The regional city of Swan Hill is located on the banks of the mighty Murray River in northern Victoria and offers visitors a huge amount to see and do.
At just under four hours’ drive from Melbourne, this historic centre makes a great short break destination and will appeal to families, history buffs and foodies. Here are some of the top things to do in Swan Hill. Book your stay with Choice Hotels.
1. Step back in time at the Pioneer Settlement
Step back in time at the Pioneer Settlement – Swan Hill’s premier attraction. This outdoor museum recreates life for the region’s early European settlers. There are horse and carriage rides, blacksmithing demonstrations, and pioneer cottages and homesteads to explore. Visit the traditional bakery, and best of all, drop by the old-fashioned lolly shop (where you can buy traditional humbugs and raspberry drops!).
Purchase a 3-in-1 multi-pass to enjoy a day at the museum, a cruise on the Murray paddle steamer PS Pyap (dating back to 1896), and entry to the night time laser light spectacular ‘Heartbeat of the Murray’, which takes place at the Pioneer Settlement.
2. Get a culture fix at the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery
Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery is recognised for having one of Australia’s most comprehensive collections of naïve art (notable works created by artists with no formal training). The gallery itself is a work of art and draws on the quintessential Australian wool shed for inspiration. It features beams and columns hewn from local red gum, and walls constructed with hand-made mud bricks. The gallery has a permanent collection and also hosts touring exhibitions.
Related: Top 5 Regional Towns in Victoria
3. Picnic in Riverside Park
If you’re after some ‘me time’, make your way to Riverside Park. It’s located, unsurprisingly, by the river and has lush parklands that are perfect for picnics. Sit on the ’10 steps’ (exactly how many steps will be visible on the day depends on the height of the river) and take in the beauty of the landscape.
4. Snap a selfie with some ‘bigs’
No visit to Swan Hill would be complete without taking advantage of a couple of classic photo opportunities, so you can prove to people you really have ‘been there, done that’. The Burke and Wills Tree is a Moreton Bay fig tree that was planted in 1860 to commemorate the famous explorers as they passed through Swan Hill. The tree is thought to be the largest Moreton Bay fig in the country and its gnarly roots showing above the ground make a great backdrop for a photo.
For a cheesier opportunity to say ‘cheese’, you can’t go past the 11-metre-high Murray cod sitting in front of Swan Hill railway station. The Murray cod is highly prized by local anglers.
5. Enjoy a splash landing at Lake Boga
Those keen on cooling off with a splash should make their way to Lake Boga – 14 kilometres south of Swan Hill. This picturesque body of water has a number of good swimming spots, and is also popular for boating and jet skiing. Lake Boga served as a maintenance base for the famous Catalina flying boats during World War II. See a restored Catalina PBY5 and various other historical exhibits at the Flying Boat Museum.
6. Try a local drop
Swan Hill is a small but well-regarded wine region. Grapes have been grown here for almost a century and the hot dry climate is best suited to Mediterranean varieties. For an all-round introduction to the local industry, visit the cellar door at Andrew Peace Wines (open Monday to Saturday). Many local restaurants serve local wines, which is another opportunity to give them a try.
7. Have a hit on a top-rated course
If you love to play golf and want to check out on one of Victoria’s best courses (well, technically it’s in New South Wales, but it’s just a five-minute drive across the border), plan a visit to the Murray Downs Golf and Country Club. The club is a previous winner of the Victorian PGA Course of the Year. You might even end up sharing the fairways with some local kangaroos.
Need a place to stay?
Comfort Inn Campbell offers a range of room types and is just a ten-minute walk from the Pioneer Settlement. Neighbouring Comfort Inn Lady Augusta offers spa rooms and executive suites, and guests enjoy complimentary parking and Wi-Fi.