Finding somewhere to launch your boat on the Murray River in Sunraysia isn’t a problem, with more than 20 boat ramps dotted along the river in a variety of handy locations.
The amenities at each vary enormously, with NSW leading the way when it comes to amenities, signage and car parking space.
Wentworth boasts five boat launching sites located in close proximity to each other – near Lock 10 and a short distance below the weir – to accommodate peak demand during the warmer weather.
A famous location for fishing and camping, Fort Courage Caravan Park, which is situated on the Murray River off the old Renmark Road, 20km north from Wentworth, has an excellent concrete boat ramp for visitors and guests to the park to utilise.
On the Victorian side, a popular location for recreational water activities is Lake Cullulleraine – located less than an hour’s drive from Mildura on the Sturt Highway.
Whether it’s fishing, canoeing, sail boating or water skiing, a boat ramp suitable for launching recreational boats is available.
There are two other ramps located outside of the Wentworth area, one being just off the Silver City Highway in Curlwaa, the other in Kookaburra Drive, Dareton.
Travelling upstream from Curlwaa, the next boat ramp on the Murray is located near Merbein, and can be accessed from the River Road.
Continue onto Mildura, and Apex Park comes into view offering another concrete boat ramp with easy access and plenty of parking space and other amenities.
Located near the Chaffey Bridge in Mildura, and a stone’s throw from the Mildura Marina, is a popular ramp for locals looking for a convenient, close to town boat ramp to launch their speed boat or fishing runabout.
The Gol Gol area offers a newly upgraded boat ramp at James King Park, and there is also a canoe-launching facility located at the park as well.
The contrast between amenities at the boat ramp sites is in some cases stark.
Mildura’s boat ramp near the Chaffey Bridge and the River Road Merbein ramps being two examples.
Compared to Gol Gol’s James King Park and the Curlwaa boat ramp, they are certainly the poor cousins.
These particular facilities basically only provide access to launch a boat and nothing else.
The nearest toilets near the Chaffey Bridge ramp for example, are a long walk to Nowingi Place, Merbein doesn’t offer that option. Safety and information signage is also scant in comparison to the NSW located ramps.
A spokesperson for Mildura Rural City Council said that council maintains approximately 10 boat ramps throughout the Mildura Rural City Council area, including the ramp under the George Chaffey Bridge and at Merbein.
“Maintenance works to these ramps are performed as required and any upgrade works are prioritised in consideration with other infrastructure upgrade projects,” the spokesperson said.
“Council installed a new upgraded ramp at the Merbein site in 2016 through a Victorian Government grant, which allowed for three boats to use the ramp at the same time, helping to ease congestion.
“In addition to the boat ramps maintained by Council, there are about 12 additional boat ramps in our municipality which are maintained by other organisations and agencies.”
There is no doubt that the state that owns the Murray River has been able to invest more in the asset to advantage boat owners.
The Curlwaa boat ramp upgrade received $291,673.76 from the NSW ‘Boating Now Fund’ in February 2020, with Wentworth Shire Council’s contribution $91,139.24 to the $382,813.00 project.
The Gol Gol, James King Park boat ramp upgrade was also funded under the Boating Now Fund in 2016/17. Of the $600,000 project cost $225,000 was allocated under Boating Now with Council contributing $375,000.
The Dareton Boat Ramp upgrade was also funded at the same time with $225,000 from Boating Now and $25,000 from Council.