A big tip is to have some white noise going overnight by leaving a fan or something running for a good night’s sleep.
Mildura is the biggest rural city in north west Victoria with a population of more than 55,000, but as per usual we did our best to tick off all of the must see and do attractions that suited us in the days we spent there. Here are our highlights:
Visit Lock 11
River locks are fascinating things, managing the flow of the Murray River during good times and bad and watching them in operation is very interesting. We were lucky to watch a houseboat going through the lock and the difference in river height was incredible, from being level with the ground floor of this two storey houseboat on one side to looking down on it after it went through the lock was amazing.
Find Artwork in town
There are quite a few locations in town where you can find terrific examples of street art, some with stories and others harder to find out about. The Mildura mural was painted in 2019 and was inspired by early marketing of the region. It was designed by Travis Price as a celebration of the regions industry and tourism.
On the riverfront water pump station are two colourful murals by George Rose in conjuction with local community members and the local TAFE students. It reflects the local indigenous culture and stories as well as early settler history and current vineyards and the Murray River which is the heart of the towns existence.
Nearby is an extensive mosaic project, a seat created by Badger Bates, a Kurnu Barkandji artist who’s inspiration came from the Mediterranean people whose fruit blocks he worked on in the Mildura area. It features the Rainbow serpent in a deep waterhole which blows a rainbow and brings life to the country as it travels.
More wonderful art can be found along the riverfront at a shipping container café called Bobby + me. If you have a cooperative dog, you can get them to pose with wings painted on one side of the container and on the front, there’s a gum tree mural full of Aussie animals and a swing to have some fun with.
Native fish nursery
Next to the café on this part of the riverfront is an endangered fish nursery. This was only established in December 2021 and is a place where endangered Murray-Darling River fish can be released and breeding programs established. In time it’s hoped that these fish can be released back into the river and re-establish them to healthy levels.
While we were there, more Rainbow fish were being released into the nursery thanks to a project team including the Mildura council, North Central Catchment Management Authority, Mallee Catchment Management Authority, First people of the Millewa-Mallee, NSW Dept of Primary Industries – Fisheries, Ozfish and Sunraysia Institute of TAFE.
Holden motor museum
An unbelievable collection of over 30 classic Holden cars which is hard to walk away from without feeling extremely envious, especially when you realise this is the collection of one man! They are all in pristine condition in this one shed space which also has a café and souvenirs of everything Holden.
As you wander through nostalgic music is also playing which takes you back to the days when these cars were everyday rides. It costs $12 per adult to view the cars and you can spend as long as you like wandering through and drooling, just not on the cars please.
Don’t judge a book by its cover with this one. The plain fronted old building and even the first look inside of this café style restaurant doesn’t give you any clues as to what lies at the back. The staff were so friendly and obliging when we asked to sit in the Bali hut style restaurant at the rear of the building, even though we were the only ones out there.
It was no trouble at all to accommodate our wish, the food was incredible, the best Asian fusion we’ve had for a long time and on top of that, we were even given a complimentary dessert. Don’t miss this one!
Gin is all the rage everywhere at the moment but this distillery has put a unique stamp on their range. The décor had me straight away, quirky yet classy and oh so comfortable inside and out. As well as gins you can try their range of whiskeys and Vodka but the gin flight was my pick.
I don’t think I’ve found another gin distillery with such a range but my picks from the tasting were the Fosseys gin infused with desert lime and Broken Heel pink gin. There are plenty of weird and wonderful infusions to try to suit everyone’s tastes.
This winery, restaurant and cellar door is 15 kilometres out of Mildura on the NSW side of the river at Trentham Cliffs. A wine tasting was free and we couldn’t believe the range we were given to taste, 17 wines in all, with many of them medal winners.
The wines and service were top class and then the delicious food in the restaurant capped off the whole experience, with wonderful views over the river to boot.
Gol Gol Hotel
Another exceptional place for great food and views is the Gol Gol Hotel or the Golly to the locals. This would be a perfect spot for a big family get together with plenty of dining space outdoors, a massive green grassed area for kids to run around and a playground.
All of this with more top views of the river, which you can see by taking a stroll to the riverbank, and outdoors they are pet friendly too.
Mildura Arts Centre
As well as a free modern art centre to wander through and admire you also have access to the historic Rio Vista House. This house was the original home of the Chaffey family, who establishment the first irrigation scheme in Australia, here in Mildura.
The house is Mildura’s oldest heritage building and a number of rooms in the house have been restored and are open for public display.
Red Cliffs Country market and Big Lizzie
This country market was a huge surprise, I wasn’t expecting anything as big as it was. It’s held on the 1st Sunday of every month from 9am to 1pm and the whole centre of town seems to be involved. There are more than 80 stalls which line the footpaths of a couple of the main streets in town and into the town square.
As well as the market stalls many of the businesses are open and there is entertainment and a lovely carnival type vibe around the entire event. There is also plenty of variety of foods on offer so you can grab something to eat and drink and sit in the square and take it all in.
In the square you’ll also find Big Lizzie, a massive machine built in 1914 to cart wool from outback stations to Broken Hill. The Murray crossing was too hazardous though so it was used for carting wheat instead, one load made up of 899 bags.
In 1920 it was used to clear trees and scrub in Red Cliffs to establish the largest soldier settlement in Australia. Her specifications (in old measures) are, 34 ft long, 11 ft wide, 18 ft high, total weight 45 tons, normal travelling speed 1 mph and it had a turning radius of 200 feet!
Phew, that was our busy few days in Mildura and surrounds and I’m sure there’s more we need to see, but as it’s under 400 kilometres from Adelaide, we will definitely be back to visit again. We were looking forward to visiting the Mildura Brewery too, but at the time of our visit it was temporarily closed, so hopefully it will be back up and running in the near future.