Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Cobba Paddleboat

Don’t waste your hard-earned money travelling on a trip to the Mediterranean – Sun Country on the Murray has it all and more.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail

You will love Sun Country on the Murray

The Moira Shire, also known as Sun Country on the Murray, has a Mediterranean climate and 101 sandy beaches to match. Want more? Well, read on and discover for yourself how the region from Echuca to Yarrawonga is the perfect place to enjoy the sun, food, wine and outdoor activities, all within striking distance of Australia’s best river.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Cobba Paddleboat

I was able to see the Murray from a different angle on the Cobba

The kicker is the Farm Gate Trail put together by a collection of primary producers offering their product directly to you from the farm. Each Farm Gate offers a unique experience and with food crops, grape growers, dairy and even hemp, this region has it all. Regular markets are also a drawcard with the long weekends pulling loads of stalls and people looking for a bargain.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer

The markets pull a crowd

As with any region, I always recommend the first stop to be at one of the four Visitor Information Centres. Here you can discover those special places, new activities and of course find out all about the Farm Gate Trail from the experienced people in the know. I dropped into the Barmah Forest Heritage and Education Centre in Nathalia and was fascinated by the displays, art and of course visitor information.

 

PRODUCE

Blessed are the Cheesemakers and especially Boosey Creek Cheese. Master Cheesemaker Ken Cameron decided to turn the milk from his environmentally sustained cows into cheese 10 years ago. Now the Artisan Farmhouse cheeses are winning awards, the stinky Washed Rind Warby Red and vintage cloth bound Grampy’s Cheddar are favourites, but there’s also a Camembert, Blue, Gouda and Fetta. I guarantee any of the Boosey Creek cheeses raise the bar on any cheeseboard.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Boosey Creek Cheese

Ken produces lip smacking cheeses

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer

And these little fellas will be busy helping soon

Hemp, Honey and Almonds are what Aintree Almonds and Apiary are all about. Mariea and Trinity’s farm is located on Ferris Lane, Bearii (near Strathmerton). The small farm gate is backed up by a high presence in local markets. These guys were the first people to be legally allowed to produce hemp seed oil in Victoria. The health qualities of hemp seed oil surpass that of fish oil, tastier too, so why isn’t the Heart Foundation promoting it as such?

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Aintree Almonds and Apiary

Aintree Almonds and Apiary creates a wide range of produce

Garlic lovers celebrate at Katamatite Garlic where you can learn the art of cultivating garlic through workshops (pre-booking required) as well as taste the range of pickles, jellies and salts, all laced with organically grown garlic as well as seasonal jams and jellies. Before getting stuck into tasting ask for a farm tour. With only 3 acres to work with, Lisa and Grahame have designed the gardens using permaculture principles, but the real workhorses on this farm are the chickens!

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Katamatite Garlic

Lisa and Grahame have created a wonderful lifestyle

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Katamatite Garlic

You mustn’t miss a tasting session

If fresh produce is what you are after, check out the self-serve Farm Gate at Manto Produce on Campbell Road, Cobram. Specialising in stone fruits and pome fruits including pears, apples, apricots, peaches and plums, you can also stock up on a variety of fresh local produce from the region. KNM Berries on Kangan Road, Koonoomoo is another self-serve shop to check out, especially if you’re partial to strawberries.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Manto Produce

If fresh fruit is what you’re after, Manto Produce is the place to go

Talking about strawberries, the Big Strawberry is the place to indulge. Also located in Koonoomoo, you can’t miss it on the Goulburn Valley Highway. Ice creams, milkshakes, jams, toppings, fruit wines if it contains a berry it will be there. You can even get stuck into a Devonshire tea, mmmm scones, jam and cream!

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Big Strawberry

I needed a lie down after indulging at the Big Strawberry

WINERIES

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Cape Horn Winery

Let’s begin with Cape Horn Winery, situated on the banks of the Murray a hop, skip and a jump from Echuca. The vineyard sits on Stewarts Bridge Road and began operating during the 1800’s, a popular stop for the River Boat trade.

Currently owned by long-time locals, the Gilmour and Buckley families, they’ve turned the winery into a popular weekend venue, with their well-renowned wood-fired pizzas the main fare, perfectly matched with a Rose, Chardonnay or stunning Sparkling Shiraz.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Cape Horn Winery

Neither of us were sure if it was too early to taste at 10am

Tony was happy to show me around and talk me through the range of wines under the current label and the green lawn area and balcony is the perfect place to enjoy Sunday Sippers while listening to a live acoustic session. There are a few top free campsites just down the road on the banks of the Murray River.

On Berrys Road in nearby Katunga, you’ll find Monichino Wines. Planted by Carlo in 1962, the family-owned vineyard is now looked after by his children Terry and Anna. They’re extremely proud of the large varietals of wine produced from their property, mostly thanks to Carlo being easily bored. Enjoy a quaff as you cook a steak on the BBQ in the garden.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Monichino Wines

I timed it well for a tasting session with Anne at Monichino Wines

A couple of smaller wineries are Ulupna Wines and Fyffe Field Wines. Ulupna Wines can be found on Crawfords Road Strathmerton and is a vineyard with tranquil surrounds. Open by appointment only, its best to give Kathy a call before you head her way. You’ll be surprised by the number of ceramic pigs that take pride of place at Fyffe Field Wines, located on the Murray Valley Highway opposite Byramine Homestead.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer

Check out the pig collection and the wine at Fyffe Field Wines

The final winery on the Farm Gate Trail is Warrabilla Wines, located 30km east of Yarrawonga, on the Murray Valley Highway. Winemaker Andrew Smith loves producing BIG reds and the range of Durif’s will blow you away. Helped by Andrew’s “assistant winemaker, best mate and daughter” Amy, allow plenty of time to enjoy tasting the range of wines available at the cellar door. Although tempted to get stuck into it, I didn’t think camping in the carpark would have been appreciated.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Warrabilla Wines

Amy took these people on a wonderful journey

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Warrabilla Wines

Andrew is proud of what he has achieved at Warrabilla Wines

CROWD PLEASERS

The two biggest crowd pullers on the Farm Gate Trail are Byramine Homestead and Rich Glen Olives. Being so close to Yarrawonga and Mulwala as well as a load of free camping spots along the Murray, on the weekends these two places are teeming with people.

The historic Byramine Homestead was built in 1842 by Hamilton Hume for his widowed Sister-in-Law, Elizabeth Hume. Yep, when he wasn’t out exploring, he was helping out Elizabeth after bushrangers slaughtered Hamilton’s younger brother. Elizabeth lost 2 of 9 children while at Byramine and she lived here until she died on 4th July 1864. She was 61 years of age.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Byramine Homestead

Byramine is full of history and people wanting to eat and drink

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Byramine Homestead

The elm trees are some of the oldest in Victoria

Now, Byramine has an ‘A’ classification by the National Trust, meaning it must be preserved at all costs. Self-guided tours of the homestead are available for a nominal fee and you will learn why the house is such an odd shape. The Brewery and Cider House offers tasting boards and if you’re hungry tuck into a ploughman’s platter, Devonshire tea or light lunches.

The family owned and operated Rich Glen Olives has taken over the homestead built in a time long ago. Due to demand and the expansion of their café, the family home was renovated, and the farm gate transformed. All things relating to olive oil are available for free sampling including oils, olives, dressings and dukkah. There is also a skincare range and flavoured teas as well as a café offering a large range of lunch options. I always walk away with a bag full of tasty fare but prefer mid-week visits when it’s more relaxing and I get the opportunity to chat to Ros, the legend behind the Farm Gate.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer

If it contains olives, you’ll find it at Rich Glen Olives

PRICKLY SITUATION

If time is your enemy, DON’T miss the amazing Cactus Country. Twenty-Five years ago, Jim and Julie Hall began planting cactus on their property near Strathmerton and now an amazing range of cactus covers 8 acres. Over 4000 varieties of plants from North and South America, Mexico and Africa are displayed in their country of origin and walking trails are marked with colours and numbers that are easy for you to follow. Even the kids are looked after with a fantastic ‘Spotto Trail’ designed especially for them.

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Cactus County

Am I in Mexico? No, Strathmerton

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer, Cactus County

I felt small

Cacti flower on a continual basis from June through to May, each flower only lasting a day or three depending on how hot it is. The cacti are specialised flowerers; the time of the day that they flower is to coordinate with different pollinators. When the cacti are flowering the displays suddenly become a sweeping carpet of colour. Another unique experience is a night tour of the cactus garden that offers such a different perspective. Enjoy a margarita and nacho’s and remember to buy a cactus or succulent from the farm shop.

DESTINATION DETAILS / FACT FILE

Sun Country on the Murray, Murray River, Sun Country Food Trail, Glenn Marshall, Glenn Marshall Travel Writer

REGION: Sun Country on the Murray, Moira Shire, Victoria

DISTANCE FROM MELBOURNE: to Cobram, 265km via the Hume Hwy (M31), Goulburn Valley Hwy (A39) and Murray Valley Hwy (B400)

WHERE TO STAY:

Boomerang Way Caravan Park, Tocumwal

Oasis Caravan Park, Cobram

Yarrawonga Holiday Park, Yarrawonga

PERFECT SPOT FOR LUNCH (OR SATISFY A SWEET TOOTH):

Café 3641, Strathmerton

The Big Strawberry

Byramine Homestead, Brewery and Cider House

Rich Glen Olives

Cactus Country

Cobba Paddleboat Cruise

MARKETS:

Tocumwal Foreshore Market

Cobram Log Cabin Market

MORE INFO: Sun Country on the Murray and Visit the Murray

The original article appeared in Issue 35 of RV Daily Magazine

In readiness for my epic 2018 adventure, I upgraded my suspension with Ironman 4×4 Foam Cell Pro shock absorbers Performance coil springs before installing a MCC 4×4 Accessories steel rear bar with dual wheel carrier. The added weight caused the rear of my Prado to sag and the nose to rise, making the vehicle unsafe on the road due to the headlights being too high. I needed a solution that would be simple to install, have the strength to handle the conditions than I planned to cover, enhance the ride, provide the ability to lower the rear if I removed the wheel carriers and raise the rear when I was packed for a trip.

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