You can drive from Sydney to Melbourne (or vice-versa) in eight hours with a couple of drivers and take-away snacks, but by doing that you waste an opportunity to explore some special parts of Australia. It’s a far better idea to take two or three days (or more!). Going via the national capital can be rewarding (staying at Rydges Capital Hill of course!) but for this exercise we are going stay close to the Hume Highway with an overnight at Rydges Albury en route.
It will take less than five hours driving time from Sydney to Albury, so allowing for a ten hour day will give some good exploring time options. About an hour from Sydney you arrive in the pretty Southern Highlands.
Mittagong has interesting shop front architecture and interesting antique shops. Nearby Wombeyan Caves has a really extensive and complex cave system. Bowral has historic streetscapes and lovely gardens (many open to the public during Tulip Time in September and October). There’s also the excellent Don Bradman Museum. For those who like art, craft and tearooms, Berrima is rewarding. It’s Australia’s best-preserved Georgian settlement (1830’s) and has an historic gaol, courthouse (right) and one of Australia’s oldest pubs.
Goulburn is a nice, large town. The court house is a good example of fine colonial architecture and the park opposite a peaceful spot to stretch the legs. You can drop in on the highway’s namesake, Hamilton Hume, in Yass Cemetery. A really nice spot for lunch is Café Dolcetto in the main street – excellent food, service and atmosphere. A little further along the Hume you can take the very short detour into Bowning for the charming Rollonin Café. It is a lovely wattle and daub style hut with a good snack menu and some friendly animals at the bottom of the yard.
After Bowning you can bypass or pass through Bookham and Jugiong (you can see by the size of some of the huge boulders why bushrangers found it a good spot to hide and wait for the Cobb & Co coaches). Before long you pass the famous Dog on the Tuckerbox, which sits five miles (9km) from Gundagai.You can see in the photo how close the town is the the highway bypass.
Leaving the freeway to head into Gundagai you will see the cemetery to the left – if you go through the entrance to the left of the stone-walled section you will come across two graves, side by side, belonging to Sergeant Parry, who was shot and killed by the bushranger Gilbert, the other to Senior Constable Webb-Bowen who was killed by Captain Moonlight. A little further up the grassy slope, under a tree you wioll find Andrew George Scott – aka Captain Moonlight. In town there’s the old gaol and courthouse that saw the beginning of the end for Moonlight.
Frank Rusconi sculptured the famous Dog on the Tuckerbox and the war memorial in the main street and cemetery headstones were his bread and butter. His crowning glory is his Marble Masterpiece on display in town, in the Visitor Information Centre next to Carberry Park. There’s also an eclectic museum, rare, old photographs in the Gabriel Gallery (above the hardware store). There is the railway station dating back to 1886 and heritage listed bridges from 1867 spanning the flat above where the original town was swept away in the flood of 1852. A good spot for coffee, snack or milkshake is the Niagara Café in the main street – lots of history on the walls and in the décor.
Heading south from Gundagai, you pass through Holbrook which, curiously, has a huge submarine sitting in a park in the main street. Worth the stop to investigate further! There are two bakeries in Holbrook, both offering excellent home-made pies.
Albury is on the Murray River and the NSW/Victorian border and is home to Lake Hume. Rydges Albury Hotel in Dean Street is a good spot to stop for the night or for a couple of nights if you want to explore the wineries/region. It’s a comfy, welcoming hotel with a pool, bar and excellent restaurant, Fresco’s.
Header photo by Bidgee