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Nestled on the banks of the Murray River in the heart of Victoria's food bowl, Swan Hill serves up no end of boating and fishing opportunities, fine food and wine, plus the chance to learn all about pioneer history. Swan Hill was named by European explorer Major Thomas Mitchell, who visited in 1836. Since then, fortunes have been made here; first by the early squatters and later by the farmers whose crops thrived thanks to irrigation from the river. Today you can explore original residences or or get a glimpse of what life was like for the pioneers at The Pioneer Settlement, a recreated port town of the paddle steamer era and Australia's first open-air museum. Swan Hill is also the perfect place to experience some of the most unspoilt and rugged sections of the Murray River as it winds its way through a 10-kilometre section of state park land. Explore the river on the 105-year-old paddle steamer, Pyap. Alternatively you can take an overnight trip on a houseboat and explore the river at your own pace. Nearby Lake Boga is a delightful spot to enjoy a range of water sports from parasailing and waterskiing to sailing and swimming, and Nyah Vinifera State Forest is great for bushwalking. The Swan Hill wine region has gained notoriety for its easy drinking red and white table wines. Visit local cellar doors and farm gates to sample the distinctive flavours of the region. Popular local events include the Swan Hill Region Food & Wine Festival in March and the Australian Inland Wine Show in October. Swan Hill is 344 kilometres north-west of Melbourne or about three-and-a-half hours from Melbourne on the Murray Valley Highway.