Many visitors to Mildura bound for the orchards and vineyards will discover that, like many of the street names in Broken Hill, that honor its roots as a mining town, several streets in Mildura are named after the fruits that are grown here. Orange, Lemon, Lime, Cherry and Olive are just a few of them.
This part of northwestern Victoria (and southwestern New South Wales) is known as Sunrayasia. The region produces 80 per cent of the country’s dried fruit and 85 per cent of Victoria’s wine-making grapes, not to mention a fair chunk of Australia’s citrus fruit harvest.
As Mildura Tourism says: “It starts with the river.” George and William Chaffey, Canadian brothers, founded an irrigation settlement along the banks of the Murray River in the 1880s. When soldier settlers and migrants from Ireland, England, Greece, Italy and the former Yugoslavia arrived, they brought with them the cultivation skills that helped to make Mildura the food bowl of Victoria.
The climate is Mediterranean – hot, dry summers (December to February and mild winters (June to August). The wettest months are between May and October.
Christmas, Easter and the school vacations are high season times. The Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival takes place in March, and the Mildura Golf Week and the Mildura Writers’ Festival are in July. The Wintersun Festival is in mid-August and the Tour of the Murray River is at the end of August/start of September. The Mildura Country Music Festival is in September and the Mildura Jazz and Wine Festival in November.
The winter months, June, July and August in particular, are low season times with the exception of winter festivals.
Car rental and taxi services are available at Mildura Airport. A car is necessary for getting out and about. Sunraysia Bus Lines serves Mildura, Red Cliffs and Merbein. Coomealla Bus Lines runs weekday and services between Mildura, Buronga, Dareton and Wentworth.
• Rio Vista is the mansion that W.B. Chaffey built in 1889. It’s now a museum and gallery.
• Red Cliffs is home to the Lindemans Karadoc Winery, one of the largest wineries in Australia. It’s not open to tours but visitors can sample the wines at its Winery Cellar Door. There’s a cafe that serves coffee and light lunches.
• The Trentham Estate Winery, 9 miles from Mildura, has a restaurant and cellar door sales too.
• Some would say that Stefano de Pieri has put Mildura on the foodie map. There are several eateries dotted around Mildura, including the Quality Hotel Mildura Grand, Stefano’s Restaurant, Cafe Bakery and Pub Brewery. There’s also Gallery 25 that exhibits artwork by Australian artists.
• The Sunraysia Farmers’ Market takes place at the botanic gardens on the first and third Saturdays of the month at the botanic gardens.
• The Australian Inland Botanic Gardens displays plants from around the world by region, country or continent of origin. The Australian sections are organized by state. The European Summer and 2,500-year-old WOW tree are just two of the must-sees.
• The Hattah-Kulkyne and Mungo national parks are a couple of hours’ drive away. Heart-stopping desert landscapes and evidence of indigenous campfires and middens going back almost 50,000 years await walkers and campers.