There are some fantastic, but also quite unusual, things to do in Mildura. From visiting a gem shop with its own custom cave, to taking a land-train through an orange field (driven by a comedian!), seeing the weirdest vehicle in Victoria to a dry botanic gardens. The extremes of Victoria get a little weird!
Having arrived from the UK back in 2019 and battled with endless lockdowns, it was one of only a few areas of the state we hadn’t made it to yet.
And we were here with a purpose. Knock off UNESCO site number 37 and chill-the-fuck out after an intense year in my day job.
But chilling out in my world also means covering some ground and taking my mind off real-world problems by immersing myself in travel.
So here we were.
Mildura, let’s see these fun but unusual things you’ve got to offer!
Unusual Things To Do in Mildura: Quick List
If you don’t want to read the whole article – here’s a quick list of the unusual things to see and do in Mildura for you to scan:
*’?’ means we didn’t visit
1) Mungo National Park
Stunning UNESCO Heritage Site about two hours from Mildura, best visited with a tour guide.
2) Woodsies Gem Shop
One of the most unusual things to do in Mildura, this family-run shop is filled with precious gems, a cafe, play area and a cave museum.
3) Orange World
Better than it sounds! Learn about oranges on a tour with Mildura’s funniest man.
4) Trentham Estate Winery
A touch of luxury on the banks of the Murray.
5) Old Wentworth Gaol
A surprisingly accessible build with lots to explore.
6) Red Cliffs Lookout
A gorgeous natural lookout over the Murray River.
7) Rio Vista Historic House
Period home, which houses the store of the founders of Mildura as well as local artwork
8) Big Lizzie
Once seen, never forgotten – a unique curiosity of Victorian farming.
9) Ye Olde Lolly Shoppe
A treasure trove of goodies in a shop packed to the rafters.
10) SRS Benetook Farm
An up-close farm experience with kids’ play area
11) Mildura Tourist Information Centre
Amazing displays, local crafts and lots of information (as you’d expect!) in a modern building.
12) Mildura’s Oldest Bakery
Pick up a treat at Coward’s Cake – Mildura’s oldest bakery.
13) Australian Inland Botanic Garden
A dry-inland botanic garden with a mix of plant and birdlife.
?) Mildura Holden Museum
One man’s passion for collecting sees this group of 30 Holdens in one place.
?) Red Cliffs Historical Steam Railway
Only runs the first Sunday of the month, but looks like a lot of fun when it does.
?) Perry Sandhills
Natural sand dunes just outside of Wentworth, which are one of the highlights of the area.
?) Riverboat/Paddle Steamer Trip
Due to the flooding, we didn’t get to do this, but one of the most iconic things to do on a Mildura trip.
?) Junction Island Wentworth
The meeting place of two great Australian rivers – the Murray and the Darling.
?) P.S. Ruby and Statue of Possum
See an iconic paddle steamer up close and the statue of a local legend.
?) Pioneer Museum Wentworth
A small local museum, with some well-curated displays.
?) Fossey’s Gin Distillery
Just off the main street in Mildura, head here for lunch or a gin-tasting board.
Mungo National Park
I am a UNESCO Heritage Site fanatic, and the Willandra Lakes Region was on my list to be number 65. It wasn’t looking good for a while, with the dirt roads that make up about 70 km of the trip to Mungo National Park closed due to flooding, but they opened on the last day before we left, so I managed to get there.
It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, somewhere between a USA desert national park and a beach. For reasons that are too long to mention in this post, one side of Mungo has built up large amounts of silt and sand from the bottom of the lakes that dried out 40,000 years ago and now forms huge dunes which are known as the ‘Walls of China’ named by Chinese immigrants in the gold rush era.
You can get to Mungo National Park yourself (though some of the roads are hairy) but you’re not actually allowed on the dunes without an accredited guide. Your best bet is to book a tour which is around $175, it’s well worth it otherwise you’ll be stood at a fence, looking at the best bit of the National Park but unable to go in.
I went with Discover Mildura joining a group of eight people. They picked me up at 0800 and dropped me back off at 1700 with all the food and park fees provided and the fantastic Phil to keep the journey interesting.
Top of the list without a doubt, Mungo National Park was my main reason for visiting Mildura and didn’t disappoint at all.
OPENING HOURS: 24hrs
COST: $175 for the Tour
Woodsies Gem Shop
Part museum, part shop, part café, part cave – we walked in not knowing really what to expect and walked out not really knowing what we’d seen!
A family-run Mildura institution, Woodsies Gem shop not only has a huge array of stones and gems on sale but also (for a very small fee) entry to a cave-cum-museum where the family have displays of all the gems they’ve collected from around the world.
Keep an eye out for an old guy who looks like he wants to help, this is Doug who is the owner who (according to the lady behind the register) will ‘give tours whether you want them or not!’. Grab some time with him to learn loads more.
On top of this, there is a great children’s play area out the back, a cafe stocked with homemade food and even a maze.
Just take my word for it and go visit. Of the unusual things to do in Mildura, this has to be the most memorable.
OPENING HOURS: 0900-1700 daily
COST: Free, but $2 for adults and $1 for kids to enter the museum ‘cave’ or maze.
You’ve definitely heard of Disney World, maybe heard of Monkey World and might even be hoping for a Jurassic World, but until then, let me present to you – Orange World.
It sounds crap, looks a bit crap from the outside but turns out to be bloody brilliant – owing nearly all of this to the comedic talents of the owner, Mario.
We took the big orange train ride, which could easily be confused for an Edinburgh Festival gig, owing to Mario’s perfectly rehearsed and executed set list. We learned more than I’ll ever remember about oranges, got shown how to use an orange peeler (pretty handy actually), got given some free avos and had a fantastic time.
For the first stop off of the trip, this one was going to be hard to beat. If you’re in the area, go, it honestly is one of the best places to visit in Mildura! It’s been a tough few years for farmers with bushfires, droughts and flooding so they need every cent you can spend on them, and this guy earns his money.
OPENING HOURS: Mon-Sun 0900-1700 with trains running at 1030/1130/1430
COST: $10 per person, with small kiddies free
Trentham Estate Winery
I’ll be honest with you, I used to find wineries intimidating – assuming they would be manned by snobs who’d make the Friday-night wine drinkers like us feel out-of-place.
We plucked up the courage to go on our first set of winery tours in Cape Town a few years ago and that gave us the confidence to keep going. When it comes to Trentham Estate Winery I’m glad we did.
I wish I’d taken the name of the lady who served us, but she was wonderful and made us feel very comfortable as we sipped through the taster menu, before heading outside to enjoy a platter with a glass of wine overlooking the bursting banks of the Murray River with a playlist of Damien Rice, James Bay and Ray LaMontagne really gaining them extra points with me!
She even brought out a colouring set for our little one, (though she spent more time feeding the Blue-Faced Honeyeaters, another treat to see) definitely a family-friendly place.
And my last reason to feel intimidated was price, but we did the wine tasting, had a platter between us, an orange juice and a glass of wine with food all for only $54. Wow!
HOURS: Cellar door 1000-1700 daily, restaurant for lunch 1100-1445 Wed to Sun
COST: It depends on what you choose, but we paid $54
Old Wentworth Gaol
Old – yes, boring, no.
If this place were in the UK it would be almost entirely behind velvet ropes, but at the Old Wentworth Gaol, you’re allowed just to potter around as you see fit.
It helped that there was the friendliest guy manning the desk (who was worried about his property flooding that day but had still come to work!) who set the visit up perfectly.
There were lots of places to look around including the master’s cottage, the kitchens, the courtyard and of course, the cells. In each room was information about it but what we liked was the other displays – from a collection of old photos of police buildings and tales of the Kelly Gang to information about a local nomad called Possum.
The highlight for me was being able to lock both my wife AND daughter in a cell of the woman’s block – dream come true! (only kidding Mrs SG!).
OPENING HOURS: 1000-1600 Mon-Wed, 1000-1400 Weekends
COST: $8 per person, with small kiddies free
If you’re interested in the Kelly Gang we saw lots of information about them on our trip to the Victorian High Country
Red Cliffs Lookout
After thirty years of adventures, I’ve built a seventh sense for travel so, when we drove through a town called Red Cliffs, I had a hunch there may be some red cliffs nearby.
I wasn’t wrong.
But thankfully, you too can visit this place without having to work off clues alone, just type ‘Red Cliffs Lookout’ into Google and (after a 100m walk) you’ll get to see the view above.
There is also meant to be a boardwalk with even better views at the nearby Red Cliffs Scenic reserve, but it was closed – we’re not sure if this is related to the recent flooding, or just general disrepair as there are lots of articles on the web suggesting this is the case.
Overall Red Cliffs Lookout is a beautiful place, but in a pretty bad state (something which is echoed if you read recent Tripadvisor reviews), with the actual lookout making it very difficult to see the cliffs (I’ll be honest with you, I slid through a wire fence to get a bit closer, and judging by the bend in the wires, I wasn’t the first). I have no idea why they’d want to hide away these stunning views which could draw some tourists into the town, but they had a good go at it.
OPENING HOURS: 24 hours
Rio Vista Historic House/Mildura Arts Centre
Up near the banks of the Murray, this beautiful old house was owned by the Chaffey family who founded and shaped Mildura (quite literally – as they built the channels to pump water from the river, and you’ll also see the influence of their American roots on the town layout – First Street, Second Street etc).
The house has now been turned into an art gallery, but also tells the story of the Chaffeys. It reminded me of a National Trust building back in the UK and was well worth a visit.
OPENING HOURS: 1000 – 1600 daily
Big Lizzie is a huge ‘tractor’ that sits in the middle of Red Cliffs which made an incredible journey up from Melbourne in the early 1900s.
She’s worth a visit if you’re up in Mildura to read the history of this colossal machine and her work around Victoria.
You won’t be here more than ten minutes and it’s not really a destination, more something you’ll pop to on the way to somewhere else. Combine with a trip to Red Cliffs lookout and then stop at the lovely Mildura Farms Cafe which is a two-minute walk and served some unusual and fantastic food (homemade baked beans with a toast anyone!?)
OPENING HOURS: 24 hours
Read More: My full post about Big Lizzie is here: Big Lizzie, a Colossal Victorian Curiosity
Ye Olde Lolly Shoppe
This was one Becca came up with when we were searching for another chocolate shop in Mildura.
Hidden away on a residential street, it’s easy to drive past, but don’t!
Not only is there a huge selection of chocolate, candy and biscuits but they even had the Van Holtens pickles that went viral on TikTok recently, an unusual find.
It’s such a cool little shop, the inside is something you might find on the fictional Diagon Alley – with stock piled floor to ceiling, a powered toy train running near the ceiling and a Father Christmas riding a high wire (yes, really!).
OPENING HOURS: 1130-1800 most days, 1200-1800 Sunday and a 1900 close on Friday and Saturday
COST: Free, and the stock was reasonably priced
SRS Benetook Farm
A cool little farm on the outskirts of Mildura, with a big playpark, chickens, a maze, putt-putt and some bikes to ride around the tracks on.
Our little girl had a great time here playing on the big ‘bouncy pillow’ and joyriding the foot-powered cars around the lawn. It’s a great place for your kids to let off some steam.
What makes SRS Benetook Farm particularly special is its purpose. The SRS stands for Sunraysia Residential Services, a not-for-profit that provides disability support, with the farm a place that provides opportunities for people with disabilities to learn and socialise.
OPENING HOURS: 0900-1600 daily
COST: Free (though gold coin donations are encouraged)
Mildura Tourist Information Centre
Yes, I’ve really put the tourist information centre on a ‘best things to do in Mildura’ list.
Go with me here.
These places are normally fairly bland, leaflet-filled affairs, but not in Mildura. Light, modern and packed with lots of engaging displays about the local area, including a room with a big animated touch-wall of animals and places that our little girl loved. It also had stock from all the local Mildura suppliers, so a perfect place to pick up gifts.
Attached to it is also the fantastic Mildura swimming pool (complete with indoor wave machine) which kept our little one busy on a rainy day.
Honestly, go and have a look around, you won’t be disappointed and at the very least you’ll discover some things to do in the area you weren’t expecting.
OPENING HOURS: 0900-1730 weekdays, 0900-1700 weekends
Mildura’s Oldest Bakery
Coward’s Cakes has been going since 1919, so they must be doing something right.
It’s low down the list more because it’s such a small destination than the quality of its cakes, we really enjoyed tucking into apple cake (a new one on me) and an amazing Cherry Ripe slice. It was packed, which should tell you everything you need to know and I’m gutted we’d already had lunch because the meat pies looked incredible.
Australian Inland Botanic Gardens
Botanic gardens are our kind of place, and we love to visit them, but something about the Australian Botanic Gardens just didn’t gel with us.
It got good reviews (better than Orange World, who’d have thunk it?) but it was pretty average. Nice gardens, not like any other botanic gardens we’ve seen (and we’ve been to them from big cities like Cape Town to small places like Port Fairy) owing to the fact they were in an arid environment.
I feel bad being a critic, as it’s a community-led project and they are well kept, have AMAZING carrot cake in the restaurant and a cracking kid’s play area that felt like an enchanted forest but they were not desperately exciting – well for us non-gardening types anyway. The Rose Garden looked pretty special, but we arrived a few weeks too late.
Head over, see it for yourself and criticise me hard in the comments if I got this one wrong, but not somewhere we’ll be heading again.
OPENING HOURS: Mon-Fri 0800-1600, Weekends 1000-1600
Things To Do in Mildura That We Didn’t Get To
We visited Mildura at a time of some of the worst flooding in 50 years, so we struggled to do everything that was on the list we’d built.
As ever on this site, I’d never pretend to visit somewhere we haven’t – so here are some places that were on our list but we didn’t make it to, on which you can do your own research (and come back and tell us how they were in the comments.
Mildura Holden Museum
I’m not going to lie, this wasn’t because of flooding, it’s just not our kind of thing.
However, if it is yours, then it looks terrific! The reviews are fantastic with over 30 Holdens to check out, the results of one man’s collecting passion.
It is just over the Murray in NSW, which makes it a great combination with the Botanic Gardens, Orange World or a trip out to Trentham Winery.
Red Cliffs Historical Steam Railway
This looked so cool and our daughter would have loved it, but unfortunately, our timing wasn’t quite right as it only runs on the first Sunday of each month.
Visit their website at RedCliffsHistoricalRailway.org before your visit to see the next running of the train and timings on the day, but it looks like a great value, fun day out.
This was the most gutting thing we missed out on from the trip. We visited a similar Sandhills on Kangaroo Island back in February of this year (called Little Sahara) so we were looking forward to hiring some sleds and making our way down Perry Sandhills.
We attempted to visit twice in the week we were up, but both times the road was closed for roadworks without prior warning, very frustrating.
If you want to hire out boards, beware that you need to go to Intersports in Mildura, they are not available for hire at Perry Sandhills.
Riverboat/Paddle ‘Steamer’ Trip
With the river at its highest levels for 50 years and most of the boats now floating above what would usually be car parks, there was no chance at all to get out on the river in Mildura.
Paddle steamers were the first thing that came to mind when I thought of Mildura – well that and oranges – so to not be able to complete such an iconic part of the trip was a shame, but given what some of the community were dealing with up here at the moment, it’s a minor inconvenience.
When we come back it will be top of our list.
Junction Island Wentworth
This is the meeting place of the Murray and Darling rivers and you can stand with one on each side of you.
A beautiful spot (according to our tour guide) but an inaccessible one when we visited due to the flooding.
P.S. Ruby and Statue of Possum
The PS here stands for paddle steamer but the main reason we came past was to see the statue of Possum, a local man who became almost folklore, whom we read about at the Old Wentworth Gaol.
Possum (so-called because he was often seen living in trees) decided normal life was too tough after the Great Depression and headed off into the bush around Wentworth, where he spent 50 years avoiding human contact and living off of the land.
Today he had a rather different set of challenges, you can see him almost up to his eyeballs in water on the left of the photo above! A kind passer-by had put a lifejacket on him just in case!
Pioneer Museum Wentworth
This place is right opposite the Wentworth Old Gaol. We saw it, but it looked a little old-fashioned from the outside so we didn’t decide to go in, which (after reading some reviews online) we later regretted. There are some great displays inside, especially of some of the megafauna creatures that once roamed the area.
Fossey’s Gin Distillery
Situated just off the main strip in Mildura, Fossey’s Gin Boutique is open for tours, food or just a tasting paddle at their gin and whiskey bar. Unfortunately, we went on a day they were closed because their hot cross bun gin was definitely of interest.
N.B. This kind of article is meant to be fun and completely subjective. My ‘best’ might be your ‘worst’ depending on everything from our travel styles to our experiences on the day. Just know that unlike other websites (I’m looking at your The Crazy Tourist) we actually visited these places and can form an opinion. As ever – read from lots of sources and come to your own conclusions. Oh, and feel free to bash me in the comments if I’m ‘subjectively’ wrong!
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