Driving from Melbourne to Sydney takes about nine hours. Assuming you don’t stop anywhere. Three and a half hours after you leave Melbourne you will reach the small town of Wodonga. Above the sun glistening Murray River lies the slightly larger neighbouring town of Albury. They are called twin cities. But despite their physical proximity, they belong to two separate states. Albury belongs to New South Wales while Wodonga belongs to Victoria. And for many years they have not been much more than just another place for truckers to stop during their journeys between the big cities. Somewhere the truck drivers can rest their heads after a tiring day behind the wheel. Or a place to stop for a short lunch and to stretch the legs. But there are reasons to stay here for more than one night. Make your stop into a voyage of discovery instead.
The area invites you to physical activity in all its forms. Something you might be starved on after a long trip. Why not take advantage of the proximity to Murray River. Take a dip in the river at Noreuil Park, lined with large bushy trees. Float in the water or swim some lengths back and forth. Share a canoe with a friend and paddle for a distance. You can also let your legs work along cycling- and jogging trails. Take the challenge and tackle parts of the High Country Rail Trail. By bike, you can pedal from Wodonga to Tallangatta during a day trip. A large part of the road is either gravel or asphalt. And in the meantime, you get a magnificent view of Lake Hume. After you run out of energy, fill up on culture at Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) in the centre of Albury. There are many exhibitions and works of art to feast your eyes on. On the other side of the river you can visit The Army Museum Bandiana near Wodonga. They have a variety of preserved artefacts from both World Wars. Finish off with a fine dinner at the area’s best restaurant, Miss Amelie. During autumn, do not miss the horse race Albury Gold Cup, a big favourite among the locals, which is held in March each year. The race creates a festive atmosphere that lasts for several days and everyone gets an excuse to dress up and gather with friends, old and new. From Albury and Wodonga, you can head east to national parks, the Snowy Mountains and the capital of Canberra.
Sights and experiences
The biggest event for the local sport community is the annual competition Albury Gold Cup (alburyracing.com.au). The horse racing is held over two days in March. This is the time when people dress up to their teeth with eyes fixed on the track, cheering while the champagne is flowing. A whole 18,000 people are estimated to visit the immensely popular competition. Come along, bring your fighters spirit and cheer on the contestants and you will fit in perfectly. But most important of all – do not forget to put on your finest clothes.
The region around Albury and Wodonga is well suited for cycling adventures. There is an extensive network of trails near the centre, but for the more adventurous type, try the nature reserve at Nail Can Hill northwest of Albury (alburywodongamtb.org.au/our-trails). The easiest way is to get in via Range Road. For a similar challenge in Wodonga, test your legs at Hunchback Hill (trailforks.com/region/hunchback-hill-mtb-park/map). A walking path shared with cyclists runs along the river. But the best part – this place is an excellent spot for taking a dip in the river. Change to swimwear, buy or rent some inflatable floaties and bob along in the Murray. When you’re done, try the River Deck Café (riverdeckcafe.com.au) located a short distance away at 48 Noreuil Parade. If you want to take the bicycle for a longer ride without having to bring your backpack, you can join in on an arranged tour (wotif.com/things-to-do/3-day-guided-murray-to-mountains-rail-trail-food-wine-cycling-tour.a426224.activity-details).
A beautifully designed art museum opened up in Albury’s city centre in 2015, called MAMA (mamalbury.com.au). It’s big, free and informative. Here are sculptures, paintings and photographs to discover. A café is also available on site. Another type of art can be enjoyed outdoors. Eleven works of art with links to the indigenous culture have been placed along the Murray River. The promenade has come to be called Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk (visitalburywodonga.com/attraction/wagirra-trail-and-yindyamarra-sculpture-walk). Download the app to get a deeper understanding of the Aboriginal culture in the area. The sculpture walk stretches over five kilometres and runs between Kremur Street and Wonga Wetlands. Lace up your comfortable shoes and combine art with physical activity.
Go on foot or drive up to the top of the hill to see the Monument Hill War Memorial at Dean Street. The monument was created to commemorate those who lost their lives during the wars. From up here you get a nice view over the area. The promenade is steep so it can be very demanding on a sunny day. If you are hungry, head to the Indian Chimney (indianchimney.com.au) at 662 Dean Street. They prepare fantastic Indian food. Just next to the restaurant, at 664 Dean Street, you will find Mr Benedict (mrbenedict.com.au) where they serve a good breakfast.
Wodonga is a bit quieter than Albury. One of the main attractions is The Army Museum Bandiana (alburywodongaaustralia.com.au/3471/the-army-museum-bandiana) at Anderson Road. It is one of the largest military museums in the country and they have lots of vehicles on display. Perfect for the history buff. Low entrance fee but you must book at least 24 hours in advance to get in since it is within a military base. At Wodongas local brewery, the Cheeky Peak Brewery (cheekypeakbrewery.com.au), the staff is passionate and has a genuine interest in brewing beer and cider. This gem is in the city’s industrial area at 67 Wigg Street. You can order at the bar and see how the brewery process works. They have a BYO policy on food, so you can even bring your own food into the area without anyone raising an eyebrow. For fine dining, don’t miss out on Miss Amelie (missamelie.com.au) which is the city’s best restaurant. Miss Amelie can be found in Wodonga’s old train station at 46 Elgin Boulevard. The chef has previously worked under Jamie Oliver and the menu has clear influences from his journey in Europe. The food is beautifully served, and the staff is in top class. Your daily dose of coffee can be enjoyed at Piccolo Pod (facebook.com/piccolopod) at 34 Elgin Boulevard. They roast their own coffee beans, so no need to worry about the quality of the brew.
Good to know
There is a Visitor Information Centre on the corner of Smollet and Young Street in Albury. Wodonga’s Visitor Information Centre can be found along Hovell Street. Both are open every day of the week between 09:00 and 17:00. Their website (visitalburywodonga.com) contains lots of helpful information. You can also use the informative website Albury Wodonga Australia (alburywodongaaustralia.com.au) to plan your trip.
When travelling between different states, you should be aware that certain things may be forbidden to bring along, such as specific vegetables, soil or fruit. To avoid getting fines in their hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, visit Interstate Quarantine to see what applies (interstatequarantine.org.au).
Travelling by car takes about five and a half hours from Sydney, from Canberra three and a half and from Melbourne around three (wotif.com/Car-Hire). It is equally good to take the train or to fly from Sydney and Melbourne (wotif.com/Flights). The airport is located a few kilometres outside Albury and you can take a bus into the city (bordershuttlebus.com.au/contact). The airlines that fly to Albury are Regional Express, Virgin and Qantas. Free parking is valid within Albury and Wodonga, but for a limited period. Trains are run by V/Line (vline.com.au) and NSW TrainLink (nswtrainlink.info).
Avoid choosing accommodation along the main road if you can’t stand loud noises. Sometimes a truck will drive past making the windows rattle. For campers, there are free campsites along Murray River. Contact one of the information centres for help finding a place. If you are a backpacker or just a budget traveller, BIG4 Albury Tourist Park (Hotels in BIG4 Albury Tourist Park) is located in the area. It lies a good distance north of Albury at 372 Wagga Road in Lavington, so this accommodation works best if you have access to your own vehicle. Should you mainly explore Albury’s neighbourhood, Albury City Motel (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Albury_City_Motel.htm) is a good alternative. It is a three-star budget accommodation centrally located at Young Street. Cheap and simple but has most things necessary. Five different room types are available. Hume Country Motor Inn (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Sundowner_Hume_Country_Motor_Inn.htm) has rooms for up to six people, making it a good fit for a family or a group of friends. The motel is a short drive from both Albury and Wodonga at 736 Logan Road. Plenty of parking spaces. Great location. Their spacious pool is a big plus.
If you are planning to have a look around near Albury and Wodonga, there are many great places to stay at in Albury (hotelscombined.com/Place/Albury.htm). If you prefer staying in Wodonga (hotelscombined.com/Place/Wodonga.htm) it is best if you have access to your own car since several hotels are located a bit outside the city centre. Three kilometres outside Wodonga’s centre lies BIG 4 Borderland Holiday Park (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Secura_Lifestyle_BIG4_Borderland_Wodonga.htm). They have a range of grass spots for tents, spots for caravans and cottages of varying size to rent. In the bargain, you will have access to a kitchen including a gas burner, microwave and a large refrigerator. There is also a swimming pool and a children’s playground. Also Murray Valley Motel is located a bit outside the city centre at 196 Melbourne Road (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Murray_Valley_Motel.htm). They offer affordable and simple rooms with access to an outdoor pool, BBQ facilities and free Wi-Fi.