Imagine, on a quiet stroll down the Main Street of Koondrook cast your thoughts back one hundred years and imagine the Titania Steam Locomotive chugging along the railway line towing a load of freshly cut redgum from the Arbuthnot Mill and some livestock that had come across the river on the punt from New South Wales. Or it may have been a special trip on a Saturday to convey cricketers and their supporters to a match in Kerang.
Down at the wharf a paddlesteamer has just pulled in with a load of wheat it has freighted from further up the river to be unloaded into the goods shed and then later taken into Kerang by tram.
Several travellers are heading down the dusty street to the Royal Hotel to quench their thirst while their boat is being unloaded and then reloaded with tons of flour and bags of bran from the Koondrook Junction Mill to be taken downstream to Wentworth the next day.
The sound of a steam whistle pierces the air. Another paddlesteamer twing barges with redgum logs lashed to the outriggers excites the local school children as the rush to the side fence to watch it pass on its way to the mill. Just along from the school a paddleboat is under construction on the banks of the river. Redgum planks are being steamed, so that they can take shape on the hull. Further down the river the pumping plant is in operation pumping water into the channel to supply farm needs. There is a butcher, baker, general store, plus the Baptist, Anglican and Catholic churches. What a busy little town....
Set among the ancient redgum forests, today Koondrook is a popular tourist destination and offers visitors a unique insight into life on the Murry in bygone years.
Let your imagination take you back 100 years, you will almost be able to hear the clip clop of the horses moving down the streets, the whistles of paddlesteamers on the river and the relentless activity on the old wharf.
The foundation of the bustling river port and saw-milling town was Arbuthnot Sawmill which continues to operate as a redgum timber mill today. The full milling operation can be viewed by visitors and the aid of a specially designed walkway.
Koondrook is also the gateway to the northern end of Gunbower Island - the largest inland island in the world. Gunbower Island is a popular destination for campers and day visitors as well as supplying timber for the local mills.
The biodiversity of Gunbower Island and the natural beauty of the area is something to behold. An abundance of waterbirds, wildlife and aquatic plants and animals await those who watch quietly. Gunbower Island also boasts a canoe trail around the wetlands of Safe's Lagoon.
While in the area allow the time to take a relaxed drive north along the river and experience even more of Victoria's pioneering past.
Murrabit is 25km from Koondrook via the Koondrook-Murrabit Road. The township of Murrabit was extablished as a railway station on the Kerang-story Crossing Border Railway in 1925. The existience of the railway station made this an obvious place for shops and houses to cluster. The town was built two miles from the river, a stipulation set by the New South Wales Government as a condition of collaboration with the Border Railway Scheme.
Plan to be in Murrabit on the first Saturday morning of each month to experience the Murrabit Country Market - the largest regional market in Victoria. Fresh fruit and vegetables, plants, clothing, and hardware are some of the goods available from the 300 odd stalls each month. Additional markets are held on Easter Saturday and the third Saturday of December.
Bring your tent or caravan and enjoy the great outdoors at any number of peaceful camping location along the river or in the Benwell and Gutterum Forests upstream.