Noreuil Park Foreshore, Albury NSW
I recently attended a lovely family wedding in the alpine region of Victoria. Yes, there really is such a thing, and for the record the scenery is quite something. The area is popular for skiing in the winter and gorgeous walks in the summer time. Unless you are my family, who classify ‘treks’ as moving from the carpark to a picnic table, to eat a hikers lunch.
Anyway, I had intended on swimming my way through the alpine region, and the small town of Bright where we were based, home to a small waterhole with an added waterslide and the Bright splash park. I won’t trifle with you readers, it was too bloody cold to get anywhere near that country water.
Instead it was when the altitude was reduced and I found myself in the twin towns of Albury Wodonga, that the heat was turned up and I needed a swim like Keith Richards needs a drink.
Wodonga or Albury, does anyone actually remember which is which? The best way to work it out is to match it alphabetically to each state, Albury comes first (NSW) then Wondonga (Victoria). The real drawcard to the town/s for this swim satorialist is the opportunity to basically swim from one state to the other.
On the banks of the Noreuil Park Foreshore is Albury’s answer to Manly beach. A lovely green park flanked by shady planes trees and the snaking Murray River, this was the place to be on a scorching Sunday.
Popular with picnicking locals, families, and hyperactive kookaburras the main attraction is cooling off in the river, lying on your back and letting the fast moving current do all the work for you.
The best way to travel is with a lilo or an inner tube, and some excellent floatation devices were on display. I’m disappointed I didn’t have my giant swan inflatable, which would have really taken on the passing ducks.
Due to the snaking nature of the river park, a brief walk along the river bank translates into a decent 4-5 minute river ride, even longer if you are prepared to leave your belongings at one end. If you also end up crossing the river you’ll find yourself interstate. Victoria to your left and NSW to your right. Thankfully the two towns have worked out joint healthcare arrangements, if you find yourself unable to make the swim back.
The Murray River is the third longest navigable river in the world, it spans three states and supplies water to more than 1.5 million households. It was once a veritable ‘river highway’ with paddle steamers traffic to rival rush-hour Paramatta road (or so I believe).
Anyway it was less busy when we visited. A top spot to laze the day away, the local council have recently invested in an upgrade of the foreshore area, resulting in some excellent facilities, including picnic tables and barbecues. The park will be even better once the new riverside café opens its doors. For now ice creams and coffees are all that are on offer at the Riverside kiosk.
If you’re looking for something more decent the main street of Albury – Dean St – is less than a kilometer away. It looks like most regional centres of Australia, perhaps with the exception of a Paleo Café (Pete Evans would be proud).
An excellent random find was a couple of blocks south ‘ The Proprietor’ Cafe, a surprise jackpot discovery of locally sourced food; polenta and fruit porridge, cornbeef toastie, figs and honey, mixed with amazing coffee and a Surry Hills style interior (I’m always a sucker for wildflowers in a jar).
Albury, you were a surprising delight, on a sunny Sunday.
High points – A former river sceptic I was slow to embrace a Murray float, but with the helpful current, and swaying plane trees, it was a genuinely excellent swim. Kind of like being on a conveyer belt, underwater.
Low points – locals in their Holden’s doing a ‘deano’ according to the travelling lawyer. Translated, this means cruising the main street in large vehicles.
Attire – blow up dolphins and swans, obviously
Cost – how dare you ask (free)
Best for – the lazy swimmer and good old country fun
Overall score. 8.8