Gunbower Island is Australia’s largest inland island wedged between the Murray River and Gunbower Creek and extends over 50km in length. The island’s lagoons, swamps and river plains, dominated by huge river redgums and box forests, are a wildlife sanctuary for kangaroos, emus, snakes and over one hundred species of birds. It’s a great place for canoeing, bushwalking, bird watching and bike riding. Cohuna sits in the middle and is a very amenable place to start a ride.
Along the lagoons the road is a flat, narrow, winding bitumen road. The return along the highway is wider and straight, but the verge is non-existent on some parts.
As one would expect the highway is pretty busy. You might consider returning along Cleaves and Cohuna Island roads to Cohuna.
Cohuna is 317 kilometres from Melbourne on the Calder Highway via Bendigo and then along the Loddon Valley Highway to Kerang and along the Murray Valley Highway to Cohuna. The ride commences at the car park behind the toilets and information boards on the reserve in the centre of the town on King George Street (Murray Valley Hwy). VicRoads Map 590 J10.
Food and Drink
There is a small range of shops and cafes in friendly Cohuna. Stock up on food and water before you leave and take a picnic lunch to eat beside the lagoons.
There are many more back roads to explore along the Gunbower Creek, perhaps from Gunbower further down the road to Echuca. Also see Ride 6 for the route out to Torrumbarry Weir.
Before leaving Cohuna township explore the weir, the water tower and Apex Park over the river. The ride leaves the town crossing over the bridge and out along the houses and the local parks and ovals. It is really only when the road turns and you come into the surrounding farmland that you look across and the Gunbower shows off its riches.
The river red gums stand majestically in and out of the swampy creek waters that are rich with vegetation and birdlife. Even in the heat of summer this would be a pleasant ride. The next section of the creek is wide and straight and a fine setting for local water skiing. There are picnic areas and a small beach is a restful place to sit for a while. You could have a swim, but take care of snags – don’t dive under the water. Continuing on the road, wherever you meet the creek you are rewarded with magnificent scenery of tall red gums and richly vegetated wetlands.
The temptation is to stop and just sit and take it all in. Even the farmland on the other side of the road is serene. Finally you come onto Cleaves Road, whilst Cohuna Road meanders on, unmade off to the left. You cross over the bridge and skirt the other side of the creek for a short time before the road makes a beeline for the highway through open farmland. The return to Cohuna is pretty ordinary after what you’ve just come through, so maybe just turn around and go back the way you came. If you want to see more of this district, ride or drive down to Kow Swamp and Mt Hope.
Kow Swamp is an important bird sanctuary and has some of Australia’s most significant archaeological finds in large burial grounds dating from 15,000 years ago. Further on Mt Hope, made up of huge blocks of granite, offers panoramic views over the swamp and the Murray Valley region. Kow Swamp is about 26 kilometres from Cohuna on the Mitiamo-Kow Swamp Road off the Murray Valley Highway toward Echuca.
- 0.0 Leave the car park and turn left onto King George St.
- 0.2 Turn left onto Cohuna Island Rd heading over the bridge.
- 1.7 The road bends to the right and you get a good view of the red gums standing in the lagoons’ waters. The road from here on follows the creek.
- 2.6 You pass the picnic grounds where there is a small beach to sit down on beside the river.
- 6.7 You cross over the intersection with Daltons Rd and a bridge over the creek. At this point the road leaves the river for a short time.
- 9.2 You might want to explore Craddocks Rd, which is a dirt road that goes down to the river and loops back.
- 11.2 Taylors Rd is another dead end you might wish to have a look at. The road turns with the creek until you come to the intersection with Cleaves Rd.
- 12.5 Head straight ahead on Cleaves Rd.
- 12.7 Cross over the bridge and continue.
- 14.4 The road meets the Murray Valley Hwy where you can turn right for the 10km ride back to Cohuna or you can retrace you steps.
- 25.1 Turn right from King George St into the car park and the end of the ride.
25.147 km / 15.626 mi
35 m / 115 ft
35 m / 114 ft
91 m / 298 ft