Family-friendly Holiday in Mildura, Victoria | Adelaide to Mildura Road Trip

Family-friendly holiday in Mildura, Victoria – what to do and where to go with kids.

Mildura is known as the centre of Victoria’s food bowl and is a major producer of citrus fruit and wine. It’s also an idyllic holiday destination.

Review by Carla Caruso

Pre-Christmas, we had the idea of doing a quick family getaway to the Riverland.

But because we were booking last-minute, as is typical of us, we had difficulty finding anywhere to stay for the length of time we wanted.

Then I had a brainwave … what about Mildura?

It’s only a hop, skip and a jump across the border, in Victoria – about four-and-a-half hours’ drive from Adelaide. (Adelaide is actually its closest capital city.) And I’d never been to the regional city before.

Mildura also has a big Italian community, which goes with my heritage. (I’m part of an Italian-Australian writers’ group, Ascolta Women Write, and a few members live there.)

So, we booked our trip and off we went. We stayed in a neat, spacious cabin at the BIG4 Mildura Getaway Holiday Park

Upon arrival, Mildura feels a lot like the Riverland, with its red dirt, endless sunshine, and views of the mighty Murray – only it’s a lot bigger and more cosmopolitan. Compare the population of Renmark (about 10,000) to Mildura’s (35,000).

Mildura even has an outdoor mall, named Langtree, which is like a mini version of Adelaide’s Rundle one. (Mildura Central is another big shopping centre there.) It also has suburbs.

So, you get a little bit of the city in the country. We loved our stay there. Here are a few of our must-dos from our trip.

Orange World

Not only is Mildura close to the South Australian border, it also borders New South Wales. So, this attraction is actually just minutes across the bridge in NSW’s Mourquong.

Citrus-growing is a big industry in the Sunraysia region and there’s no better place to learn about it than Orange World.

The site’s a working, 20ha citrus property, offering informative tours around its rows of citrus varieties, avocado trees, and tree-grafting areas.

Owner Mario Mammone is an entertaining host, always ready with a joke and with a twinkle in his eye.

First, our kids got to try their hand at turning oranges into juice (the drink couldn’t taste sweeter!). Then we were run through what happens in the quaint-looking packing shed.

Next up, we were off on a tractor-train ride around the property, with Mario providing educational commentary throughout – with a side of ‘juicy’ humour.

Naturally, we were unable to resist spending up at the gift shop at the end. Products range from chocolate-coated dried oranges to orange blossom honey and citrus marmalades.

Woodsie’s Gem Shop

One of our sons is partial to crystals, so visiting Woodsie’s Gem Shop was non-negotiable. 

The quirky destination boasts an extensive collection of crystals, fossils, and carvings from all over the globe.

In its ‘Aladdin’s Cave’, you can learn about which countries and states of Australia the beautiful stones originate from and see what they look like in their natural form. It was surprising to learn how many minerals are used in everyday life.

The site also has a garden maze, gift shop, and café (offering generous serves of food) and runs stone-cutting demonstrations.

It’s well worth a visit for those who like shiny, sparkly things.

Paddle Vessel Cruise

A trip to Mildura wouldn’t be complete without a ride on a historic paddle vessel. We booked a leisurely, two-hour cruise with Mildura Paddle Steamers.

Especially exciting was watching Mildura’s Lock 11 in action. A lock is basically an elevator for boats. It lifts boats up or down to the next level on a river by altering the level of the water. This took about 15 minutes to be completed each way.

You can also grab a light lunch while onboard and soak up the scenery and comprehensive commentary.

Beforehand, we enjoyed morning tea at the riverside Cafe 1909 and a walk along the water.

Mildura Arts Centre & Rio Vista House

This spot is a double delight – you can check out the modern art gallery and the historic house, which sits alongside it.

Within the gallery, we were fascinated by the exhibition, Flood: 12 months on, showcasing images and videos by locals of the 2022–23 flood event. The landscape couldn’t have looked more different to us tourists a year on.

The arts centre has a café and bar on-site too.

Meanwhile, next door is the 1889-built, three-storey mansion, which was once the home of William Benjamin Chaffey.

William was instrumental in the introduction of irrigation in Oz. 

Many of the house’s original furnishings remain intact and displays feature Chaffey family memorabilia and other historical artefacts. 

You’ll feel like you’re in the TV show, Downton Abbey.

Mildura Holden Motor Museum

Got a rev-head among your crew? They’ll love the Mildura Holden Motor Museum. The immaculate showroom is the result of the late Ron Morello’s passion for Holden cars.

Sadly, as it says on the site, the local collector was only able to enjoy the museum for nine months before he succumbed to an aggressive cancer. One silver lining was he still got to see his lifelong dream realised.

There are about 30 Holden vehicles to view, starting from the first model made to current models. There’s also a cafe, kids’ activities, and an in-store/online store with unique and exclusive products.

Stopping en-route in the Riverland

Road-tripping to Mildura provides a good excuse to stretch your legs in South Australia’s Riverland along the way.

On our drive in, we paused for a yummy lunch at Renmark’s Twenty-third Street Distillery. As well, the kids enjoyed an extensive play at Monash Adventure Park. It really is a mega playground!

On the way home, citrus was on our minds. So, we stopped at a few of the unique roadside stalls, which the region’s renowned for, like Aggie’s Fresh Fruit Stall in Glossop.

The produce couldn’t be fresher. (Please note: cash is preferred at such stalls.)

We also detoured to the Nippy’s factory-direct kiosk in Waikerie, snaring a few bargains.

Lastly, we had a pic at the Big Orange in Berri. While it looks dilapidated now, there are plans for it to be transformed into a bar, restaurant, and distillery very soon.

We’ll definitely be returning once this comes to fruition. 😉 We love this sun-baked corner of the world. 

What we love about Mildura and its surrounds

  • Sunshine and open skies
  • Tons to do – we barely scratched the surface!
  • River lifestyle and fresh-as produce
  • Regional city with a cosmopolitan vibe

Things to consider

  • The 4.5-hour car ride may test some kids. So, plan a few stops to stretch your legs along the way.
  • Mildura can get baking hot in summer (and dip quite low at night). 

Coffee and food options nearby

A few of the local places we enjoyed dining at included the bustling family bistro, The Gateway (which has a play-space), Vietnamese eatery Mr BunMi, and the riverfront Bobby + Me Cafe (near a free water play park). 

We’ve also heard good things about Blk.mlk Specialty Coffee, Nash Lane Coffee Co, Brother Chris, and Trentham Estate Winery. Next time – fingers crossed!

‘Feast Street’, located in Langtree Avenue, is saturated with more iconic restaurants too.

Location:

 

Review by Carla Caruso

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For more information on Mildura, please visit the Visit Miidura website.

All photos by James Elsby for Play & Go Adelaide December 2023

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

As per all our Play & Go reviews, this is not a sponsored post and our review is done completely independently. All photos are by Play & Go (unless specified).

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