The Sydney to Melbourne inland drive is a staple road trip that many Aussies have been making since childhood – myself included. We drove down as a family of three with Cheese for the first time this summer to experience the iconic drive for ourselves.
Driving between Sydney and Melbourne will take approximately eight to nine hours to cover the 877.6 km stretch via the Hume Highway. While it can be done in one day, I advise breaking the trip an evening stopover so there’s time to pull into these gems along the way.
Sydney To Melbourne Inland Drive: The Best Places To Stop On A Hume Highway Road Trip
Australia’s first inland city, as proclaimed by letters by Queen Victoria in 1863 is a must, even if it’s just to snap a pic with Rambo, the Big Merino. It’s just not an Aussie road trip without photographing one of the weird “big” icons that Australia loves to set up by the roadside.
The Big Merino stands 15.2m tall just off Goulburn’s southern exit. It was built in 1985 to celebrate the city and district’s fine wool industry. An exhibition on 200 years of wool history in Australia can be seen inside Rambo (open daily, 8.30am-5.30pm).
In the actual town of Goulburn, we loved Belmore Park. It’s a gorgeous spot with a rotunda, flowering gardens, fountain, shady trees, glass house conservatory, war memorials and a playground. There are also public toilets (including a wheelchair accessible toilet). The park is a fantastic stop to let kids run around, cartwheel and stretch those legs.
Across the road from Belmore park you’ll find The Roses Cafe, a delicious spot to stop for refuelling the humans. Their extensive menu features the most amazing homemade cakes, quiches, muffins, salads, frittatas, pies, cookies and more. Every single item is made from scratch onsite, each day.
This classic Australian country town is worth a detour to see. Walk up quaint main street, check out the Old Gungdegai Goal that was built in 1859, the Gundagai Historical Museum and Gundagai Railway station, built in 1885. A must is a stop at the famous Dog on the Tuckerbox, 8km north of Gundagai, just off the Hume Highway. We stopped at this exact spot so many times on our family Sydney to Melbourne inland drive road trips when I was a kid, and I had a ball recreating the photo from an image my parents had saved of me standing in the same spot when I was three.
Inspired by the 1850s poem “Bullocky Bill”, which celebrates the life of the loyal drover’s dog that guarded the man’s tuckerbox (where all his possessions were kept) until his death. The statue was immortalised in the song “Where the Dog Sits on the Tuckerbox (5 miles from Gundagai)”, as was the town in “The Road To Gundegai” both by Jack O’Hagan.
In the middle of rural NSW, almost exactly halfway between Sydney and Melbourne, is a submarine. A real one. The HMAS Otway Submarine is insanely out of place in the country town of Holbrook, but that’s really part of its charm.
Kids can climb up and run all over the submarine, while parents will enjoy visiting the Holbrook Submarine Museum and hearing the story of the daring Captain Holbrook, for whom the town was named. There is a cafe next to the submarine and a park adjacent with a playground and restrooms.
On the banks of the Murray River, at the border of New South Wales and Victoria, sits Albury. There is plenty to do in this town, making it an ideal place to spend the night. Noreuil Park is a great spot for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and riding bikes, while more active families might enjoy the 6km Wagirra Trail along the Murray River that features the history of the local indigenous tribe, the Wiradjuri people, and sculptures.
We particularly enjoyed the 130-year-old Botanic Gardens with its winding paths, towering trees and fantastic Children’s Garden. A recent addition to the park, the Children’s Garden is the perfect place for little ones to explore and let their imaginations run wild. We found a dinosaur with speaking tubes in its head and tail, a fairy house, troll cave and story circle, plus lots of other amazing little details carved and sculpted into the garden.
For a great cafe stop, try Mr Benedict at 664 Dean St, where we had a delicious all-day breakfast.
As previously mentioned, Albury is a great spot to spend the night on the Sydney to Melbourne inland drive. If decide to break your journey here, try the newly renovated Atura hotel – the “hippest” accomodation on the Hume Highway.
A must stop on the Sydney to Melbourne inland drive for history buffs! Glenrowan is best known for its link to the bushranger Ned Kelly and the infamous Kelly gang. It was in Glenrowan where Kelly dressed in a helmet and homemade armour laid siege against the Melbourne troopers in 1880. Pick up a town map from the Glenrowan Bakehouse and follow the self-guided walk around the Glenrowan Heritage Precinct, which includes the siege and capture sites.
It’s a fascinating walk back in time to stand in the exact spot where one of Australia’s most notorious events took place. There’s also no better way to interest kids in history than for them to experience it for themselves.
Another place to stop – although it’s a rather significant detour – is Canberra. Read our tips on Canberra here.
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!