Howlong

Sitting on the New South Wales side of the River Murray, the intriguingly-named border town of Howlong has plenty to offer visiting grey nomads, including great fishing, great scenery, a fascinating history … and proximity to some of the country’s best wineries!

Located on the Riverina Highway about 30 kilometres west of Albury, today Howlong has a population of less than 3,000. Despite its diminutive size though, this spot played a pivotal role in the opening up of Australia.

Back in 1836, the then NSW surveyor-general, Major Thomas Mitchell, set up camp on the southern bank before making the first crossing of the Murray as part of his Australia Felix expedition. The historic crossing spot is now a pleasant roadside stopping place on the Victorian side of the river, and includes a monument to Mitchell.

Howlong a place for grey nomads to visit

Howlong is filled with some really interesting historic buildings, and the best way to check them out is to follow the established 13-kilometre History Trail, which guides visitors past 28 significant locations in the area.

Highlights include the Old Post Office which was built in 1898; St Brigid’s Catholic Church which was built in 1877; the Howlong Hotel which was built in 1857; the Punt Hotel which was built in in 1857; and the Mechanics Institute which was built in in 1887.

While a number of Howlong’s pubs have since been converted into private houses, the Court House Hotel is still very much open for business … and its food has a great reputation. The impressive building first opened in 1880, but underwent extensive renovations in 1902 … which is the date prominently displayed on its façade.

gods country murals in Howlong

The Gods Country murals are a colourful hit in Howlong. PIC: North of the Murray

While the Court House might be great place to get a beer, many visitors here are actually keen to go elsewhere to get a wine. This is a famous grape-growing region and Rutherglen is just 20 kilometres from town, with many excellent wineries dotted all around.

The town itself is well serviced, and has a very well-thought of bakery. There’s a couple of good caravan parks in the area, including the spacious Howlong Caravan Park which is within walking distance of a scenic river beach … the perfect spot to throw in a line and hopefully land a Murray Cod!

There’s 48-hour free camping the Howlong Lions Park Rest Area, and there’s also free camping at Doolans Bend, about eight kilometres from Howlong on the Victorian side of the Murray.

Howlong certainly does what it can to make grey nomads feel welcome and – while there were no suitable silos around to create a giant work of art – the town decided it still wanted to brighten the place up for travellers. The result was two stunning murals, ‘God’s Country’, created by local artist Tracy Hancock which depict the beautiful colours reflecting on the Murray River.

And what about the town’s name? Surely it was thought of by an early explorer after a particularly epic journey to get here?

Strangely not.

The name actually comes from an Aboriginal word, ‘Oolong’, meaning either ‘beginning of the plains’ or ‘the place of brolgas’.

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