northern Victoria and the Southern Riverina
Murray River Park
including Wills Bend and Echuca Regional Park
Located alongside the Murray River in Victoria, the (proposed) Murray River Park is discontinuous and of variable width. It is quite narrow in places. It is to include most of the public land alongside the Murray River in Victoria downstream of Yarrawonga to the Mildura area.
The proposed new park excludes Banyula Forest in Echuca, private property, Barmah National Park, Gunbower National Park, Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, Nyah-Vinifera Park, Gadsen Bend Park, Kings Billabong, privately-owned land and urban areas.The national parks have a higher level of protection than the proposed Murray River Park.
Legislation creating the park passed the previous Victorian parliament in 2009, with grazing to be phased out by the end of September 2014. However, boundaries have not yet been declared and the park has not been formally gazetted.
The present Victorian government has put on hold moves to phase out cattle grazing along stretches of the Murray River flagged to become a part of this park. Graziers may continue to graze cattle indefinately.
Read more (article from The Age newslepeper 1st March 2012).
Unfortunately, in places, cattle can enter the river, defecating and urinating in the Murray River which provides drinking water for towns along its course. Cattle also tend to eat reeds (Phragmites) that line the bank in places. Cattle find the rushes very palatable. Riverbank erosion is accelerated by cattle walking to and from the river and by the removal of the rushes.
Notwithstanding this, graziers who elect to give up their licences by 30th November 2012 may be eligible to receive assistance of up to $8 a metre for fencing and up to $3,000 for alternative watering infrastructure.
The forests and wetlands along the course of the Murray provide a wildlife corridor and valuable habitat for wildlife.
The top of the bank on the Victorian side of the Murray River is the border between Victoria and New South Wales. The Barmah-Millewa Forest and reserves on the NSW side of the river are deal with on other pages of this site.
Some of the birds found in areas along the course of the river include a yellow form of Crimson Rosella, Superb Parrot and Regent Parrot. The most common honeyeater in the Red Gum country is the White-plumed Honeyeater. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are common. Whistling Kites patrol the river and wetlands. See the birding section of this site for more information about the region's bird life.
For most of its length, the Murray River is lined with River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). Understorey plants include Golden Wattle (Acacia acinacia), Dwarf Native Cherry (Exocarpus stricta) and Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata).
When they contain water, wetlands alongside the Murray River provides habitat for thousands of water birds. Loch Garry is now a 'Wildlife Area' in which duck shooting may be permitted at times. A large percentage of the Barmah Forest is a separate National Park.
Murray River Paqrk is a proposed new park and this page is still in preparation. When this page was compiled in January 2010, other than the VEAC reports, relatively little information about the proposed new park was available. Over a year later, little has changed.
On this page, emphasis is placed on the sections of the park nearest to Echuca. The sections downstream of Barham-Koondrook are not covered on this page.
Koondrook to Torrumbarry
The new park includes a strip alongside the Murray River between Koondrook and Torrumbarry which includes a number of popular camping sites. Most campers are anglers or boaters.
Close to Koondrook is Clump Bend. The diverse vegetation mix along River Track but away from the river supports a number of uncommon bush birds including Gilbert Whistler, Diamond Firetail, Brown Tree-creeper and Grey-crowned Babbler. Varied Sittella and Crested Shrike-tit are often observed here.
On Gunbower Island, a number of other bends within the new park afford good camping sites and bird-watching opportunities. The bends include (moving away from Koondrook toward Torrumbarry): Sovereign, Chinaman, Milverton, Morton, Nugent, Barham Mill, McClure, Cemetery, Nursery 1, Nursery 2, Nursery 3, Social, 86, 84, Slaughter House, Broken River, Half Way, Kate Malone, Mopoke, Bell, Long, McKay Mill, Gona, Williams, Jones, Horseshoe and Turner Bends.
Nursery Bends 1, 2 and 3 are named after a government nursery which was located in the area.
Gunbower Island has over 130km of water frontage. Apart from the Murray River Park, 9,e30 hectares of the island is now a national park, another part is State Forest and about a third is private farmland. There is a separate page on this site about Gunbower-Perricoota Forest and also a downloadable brochure on birding trails.
Gunbower Development Group Inc. has been established to promote tourism in the area. It has produced a booklet about the birds of the area and is currently preparing a booklet for visitors.
DSE has produced a downloadable brochure about the reserved area between Koondrook and Echuca. Click to download.
The Torrumbarry Weir is very popular with boaters, anglers, campers and bird observer. There is a kiosk, an information centre, toilets and lawns. There is also a commercial holiday park. Meals and basic supplies can be purchased at the townships of Gunbower and Torrumbarry. Bushland upstream of the weir includes some lagoons, including Black Charlie Lagoon.
Torrumbarry to Echuca
The reserve continues upstream of Torrumbarry. Some stretches of the reserve are very narrow.
Bends which form part of the park include (from Torrumbarry upstream) William, Norris, Crossman, Fulham, Baillieu, Arnold, Betha, Wills, Kelly, Casey, Braund, Latham, Burnanga and Hairpin.
A number of areas have been fenced off. However, day visitors are able to access these areas. Dispersed camping is allowed elsewhere.
Day visitor areas include:.
William Bend and Torrumbarry Weir, Torrumbarry Weir Road
Norris Bend, Headworks Road
Crossman Bend, Sexton Road
Fulham Bend, Young Road
Baillieu Bend, Baillieu Road
Doma Bend, Piantas Road
Stokes and Girriwi Bends, Nolan Road
Sarandu and Braund Bends, Braund Road
Latham and Burnanga Bends, Latham Road, and
Hairpin Bend, Wharparilla Drive
The widest sections are at Richardsons Lagoon (Baillieu Lagoon Wildlife Area) and Wills Bend.
Located alongside the Murray River downstream of Echuca, at the end
of O'Dwyer Road (VicRoads Map 31 C3), Wills Bend is a popular camping,
fishing and picnicking area. Bird watchers are usually pleased with
the variety of birds found here and in the Torrumbarry area generally.
Wills Bend is part of Murray River Park.
There are designated camping sites at the Wills Bend sandbars. Toilet facilities are available here over the summer months. Dispersed camping is allowed elsewhere.
In Echuca, the reserve is to incorporate bushland along the Campaspe River to its confluence with the Murray, including Victoria Park bushland. The Banyula Forest, upstream of the Echuca-Moama bridge, is to be an historic and cultural features reserve and the local Shire may be asked to assume management of it.
Parks Victoria page on Murray River reserves from Robinvale to Echuca
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The former Echuca Regional Park
The former Echuca Regional Park is now part of Murray River Park. Further upstream, the bushland is now part of Lower Goulburn River National Park. This area of bushland can accessed from Echuca by Goulburn Road, which becomes Bangerang Road, and the Echuca to Barmah (Stewarts Bridge) Road.
The original wooden Stewarts Bridge, which was closed to all traffic for many months during the first decade of this century, has been replaced by a new one-lane
concrete structure open to all traffic.
Regional Park (563 hectares) is/was a series of riverside reserves near
Echuca. Located upstream of Echuca along the Murray River, a large block
is near Echuca Village, (access from Bangarang Road i.e. Echuca-Nathalia
Road). An area of sandhill and billabongs, accessible from Simmie Road,
is a good birding area. VicRoads Map 31 F3.
features River Red Gum, Cherry Ballart, Black Box, Lignum, Silver Wattle,
Black Box and a number of other interesting plants. It is an ideal spot
for birding and bush camping. Unfortunately, however, some campers have
removed timber rather than their rubbish, and sizeable areas are dotted
with tree stumps. Despite this, the reserve is worth visiting, particularly
in Spring and on hot summer evenings. Kangaroos and emus are often sighted.
strip between the sign shown above (alongside Echuca-Nathalia Road)
and Stewarts Bridge is covered in wildflowers during the Spring, with
a carpet of native tall blue bells. Upstream of Stewarts Bridge, the
Murray has low banks because it is only a few thousand years old. Downstream
of Stewarts Bridge the Murray flows in the course of the old Goulburn
River and the banks are several metres high. The photo is taken upstream
of Stewarts Bridge.
Track runs alongside the Murray from just north of Cape Horn Vineyard
to Gallaway Track, which meets Stewarts Bridge (Echuca-Nathalia) Road
near the 12km peg on Stewarts Bridge Road; it can be followed by motorists
and bush walkers and gives access to many good camping sites.
are some track notes on a 15km walk in the park.
Drive from Echuca via Bangerang Road and, where the bitumen ends,
turn left onto Stewarts Bridge (Echuca-Nathalia) Road. If prior permission
has been obtained from the vineyard owners, leave some cars at Cape
Horn Vineyard. Otherwise, leave cars on public land alongside cape
Horn Track. All walkers need to be conveyed four per vehicle toward
Barmah. Shortly beyond 12km from Stewarts Bridge, take a dirt track
to the right for a few hundred metres and leave remaining cars out
of sight from the road.
0km. Walk back along this track or overland to Stewarts Bridge Road,
cross this road and cut across to Kiln Track.
1.4km Turnoff to Gallaway Track. You can take a minor left track and
then walk cross country to the north-west (using a compass) until
the riverside Kiln Loop Track is reached
If you keep to Gallaway Track rather than walking overland, turn left
onto Kiln Loop Track (3km)
4.5km Tree with cross
5.8km Clearing and camp area
6.7km Red Gum; maze of tracks; the minor tracks lead to the Murray
7.6km Trees with large white painted circles; ignore Kalkunda Track
and remain on Kiln Loop Track
8.2km 1744 sign on tree
8.8km Track to river with cliff bank across river.
9.8km Another track goes to the right
12.3km Echuca-Nathalia Road ~ walk parallel to river 13km Shackells
Folly Bridge ~ If the creek is dry, to save time and distance, cross
the creek prior to the bridge and follow Cape Horn Track back to Cape
15km Cape Horn Vineyard ~ enter through riverside gate
15.4km Afternoon Tea; some cars need to return drivers to cars parked
in forest near the 12km post.
Topographic maps: Barmah 2825-1-11:25,000
and Moama 7825-1-4 !:25,000 (VicMap). Note: do not purchase the NSW
version of the Moama map (unless there is a later version to mine) because
it only details the NSW side of the Murray River.
Upstream of Barmah
Upstream of Echuca, the park is expected to encompass the existing Echuca Regional Park which is located between the Stewarts Bridge Road and the Murray River.
It is in this vicinity that the new park meets the newly proclaimed Lower Goulburn River National Park. There is a separate page on this site about the Lower Goulburn River National Park.
Further upstream, much of Barmah Forest has been declared a national park. It is expected that areas of bushland further upstream will be sections of Murray River Park.
One reserved area, Carters Beach, is at the northern end of Ulupna Bridge Road.
Woperana Forest, near Tocumwal, lies upstream of Ulupna Island and Carters Beach. There are a number of beaches along this stretch of river. These can be accessed by taking Ulupna Bridge Road, Labbetts Track and side tracks off Loop Track.
Tocumwal Regional Park is expected to be part of Murray River Park. This section is popular with campers. There are toilets immediately upstream of the Newell Highway bridge.
Further upstream again is Cobram State Forest. There are also several good riverside camp sites along this reach of the river.
Parks Victoria page on Murray River Park from headwaters to Echuca
The following is based on information on the web site of Victoria's Department of Sustainability and Environment:
For local residents, the forests along the Murray River are likely to remain much as they’ve always been.
It is hoped that the new park will increase the number of visitors to the area and boost the regional economy.
A whole range of activities will continue to be enjoyed in the pars. Camping, fishing, water sports, horse riding, four wheel driving, trail bike riding and, except on days of Total Fire Ban, the use of campfires will all continue to be permitted.
Campers will still be able to choose where they camp in the park. In the most popular areas, waste disposal facilities are expected to be improved.
Trail bike riding and four wheel driving will continue to be permitted on existing roads.
Firewood collection within the park is not likely to be permitted except in certain designated areas. However, it is expected that campers may collect small amounts of fallen timber for camp fires. Many conservation-minded people are opposed to the collection of firewood and are particularly opposed to fires on warm summer days.
Cattle grazing will not be permitted in the park.
Commercial timber harvesting licences will cease in the park.
Through its Our Water Our Future program, the Victorian Government will endeavour to provide long-term protection for all floodplains within the new Red Gum parks. However, this will depend on water availability across the entire Northern Victorian water system, as detailed in the Draft Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy.
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As stated above, the dominant tree alongside the Murray River is River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). Murray Pine (Callitris glaucophylla) grows on sandhills and River Red Gum gives way to Black Box on areas which are inundated for short periods on occasions. Grey Box (E. microcarpa) grows on higher land that does not flood and Yellow Box (E. melliodora) grows on areas of richer soil.
Understorey plants along the river includes Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha), Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata) and Dwarf Native Cherry (Exocarpus stricta).
Understorey plants which grow with Box include Gold-dust Wattle (Acacia acinacea) and Black-anther Flax Lilly (Dianella admixta).
Other shrubs of the riverside forests include Cooba (aka Native Willow) (Acacia salicina), River Cooba (Acacia stenophylla), Moonah (Melaleuca lanceolata) and Weeping Pittosporum (Pittosporum angustifolium).
In places that are sometimes flooded, Billy Button Everlastings (Craspedia variabilis) are commonplace.
Reeds (Phragmites australis) line the river in places where cattle are absent. Giant Rush (Juncus ingens) and Moira Grass (Pseudoraphis spinescens) dominate plains which are sometimes inundated for several weeks at a time.
See the indigenous plants section of this site for photographs and more information about the region's vegetation.
Potential threats facing Murray River Park
- climate change, resulting in increased temperatures, reduced rainfall and increased incidence of storms
water management (quality, frequency, season, duration)
forest management (e.g. failure to remove thickets of saplings, failure to control firewood collection)
- lack of policing and enforcement of park rules, resulting in tree removal, fires, rubbish deposition, vandalism
- weed encroachment
(e.g. Arrowhead, thistles)
animals (e.g. rabbits, brumbies, pigs)
- damage to banks and vegetation by cattle
- increased LONG TERM fire risk owing to grazing (cattle may spread flammable weeds and, by eating nutritious, less palatable plants, encourage the spread of woody and flammable plants such as Juncus ingens
- damage to shrubs as a result of grazing
to fish movement
- flood damage
to water movement and to the movement of native fish and other fauna
Murray River Park
Click here to go to Echuca Landcare
Group's home page
here to go to BirdLife Echuca District home page