Considering a road trip between Sydney and Melbourne via the Hume, well look no further. Because seriously, you didn’t think I was going to bypass our recent road trip did you? Other than being a fairly uneventful drive, it did feel ever so slightly like we were ‘travelling again’ and who knows when we’ll feel that again. So, while flying Australia’s busiest domestic route remains the fastest way to travel between the two cities, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to get there.
Those looking to throwback to another era might like to recreate the ‘overnight flight experience’ by opting to take the eleven hour train ride. Features include: a broken sleep while seated, weird smells and eating packaged food high in sodium. But, if you’ve got the time, and a sense of adventure, driving can be just as rewarding. (As flying that is…there’s not much that’s rewarding about the overnight train from my personal experience.)
Once you’ve decided to drive, the next question is: How much time do you have? If you have plenty (at least five), you could decide to go coastal and bunny hop between beach towns and berry orchids. Or, like us, (with just three days) you could opt for the rural route. That being: the most direct driving route via the Hume Highway.
Rest assured, it’s not as boring as it sounds (it’s certainly not a straight road for ten hours). The Hume Highway presents plenty of opportunities for exiting the freeway and before you know it, you’re surrounded by a country manor atop the lush rolling hills. Well… maybe not quite manor, but close enough. This route can be done in one day, but if you’re not in a rush, why bother? Who’s got time to rush these days?
Driving this route in winter provided luscious green vistas and lambs galore. I’d often find myself daydreaming out the window, gaze transfixed upon a petite ewe and her winsome young.
So, if you’re willing to travel via the Hume Highway (speed limit 110 km/hour), here’s a complete guide of where to stop, where to snack and where to sleep. Obviously you can also do this in reverse, but for the purposes of my fading memory, I’ll start in Sydney, so let’s go!
Day 1. NSW to ACT
Before you set off for the 878 km journey, here’s one important thing to consider. When you’re leaving Sydney, I highly recommend you thoroughly plan your departure time. Leave too early and you’ll get caught up with the tradies racing to site for 7am, leave too late and you’ll hit both school drop off and the rat race screeching into the office for 9am. For me, given the drive is only three and a half hours to Canberra, off peak is best, at like 11am or 2pm.
Where to stop
For the first stretch, the POI game is pretty slim. That’s points of interest FYI. Due to the extended city sprawl, simply the act of trying to get out of Sydney can be cause enough for a pit stop. But, once you get past Campbelltown, the traffic seems to suddenly disperse with only the committed travellers remaining.
Cricket fans out there? yeah, nor me. But if you are, the Bradman Museum in Bowral will tickle you pink.
Lastly, have you ever seen the Big Merino in Goulburn? It’s a sight to see.
Where to snack
For lunch, I can’t go past the country town of Bowral. While it’s perfectly possible to stop for a long lunch, we were after something a little snappier. We had lunch at RAW & WILD market and cafe, which was honestly so delicious. Their extensive menu and healthy food ethos (food is locally produced, organic, wild and sustainable) gave us just the right about of energy to push on to Canberra. (Note: technically we had driven from Newcastle, so this was a bit of a big day for us!)
If you’re not as pushed for time, check out Ludo – it looks GORGEOUS. Spend a good hour after lunch digesting by walking the streets and supporting those local businesses, for the love of god, they need it!
If Bowral is a bit of a bore for you, check out the Berkelouw Book Barn (their cafe menu should keep you going!) and pick up a great read while you’re there.
After lunch, if you’re still wanting another pit stop, I mean who can deny, that Big Merino is pretty cute, pop into Goulburn and refuel at The Roses Cafe. The scones with jam and cream are usually my go-to.
Where to sleep
Obviously, I highly recommend the Ovolo Nishi after our one night stay two weeks ago (I highly recommend you stay here two nights just to make the most of it.) This is arguably Australia’s most sustainable building, so even if you don’t stay, it’s definitely worth the sticky beak. Here’s my review of our stay.
Day 2. ACT to VIC
For a delectable breakfast, read the blog linked above before getting on the road. The slow road in and out of Canberra is a slog that’s short lived. From Canberra to Albury it’s another three and a half hour drive. We diverted inland to Cootamundra, which, while nostalgic for me, might not fill your boots. Especially when you don’t have the world’s best Grandma to hang out with when you get there.
Where to stop
Before leaving Canberra, why not take in the art, culture and history by visiting the Australian National Gallery or the National Museum of Australia? Sip on a delicious flat white on Lonsdale Street in Braddon? Or take in the enormous sculptures and eclectic architecture in the suburb of New Acton.
Once you’re back on the freeway, shortly after, you’ll pass Yass. Queer Eye fans, rejoice! Here’s the episode they filmed in Yass if you missed it.
Choosing to stop in Gundagai is a great choice, just to see the ‘Dog on the Tucker Box’ statue alone. You can also find the Big Koala nearby and the Gundagai wines cellar door.
People with rugrats or a penchant for trains might enjoy the Holbrook miniature railway. Adult people might enjoy the distillery at Tumut (Pretty Parrot.)
Where to snack
The Long Track Pantry in Jugiong or Barney’s of Bookham in Bookham (for burgers).
Where to sleep
Albury. Now, I’ll admit, I personally haven’t stayed here. However!
Staying in Albury, you’re also striking distance from the wine districts of Rutherglen and the King Valley.
Day 3. Arrive in Melbourne
The final stretch, just three and a half hours to go. My advice is to try not to leave Albury too late, because there is a LOT to see along the way to Melbourne. For starters, you’re about to cross the Murray River (Australia’s longest river, at 2,508 kilometres in length), so take it in.
Your first stop needs to be Beechworth. I’ll be the first to admit, I read Tom O’Toole’s book ‘Breadwinner’ back in 2008 and I was pretty impressed by the rags to riches story. By no means should you rush to the bakery, but then again, baked goods are awesome. The Provenance should be your first stop if you get here at lunch time (Warning: it’s exxy).
In Benalla, you’ve got the Benalla art gallery cafe.
Then in Avenel, you’ve got Fowles Wines and Bank Street Pizza
In Euroa, you’ve got Seven Creeks Hotel for a good, old fashioned, family run pub.
Before you know it, it’s back to speed cameras and tail lights. But, don’t feel too down about it. Melbourne. is. awesome. Can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Until then xo