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The Timber Cutters RunTM

Touring the Murray River

Let me take you on a journey, a REAL hidden gem! Tourism organisations often spruik destinations as hidden gems, but few can compare to Mathoura (located between Echuca/Moama and Deniliquin) when it comes to the real thing.

Home of the largest Red Gum forest in the world, this region of the Murray River is also the place where the river changed its course due to a massive earthquake that created the Cadell Fault/Tilt, the Barmah Forest, the Narrows (or Barmah Choke), and an intriguing sand ridge that extends for most of the distance between Moama and Deniliquin.

Add to that, not many people know of the place in the middle, Mathoura, nor its fantastic access to the rivers and waterways. For that, it is a bonafide, unique, hidden gem.


We acknowledge that the Yorta Yorta people are the traditional custodians of the Central Murray and so pay our respect to their elders, past and present.


The Timber Cutters RunTM

The Timper Cutters RunTM is a touring route that extends from Echuca/Moama to Deniliquin along the Murray River to Mathoura's Picnic Point then along the Gulpa Creek which runs along the Cadell Fault Line.

Much of the route is through various section Murray Valley National Park and provides a unique insight to the formation of the Red Gum forests, sand ridges and waterways that are a direct result of the seismic events of 60,000 years ago that shaped this unique region of the Murray River.

The roads throughout this route are mostly unsealed but well-maintained, and RV suitable (offroad set-up recommended).

After rain, the roads can become slippery, so care/experience is needed. Check with Park's office and/local authorities if in doubt.

Throughout this touring route, more accessible/safer alternative ways through are possible.

If doing the Long Paddock touring route from Moama to Wilcannia, this touring route is an excellent alternative to the Moama-Deniliquin section and does not bypass any of the waypoints of that route.

Echuca/Moama to Barmah

The Goulburn River and Murray River junction near Echuca, NSW, AustraliaThe Goulburn River and Murray River junction near Echuca, NSW, Australia

Touring Route Description

The start/finish point of the Timber Cutters RunTM is Echuca/Moama with the first leg to Barmah follows the Murray River along the Victorian side of the river from Echuca to Barmah with some beautiful river vistas to along the way.

This route crosses the Goulburn River, a tributary of the Murray which is sourced from Woods Point and the Victorian High Country and is believed to be the original course of the Murray River before the events that caused the Cadel tilt.

There is an opportunity also the see where the Goulburn River joins the Murray River, but large caravans are not advice on this track as there is little room to turn around.

It is a worthwhile experience the see the ancient Goulburn river jin the mighty Murray.

Touring Route Details:

Road/TrackDistance (km)Cumulative (km)TurnRoad Type
Goulburn Road2.202.20RightSealed
Bangerang Road7.259.45LeftSealed
Stewarts Bridge Road22.5031.95LeftGravel
Barmah-Shepparton Road5.9637.91Sealed

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About Barmah:

Trivia Time: Barmah is the only Victorian town north of the Murray River. (due to the winding nature of the river, this section has Victoria to the north of the river.)

Barmah is a small Murray River town which is known as the gateway to the superb Barmah National Park which is home to the largest forest of red gum in the world. It is the importance of the red gum forest and the appeal of the Murray River, which is central to the attractions in the area.

It is thought the town's name comes from a Yorta Yorta word 'Paama' meaning 'meeting place'.

In 1863-64 the railway line from Bendigo to Echuca was built and consumed large volumes of sleepers cut from the red gums in the Barmah forest. A punt began operation, joining the tracks from Echuca to Yarrawonga where they crossed the Murray River. In 1886 a town was surveyed on elevated ground near the punt, and the resulting Barmah village became a river outlet for wool from surrounding pastoral stations. It also became the shipping point for railway sleepers cut for domestic use and export to India and New Zealand.

By the 1950s there was evidence that the weirs built on the Murray River for irrigation were decreasing the flood frequency in the Barmah forest. The change of rhythm reduced the germination of red gum seedlings and interfered with the breeding of water birds. Effluent from human and farm activity also adversely affected water quality. Flood regulators were installed by 1959.

Barmah to Mathoura

Now the real fun begins!

The Murray River along Barmah River Road, Barmah, Victoria, AustraliaThe Murray River along Barmah River Road, Barmah, Victoria, Australia

Touring Route Description

The journey from Barmah to Mathoura (Picnic Point) follows the Murray River (NSW side) through the Murray Valley National Park (Moria section) with excellent access to the river along, well-maintained tracks through the forest.

At times of flooding and after heavy rains, some of this route may be closed, an alternate way may still be possible (See map and check with local Parks website)

Touring Route Details:

Road/TrackDistance (km)Cumulative(km)TurnRoad Type
Barmah Road1.001.00RightSealed
Barmah River Road7.508.50RightGravel
Moria Creek Road7.4015.90LeftGravel
Dora Creek Road1.6017.50RightGravel
Algeboia Road0.9018.40RightGravel
Dora Road4.0022.40Left/MergeGravel
Coolamon Road4.3026.70RightGravel
Swifts Creek Road3.9030.60RightGravel
Hut Road7.6038.20Right/MergeGravel
Poverty Point Road2.7040.90RightSealed
Picnic Point Road1.0041.90Sealed

The River Road follows the river until Moira Creek Road (a right turn) which proceeds up to Moira Lake and westward along the Millewa irrigation channel. There is no route along the Murray River north between Moira Lake and Barmah Lake, hence the need to go around Moira Lake to the west.

Once around the lake, Swifts Creek Road heads east back to the Murray River and Swifts Creek campground.  Similar to the south of the lakes, vehicle access to the lakes along the Murray River is not possible, but form the north of the lakes, it is possible to reach the lakes via a walking trail.

From Swifts Creek campground, the route heads north towards Picnic Point with lovely vistas of the Murray River.

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About Mathoura

Mathoura is an integral part of the Long Paddock touring route that retraces a historic cattle-run from Moama (just over the Murray River from Echuca), through Deniliquin, Hay, Ivanhoe and Wilcannia.

Along the way - at Moama, Mathoura, Deniliquin, Pretty Pine, Wanganella/Boorooban, Hay, and Ivanhoe - are various sculptures depicting the history of the route; in addition to interpretive signs to learn more about this iconic stock route.

Walking one of the many walking trails around Mathoura, NSW.Walking one of the many walking trails around Mathoura, NSW.

Mathoura began as a market garden and a pub on a drovers track (part of the Long Paddock) in the mid-1800s and built itself as a timber source for the developing young nation of Australia. Not surprisingly, timber remains an economic mainstay of the area ever since the woodcutters first arrived in the 1850s. The Red Gum timber is used for railway sleepers, furniture, landscaping, firewood, fence posts, and much more.

Mathoura is one of the best places to experience all that the forests and rivers have to offer. The town of Mathoura grew out of a need to service the drovers’ route of the Long Paddock between Deniliquin and Echuca. As the stock route became less critical, attention in the area turned to the treasured resource of the Red Gum forests, and soon the valuable timbers were harvested to help build our growing nation. Red Gum was a useful resource for roads in Melbourne as well as sleepers for the expanding railroads.

Mathoura See and Do:

The very well appointed visitor information centre is a great place to learn about the area and can provide information on what the region has to offer including:

  • Local Forests and Wetlands
  • Indigenous Culture
  • River eco-systems
  • Reed Bird Hide
  • Heritage Trail
  • Walking Trails
  • Cadell fault/tilt and associated sand ridges
  • The original course of the Murray (Green Gully)
  • Picnic Point

The Barmah-Moira lake system in addition to the Edward River and Gulpa Creek makes the area an excellent place to experience an abundance of birdlife and some unique fishing spots along the way.

There are several excellent walks through the forest along the Gulpa Creek as well as fantastic forest drives that can be undertaken by car or bicycle; the peaceful nature of the latter enhanced by the natural beauty of the serene forests.

A short drive from Mathoura, along the now-sealed Picnic Point Road, through the forest along the Gulpa Creek, is Picnic Point Reserve. Located on a horseshoe bend of the Murray River Millewa, Moira and Barmah forests, it is a place of water activities, nature walks, accommodation, and a new bar/cafe/restaurant aptly named The Timber Cutter.

In 2010 the Millewa, Gulpa and Moira State Forest was converted to a National Park, now known as the Murray Valley National Park.

The Cadell Fault

The Cadell Fault Mathoura, Gulpa Creek, New South Wales, AustraliaThe Cadell Fault beside the Gulpa Creek at Mathoura, New South Wales, Australia

Around 60,000 years ago, a seismic event changed the course of the Murray River; it is considered one of the world's most spectacular altering the course of a river. While it may seem a long time in the past, it is good to put into the context of Australian history in that indigenous history reaches further back into history. (65,000 years for the earliest evidence of humans in Australia).

Research reveals that several sizable earthquakes lifted the land between Echuca and Delinquin to the east of present-day Cobb Highway (The Long Paddock touring route).
The findings summarised that the original course of the Murray River was actually west through present day Mathoura through a watercourse known as Green Gulley which is still visible today and fills with water during heavy floods.

Slideshow - Cadell Fault and its effect on the Murray River

Several earthquakes around 60,000 years ago, lifted the landscape between Echuca/Moama and Deniliquin. The shift/tilt is known as the Cadell shift or the Cadell Fault. The height of the lift was up to

01 - The original course of the Murray River, which travelled west past present-day Mathoura via Green Gulley, and the Goulburn River which flowed to Echuca (as it does today) then continued as on river along the Murray River present day course.

The original course of the Murray River, which travelled west past present-day Mathoura via Green Gulley, and the Goulburn River which flowed to Echuca (as it does today) then continued as on river al

02 - Several earthquakes around 60,000 years ago, lifted the landscape between Echuca/Moama and Deniliquin. The shift/tilt is known as the Cadell shift or the Cadell Fault. The height of the lift was up to 15 metres.

The Cadell Fault was significant enough to block the flow of the Murray from its original course south of Mathoura along what is now known as Green Gully (still visible today)

03 - The Cadell Fault was significant enough to block the flow of the Murray from its original course south of Mathoura along what is now known as Green Gully (still visible today)​

The Cadell Tilt block both the Murray and Goulburn rivers - the latter to a lesser extent -  and the inundation created two large lakes: The Northern Lake (between Mathoura and Barmah) and Lake Kanyap

04 - The Cadell Tilt block both the Murray and Goulburn rivers - the latter to a lesser extent -  and the inundation created two large lakes: The Northern Lake (between Mathoura and Barmah) and Lake Kanyapella (between Barmah and Moama)

With larger snowmelts (compared to today) from the Alpine region to the east, the Murray River pushed northward, creating the Edward River (and Gulpa Creek) which flowed north to Deniliquin, then west

05 - With larger snowmelts (compared to today) from the Alpine region to the east, the Murray River pushed northward, creating the Edward River (and Gulpa Creek) which flowed north to Deniliquin, then westward to the Goulburn River fed Murray River north of Swan Hill.

The Murray River pushes southward through the Northern Lake and forms the Narrows (Barmah Choke) and joins the Goulburn/Murray near Echuca, and creates what we know as today's Murray River.

06 - The Murray River pushes southward through the Northern Lake and forms the Narrows (Barmah Choke) and joins the Goulburn/Murray near Echuca, and creates what we know as today's Murray River.

The formation of the Gulpa Creek closely follows the Cadell Fault. The Edward (with the Gulpa Creek) is an anabranch of the Murray River (leave the Murray and returning to it north of Swan Hill.

07 - The formation of the Gulpa Creek closely follows the Cadell Fault. The Edward (with the Gulpa Creek) is an anabranch of the Murray River (leave the Murray and returning to it north of Swan Hill.

Several earthquakes around 60,000 years ago, lifted the landscape between Echuca/Moama and Deniliquin. The shift/tilt is known as the Cadell shift or the Cadell Fault. The height of the lift was up to The original course of the Murray River, which travelled west past present-day Mathoura via Green Gulley, and the Goulburn River which flowed to Echuca (as it does today) then continued as on river al The Cadell Fault was significant enough to block the flow of the Murray from its original course south of Mathoura along what is now known as Green Gully (still visible today) The Cadell Tilt block both the Murray and Goulburn rivers - the latter to a lesser extent -  and the inundation created two large lakes: The Northern Lake (between Mathoura and Barmah) and Lake Kanyap With larger snowmelts (compared to today) from the Alpine region to the east, the Murray River pushed northward, creating the Edward River (and Gulpa Creek) which flowed north to Deniliquin, then west The Murray River pushes southward through the Northern Lake and forms the Narrows (Barmah Choke) and joins the Goulburn/Murray near Echuca, and creates what we know as today's Murray River. The formation of the Gulpa Creek closely follows the Cadell Fault. The Edward (with the Gulpa Creek) is an anabranch of the Murray River (leave the Murray and returning to it north of Swan Hill.

Mathoura (Picnic Point) to Gulpa/Edward Junction

edward river gulpa creek junction 1The junction of the Gulpa Creek and Edward River, north of Mathoura, NSW

While the run along the Murray River between Barmah and Picnic provides an insight into the river and forests around the Murray River, the route from Picnic Point to the junction of Gulpa Creek and the Edward River is something different.

The Edward River and Gulpa Creek are anabranches of the Murray River meaning they leave the course of the river only to return further downstream. The Edward River flows from the Murray River upstream (north) of Picnic Point and flows northward while the Gulpa Creek flows westward before heading north (as a result of the Cadell Fault). The two meet up 20 km to the north.

Along the Picnic Point Road section, just past Millewa Road, be sure to check the Reed Beds Bird Hide.

The Reed Beds Bird Hide, Mathoura, NSW, Australia.The Reed Beds Bird Hide, Mathoura, NSW, Australia.

Touring Route Description

The route along the Gulpa Creek follows this winding waterway along the Cadell Fault as it meanders northward, and along the way, there are some beautiful, secluded, campsites and picnic areas to experience the wonders of this ethereal place fully.

The road, well maintained by National Parks, can be closed seasonally due to wet/flooding conditions.

To reach the Gulpa-Edward junction, turn right just before the Gulpa Creek Bridge and follow Junction Road all the way (not along any of the side roads/tracks). 

Touring Route Details:

Road/TrackDistance (km)Cumulative (km)TurnRoad Type
Picnic Point Road14.8014.80RightSealed
Gulpa Creek Road11.3826.18RightGravel
Junction Road*5.6531.83Gravel
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Junction Road*5.6537.48RightGravel
Gulpa Walliston Rd0.9638.44RightGravel
Cobb Highway

Turn-around room at the end of the track is good, but might be a little tight for big caravans; in that case, consider the Edward-Gulpa Loop listed next which enables camping along the way (or at Mathoura or Picnic Point)  to explore the area.

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Gulpa Creek- Edward River Loop

This loop along the Gulpa Creek and Edwards river can be started at any point along the route and head out for a beautiful day of touring. The circuit is not long, but with a day to do it, it allows for a more relaxed way to experience the area.

Touring Route Details:

Road/TrackDistance (km)Cumulative (km)TurnRoad Type
Millewa Road2.212.21RightGravel
Picnic Point Road4.366.57RightSealed
Gulpa Creek Road4.0110.58Slight RightGravel
Little Edwards Road0.4511.03RightGravel
Duggans Road3.0014.03Sand
** Sand Ridge Woodlands14.03
Duggans Road3.2617.29LeftSand
Little Edwards Road0.4317.72RightGravel
Gulpa Creek Road10.8017.37RightGravel
Junction Road6.4016.98Gravel
** Gulpa-Edward Junction
Junction Road*6.4023.77RightGravel
Gulpa Creek Road0.6824.45LeftGravel
Taylors Bridge Road4.9329.38RightGravel
Tuppal Road1.2430.62RightGravel
Edward River Road8.2538.87RightGravel
Millewa Road0.5839.45RightGravel

Along this unique route, there are several places to see the sandhills and sand ridges that extend along the Cadell faultline, created as a result of sediment from the two ancient lakes being blown by the prevailing winds in a similar way to the Perry sand hills at Wentworth and the dunes at Lake Mungo. Of particular note, Sand Ridge Woodland, off Duggan Road, provides vehicles access to the hand ridge via maintained, sandy, tracks. (Not RV friendly... and always stay on the formed roads)

Sand Ridge Woodland

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The Edward River

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The junction of the Edward River and Gulpa Creek, north of Mathoura, NSW
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