The picturesque Discovery Parks, Maidens Inn, Moama extended gracious hospitality to the large contingent recently involved in AL-KO Best Aussie Vans (BAV) 2018 — one of the industry’s most recognised and sought-after independent awards.
Our BAV group included event staff, judges, photographers and videographers, along with delegates for the nine competing caravans within four distinct categories.
I was one of four judges — along with CW’s Laura Gray and Malcolm Street, and ebullient contributor John ‘Bear’ Willis — and it goes without saying that everyone received the red-carpet treatment.
The Maidens Inn deluxe holiday cabins were spick and span, and the daily cuisine outstanding. Each day commenced with a nourishing breakfast basket delivered to our doors, followed by tasty catered lunch boxes and excellent dinners at some of the finest establishments in the region.
I was also impressed by the BAV representatives’ strong passion for the RV industry and their immense pride in their respective brands.
We arrived at Maidens Inn, laid out along the banks of the mighty Murray River, on Wednesday, October 10 and, after settling in and a briefing on the jam-packed schedule for the event, we headed off for a sumptuous dinner at the Moama Bowling Club.
The following morning we descended upon Murray Valley National Park where the diligent CW photography and videography team went to work shooting setup, detail and driving images plus video footage (as they did each day at various locations).
Meanwhile, the judges did a ‘crawl through’ of the first arriving caravans, sizing up their relative strengths and weaknesses to assess their all important scores.
Murray River NP provided a spectacular backdrop. This quintessential Aussie landscape features towering river red gums soaring high over the banks of
the Murray, and teeming wetlands that make up this part of the Riverina’s important ecosystem.
At day’s end, we were treated to a fine dinner at Moama RSL's Suvla Bay Bistro.
Friday was now on our mind, and the new location was Cape Horn Vineyard in Echuca. Much as we would have liked to sample a glass or two of the winemaker's work at the cellar door or the bar, time would not permit.
The consolation was a magnificent dinner that night at Junction Moama restaurant and bar, adjacent to the Moama Bowling Club.
Next morning we set off for Morning Glory River Resort, Cape Horn Vineyard’s sister property for more shooting, judging and putting the vans through their paces. Then we regrouped at the American Hotel in Echuca for dinner and drinks, hosted by BAV naming sponsor AL-KO.
Sunday was certainly no day of rest –particularly for the judges who were ‘up with the sparrows’ to provide their insightful comments on each of the competing caravans for our wrap-up video.
By 10am everyone had gathered at the historic Port of Echuca for the AL-KO
Best Aussie Vans ‘Showcase Event’. The Emprise group team worked closely with regional partners to create a fantasic trade-show-like atmosphere.
Built in 1865 by Victorian Railways, the Port of Echuca Wharf was crucial to town's development. For many years, this was the main shipbuilding centre for Australia's river transport industry.
At its peak, Echuca supported eight sawmills and turned over 240 paddlesteamers a year. Some of the boats built here, including the PS Adelaide, still operate on the Murray River today.
After the showcase, the partners packed up their vans and everyone boarded the M.V. Mary Ann for a two-hour river cruise along the mighty Murray River.
Everyone enjoyed drinks and canapes courtesy of leading caravan and RV finance provider Credit One, as the magnificent scenery drifted by. Dinner back at Maidens Inn rounded off an idyllic day.
It’s said that all good things must come to an end, and on the final day of BAV we briefly revisited Murray Valley NP, to pick up some last minute shots and footage before heading for home. AL-KO Best Aussie Vans 2018 was officially over, but the fond memories of the endearing Echuca Moama region will linger
Quite simply, it was the ‘best of the best’ — Australia’s best caravans superbly showcased in the ‘twin towns’ on the banks of the magnificent Murray River, which is flooded with significant cultural and heritage interest.
WORK, REST AND PLAY
Discovery Parks, Maidens Inn, Moama
Address: Deniliquin Street, Moama, NSW 2731
Phone: (03) 5480 9253
Freecall: 1800 356 801
Maidens Inn has excellent cabin and caravan accommodation. The park features an activity room (games room), bouncing pillow, family bathroom, laundry, swimming pool, barbecue, camp kitchen, hire equipment (luxurious pontoon boats), playground, waterpark, boat ramp, dump point, kiosk/store, sports facilities. Pets are allowed (sites only).
Murray Valley National Park
Address: Nearby towns - Moama (30km); Deniliquin (36km)
Phone: (03) 5483 9100
This new park, formed from a number of former state forests, is part of the largest continuous river red gum forest in the southern hemisphere and is an important and unique ecosystem.
The Ramsar-listed Murray Valley wetland is home to more than 60 threatened native animal species and 40 threatened plant species. It is also an important place for Aboriginal people.
Cape Horn Vineyard
Address: 489 Stewarts Bridge Road, Echuca,
Phone: (03) 5480 6013
Named after the riverbed resembling Cape Horn on the tip of South America, Cape Horn Vineyard is located on a sand hill wedged between the Murray and Goulburn rivers, just 15 minutes drive from Echuca.
A newly constructed two-storey five-bedroom Vineyard Villa features breathtaking Murray River and vineyard vistas from every window.
Morning Glory River Resort
Address: Gilmour Road - RMB 1100, Moama, NSW 2731
Phone: (03) 5869 3357
Family owned and operated, Morning Glory River Resort offers families a unique Murray River holiday experience.
Located 25 minutes from the historic Echuca-Moama region with its plethora of shops, restaurants and wineries, and just 15 minutes
from the Barmah National Park and wetlands, Morning Glory River Resort is perfectly situated
for exploring the many attractions the area has
Port of Echuca (Discovery Centre)
Address: 74 Murray Esplanade, Echuca,
Phone: (03) 5481 0500
Freecall: 1300 942 737
The old Port of Echuca has a rich history and has been lovingly restored to its glory days. It features charming century-old buildings, and the National Holden Motor Museum — the largest one-make car museum in Australia.
Today, the Port represents the pageantry of the river trade’s heyday and offers an extraordinary insight into our pioneering days. The Echuca Wharf is a surviving part of the great red gum wharf, which once stretched for more than a quarter of a mile.
Moama Bowling Club
Address: 6 Shaw Street, Moama, NSW 2731
Phone: (03) 5481 3777
Freecall: 1800 806 777
Dubbed Echuca-Moama’s premier sports and entertainment venue, the Moama Bowling Club’s ‘The Bistro’ — set in contemporary and stylish surrounds — serves up a wide variety of traditional favorites as well as a selection of mouth-watering specialties, including steaks, seafood, pasta and risotto.
Address: Merool Lane, Moama, NSW 2731
Phone: (03) 5482 6677
Established in 1990, Moama RSL is a family-friendly venue with a bistro, cafe, sports lounge, TAB Bar, gaming lounge, and indoor/outdoor kids’ play areas. It also has several function rooms available for hire.
Weekly promotions include bingo, raffles and a members’ draw, along with regular live entertainment.
There’s also a free Courtesy Bus pickup and drop off service for members and guests, plus a takeaway alcohol service.
Address: 239-249 Hare Street, Echuca,
Phone: (03) 5480 0969
The American Hotel is an eat, drink and play venue. Offtering everything from locally sourced, fresh seasonal produce to a range of craft beers on tap and bottle, and live entertainment, this is one of Echuca’s most popular meeting places.
Echuca-Moama Visitor Centre
Address: 2 Heygarth Street, Echuca, Vic 3564
Phone: (03) 5480 7555
Freecall: 1800 804 446
The Echuca Moama Visitor Centre is located in the Old Pump Station, beside the bridge spanning the Murray, joining the twin towns of Echuca Moama to create one holiday destination.
It offers a full accommodation and attraction booking service as well as a wedding and event register to cater for group bookings.
Hours of operation: Mon-Sat (9am-5pm); Sun (10am-4pm). Closed Christmas Day.