48 hours in Swan Hill for history buffs

A bustling modern town tucked away in northwest Victoria, Swan Hill is situated on the south bank of the Murray River. Because of its location at the heart of Australia’s Food Bowl region, this Victorian town is known for its wonderful local food scene. However, Swan Hill’s history is what makes it especially popular among culture and history buffs. From a popular regional art gallery and museums to historic paddle steamers, Swan Hill has it all. Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Swan Hill and explore the town’s famous sites.

Day 1

9am: Go fishing in the ancient River Murray 

The Murray River encompasses the character of the region’s rich heritage, history and natural beauty. Who wouldn’t want to catch the local Murray cod in an ancient river that dates back 130 million years? Many visitors to Swan Hill like to go fishing in Australia’s most important water highway, the iconic Murray River.

12pm: Grab a bite at Quo Vadis

Try some of the popular Italian dishes at Quo Vadis, a family-run restaurant who share history with the Swan Hill region since 1988. Our pick – order their special homemade beef lasagne with a side of steak cut chips.

2:00pm: Step back in time at the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement 

The Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement is a recreation of the port town that once was on the Murray River. Replicating the era of the paddle steamer, visitors will be surprised to find that the structures at the Pioneer Settlement are original buildings from back in the day. An educational and fun-filled experience for all ages, this Mallee township has something for everyone. Enjoy butter-making, taking a cruise aboard the paddle steamer Pyap, and a horse-drawn carriage ride.   

swan hill for history buffs
Vintage car at Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement. Image courtesy Visit Victoria

Tip: The suggested time duration at the Pioneer Settlement is more than 3 hours. According to your preference, you can have the Pioneer Settlement experience in the afternoon, followed by their popular laser light show in the evening.

Fun fact: The paddle steamer Pyap was built in South Australia in 1896 and for 70 years, it served as a floating shop on the Murray River.

swan hill for history buffs
Paddle steamer at Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement. Image courtesy Visit Victoria

8pm: Heartbeat of the Murray: Watch the unique laser light show

Get ready to be blown away by the award-wining laser light show called Heartbeat of the Murray. The show is first-of-its-kind to use a natural river environment as a background setting to tell the story of the history of the River Murray. To do this, the show uses water, lasers, light, and special effects to become a unique storyteller to its visitors. Be sure to get there on time to avoid missing any bits about the history of the Pioneer Settlement.

Day 2

8am: Start your day with a big breakfast

Head to Spoons Riverside, a cute Aussie café located on the Little Murray River. Spoons Riverside has outdoor seating with a picturesque view of the river and offers a range of fresh, seasonal and regional food options.

swan hill for history buffs
Couple dine at Spoons Riverside Cafe Restaurant. Image courtesy Visit Victoria

9am: Swan Hill Region Information Centre

A great place to start your day, the region’s information centre offers historic facts, local insight on the best places to eat and on-going events in town. Visitors will find everything from information on local attractions to historic souvenirs in this centre.

Tip: Take a selfie with the Giant Murray Cod (11 metres in length & 6 metres wide) located across the street and add it to your collection of ‘Australia’s Big Things’ as you make your way across this vast country.

10am: Drop by the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery 

Established in 1966, this regional art gallery is home to one of Australia’s most comprehensive collections of naïve art, prints and drawings. The gallery inspires visitors with artwork from the 1970s and even hosts events. Located next to the Marraboor River, the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery is a must-visit when you’re in town.

11am: Dive into history at the Flying Boat Museum

Only a 15-minute drive from Swan Hill and you’ll find yourself in Lake Boga, a popular tourist attraction and home to the Flying Boat Museum. What was previously a Royal Australian Air Force flying boat base is now a site of the secret RAAF Repair Depot. It is the perfect destination for history buffs to learn about the Catalina Flying Boat from World War II.

Tip: Discover about the region’s rich aboriginal history at the Story Wall located at the end of Lake Boga.

1pm: Make a trip to a nearby historic landscape

Get into the country spirit and drop by the Murray Downs sheep homestead, a sheep station that’s been there since the early pioneer days. Over 40 square km in size, it represents over 160 years of pastoral practice in the region.

Tip: If you have the time, visit another homestead in Tyntynder, a town known for its football league, the Central Murray Football League.

2:30pm: Gear up to go on a historic trail

Choose from one of two popular trails in Swan Hill that each offer something unique to visitors. A 4.5km trail, ‘The River Walk’ educates visitors about the region’s flora and fauna history. While the ‘Now and Then’ trail guides visitors through the streets of Swan Hill with the remainder of the surrounding historic buildings, reminiscing of a simpler time.

4pm: Take your pick at Two Vintage Sisters

Two Vintage Sisters is a unique shop that offers visitors a chance to take home a piece of history. From clothes and furniture to paintings and ornaments – choose from a range of antiques and collectables.

Need a place to stay?

Situated close the local shopping precincts, Comfort Inn Lady Augusta is the ideal base in Swan Hill. Stay at one of 24 inviting hotel rooms and enjoy amenities including room service and complimentary WiFi. Another great accommodation option is the Comfort Inn Campbell located on the popular Murray River. Wine and dine at the on-site licensed restaurant, Peppercorn on Campbell, which provides a selection of local Murray River wines.

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