Forte’s Guide to Echuca-Moama Winter Blues Festival

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Forte’s Guide to Echuca-Moama Winter Blues Festival

While it may seem like festival season doesn’t kick in until the warmer months, there’s something about winter that seems so fitting for bunkering down, grabbing a glass of wine and listening to blues music.

The Echuca-Moama Winter Blues Festival has been going for more than a decade, and still stands as one of the best blues festivals this side of the border. For those in Forte territory who are yet to experience the wonder that is the Winter Blues Festival, we’ve put together a little bit of a guide for you.

Getting There

There are a few options to take on your travels to Echuca. For those inclined, a roadtrip is an essential part of the experience. And as a rough 2.5 hour trip from Geelong, it’s quite a scenic country route of regional Victoria. Be sure to stop off in Heathcote and sample some of the great wineries. For those in regional Victoria, V/Line is both a convenience and inconvenience. A bus service and train runs through V/Line from various town centres. Visit the website to find out your best stop ( ). Lastly, while flying may seem like the best option, the closest airport is Tullamarine in Melbourne, so seeking out one of the above transport methods is still needed. And really, flying is only great for those interstate.

Where to Eat, Stay and Play

Pat a donkey. You heard right, the river-town is about much more than just blues music and paddlesteamers. At Tongala Donkey Shelter more than 350 orphaned, neglected and surrendered donkeys are taken care of that you can give a bit of TLC of your own.

Indulge your sweet tooth. Stop for a quick pick-me-up in between sets and grab some old-time faves at this authentic lolly shop. Often heralded as the grandest lolly shop in Australia, chances are if it’s sugary or chocolate coated and you’ve eaten it, they’ve got it.

Act like an American. The American Hotel is the oldest pub in Echuca-Moama, and has recently opened again after significant refurbishments. Located 200 metres from the historic port of the river, the hotel has plenty of seating options to soak in the view.

Ride the river. It’s not a visit to Echuca-Moama and the Murray River if you don’t get yourself on one of the old paddlesteamers. There are several options to choose from, with some boats that are significantly refurbished and others more authentic. Lunch and dinner can also be booked on the boats. Our pick is the Emmylou, which is a charmer of a boat!

Who to See

With so many performers lined up for the festival (we counted 43) across 24 stages and three days, it may seem a little overwhelming to decide on who to see. While the festival is set up so you can sample many of the acts across the venues, we’ve picked a few performers who offer something a bit different to the bill:

The Piano Wizard: Wizard’s in his name and he’s certainly a master of the keys. If anything, the Piano Wizard is such a novelty to see that your weekend will be considerably improved having done so.

Safari Motel: With this band comes a high-energy set and a unique blend of blues, soul, funk and seriously good groves. There’s even a bit of hip hop thrown into the mix for a seriously good time.

Pugsley Buzzard: A genius in his own right, Pugsley brings things back to the New Orleans, deep-South blues style. He’s often heralded as one of the most unique voices in the Australian blues scene, and having played from Berlin to New Orleans has definitely strengthened that.

Top Tips

Most importantly, the festival is about exploring the town and immersing yourself in Echuca as much as into blues music.

We’ve heard there’s a bit of algae in the river, so you may want to reconsider that midnight skinny dip!

For more information and to see the a program guide, visit the website:

When & Where: Various locations, Echuca – July 28-31