Back in November 2007 we went on an Australian road trip with some work colleagues. Starting in Canberra, we did a 1,200 km loop through New South Wales over 3 days/2 nights.
The classic way to leave Canberra is to head north and west on the Hume Highway in a loop to the first natural stopping point of Gundagai, about 2 hours or 160km away. Just north of the town is a statue of the Dog on the Tucker Box whose inspiration comes from a 19th century Australian poem called Bullocky Bill. One feature of the Australian bush is the flies. And the statue had plenty. We had coffee and a danish with our flies.
Just before lunch we stopped at the town of Holbrook, another hour or 115km further on the Hume – now heading southwest. The main notable point about Holbrook is that it has a real submarine on display by the side of the road, an object that was acquired by the town to honor the town’s namesake Lt Holbrook.
We had lunch by a lake as we passed through Albury/Wodonga on the New South Wales/Victoria border, a further 60km or 45 mins away. We set up a picnic and the ducks were very keen to see what we were doing.
Our next stop for the day was Yackandandah, half an hour (30 km) south. It’s a small town with a few antique shops that we got very absorbed in, nearly deciding to buy an antique pedal organ. Luckily we managed to resist.
We spent the night at nearby Beechworth, a gold rush town. For tourists, it’s famous for its spectacular Beechworth Bakery which has a wide range of imaginative cakes and pastries. We stayed the night in what was La Trobe University’s hotel school (closed in 2011 according to this history) at the Mayday Hills Asylum.
The next morning we had breakfast at the bakery, then for reasons that escape me now, we visited the Beechworth Cemetery. The cemetery is a historic place with several different parts to it including a Strangers’ Area, a Pioneers’ burial area, and a Chinese section with two Chinese burning towers. Memorialized here is Jean Macnamara, a doctor who worked on children’s health, including working on the disease polio.
Half an hour (30 km) west of Beechworth we stopped at another unusual spot – the Eldorado Dredge. This huge and highly complicated piece of machinery was used to dredge 30 million cubic meters of the El Dorado plains in the production of gold and tin.
We continued west then and headed north for about 30 mins (50 km) towards Campbells Wines on the outskirts of Rutherglen, a famous wine town/area. We did some wine-tasting, then went 5 minutes further on to the next winery, called Pfifers, for a picnic lunch on the bridge over Sunday Creek. The food was excellent and the view over the creek was calming and beautiful.
After lunch we headed west to the small town of Echuca – 190km or 2 hours away. Echuca is also on the Murray River and has a thriving industry of river cruises by paddle steamer. We stayed the night here and according to my diary in the evening we had a big cooking session and a long game of trivial pursuit.
The next morning we went on the Emmy Lou paddle steamer for a short cruise. It was wonderful to experience the mighty Murray from a boat. The engine room of the paddle steamer was impressive too. Then we checked out the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre – and visited the blacksmiths shop nearby where we got a 3-D puzzle. The afternoon was spent wine tasting, where we discovered white Port, followed by napping.
Later on “we” decided to go for a swim in the river. I remember it being brown and very muddy underfoot, but thankfully it wasn’t cold. We had a big dinner of pizza and wine to celebrate our trip.
The next morning we tackled the 6 hours/ 600 km trip east back to Canberra. We stopped for morning tea at what I assume was Jerilderie, where they had a small Ned Kelly museum. Then home via Lockhart for lunch and Gundagai for a stretch of the legs.
When we got back home, I discovered that my car, which had been parked in the driveway over the weekend, had been paint-bombed with white paint… so that was fun!
This was a great trip for us to discover more of Australia than just the big cities. A few years later we did parts of this road trip again with my mum!