Sydney Melbourne Heritage Drive

Melbourne to Sydney

Total Distance: 1125km
13hr 20min

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Linking the two most-populous cities of Australia, the Sydney Melbourne Heritage Drive teems with prime holiday spots. These destinations convey a wide selection of fascinating historical themes as well as a host of magnetising attractions and experiences that cover all sorts of tastes. Beginning in Melbourne, this path heads inland and incorporates the Murray River before reaching Sydney.

Highlights

  • Go underground at Bendigo’s Central Deborah Gold Mine
  • Hop on board a paddle steamer at the Port of Echuca
  • Photograph the marvellous Albury Railway Station
  • Visit the Big Merino at Goulburn
  • Soak up the colour of Southern Highlands towns
Paddlesteamer Emmylou, Echuca-Moama

Paddlesteamer Emmylou, Echuca-Moama

Lake Mulwala, Yarrawonga-Mulwala

Lake Mulwala, Yarrawonga-Mulwala

St Saviour's Cathedral, Goulburn

St Saviour's Cathedral, Goulburn

Melbourne

Start

Melbourne sets the tone for this touring route: the task of unravelling its past is easy and compelling.

Start at the Melbourne Museum, which gifts a wonderful insight into the city’s heritage and includes the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. While here, tour the neighbouring World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building.

Hear the stories of residents who have contributed to Melbourne’s rich multiculturalism with a visit to the Immigration Museum or tour the Old Melbourne Gaol, once home to infamous bushranger Ned Kelly.

Combine glorious surrounds with a glimpse into the past on an Aboriginal Heritage Walk at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne or visit Cooks’ Cottage within Fitzroy Gardens.

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Melbourne to Castlemaine

125km (1hr 25min)

Begin the touring route by joining the Calder Freeway: a string of welcoming towns and villages emerge. At worst they only require minimal diversions to reach.

Gisborne emits a historical vibe through classic old buildings. In addition, it has a handful of wineries that will introduce you to the cool-climate Macedon Ranges wine region.

Prized Victorian-era homes and beautiful private gardens surround the neighbouring townships of Macedon and Mount Macedon. A walk or drive to the top of Mount Macedon reveals wonderful views.

Charming Woodend will capture the attention of antique lovers and quirky Hanging Rock delivers impressive summit views.

A stroll along Piper Street at Kyneton is a feast for the senses. This renowned dining hotspot contains several striking bluestone buildings. Malmsbury’s National Trust structures are equally as grand.

An introduction to the prized Goldfields region begins at Castlemaine. An integral chapter in Australia’s history is owed to the discovery of gold in these parts during the 1850s.

Explore this past at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum, housed in a delightful art deco building. The museum thoroughly details the gold-rush past and the gallery showcases works from prominent Australian artists.

Wander through the sprawling grounds of Buda Historic Home & Garden to evoke memories of the golden days, or visit the refurbished Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.

Grand old buildings dominate Castlemaine’s streets, led by Theatre Royal. It is the oldest continually operating theatre in Australia.

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Castlemaine to Bendigo

40km (0hr 35min)

Take the slightly longer path to reach Maldon, which highlights its gold-rush days through a streetscape that has wowed the National Trust.

Allow plenty of time to become familiar with Bendigo – this large regional city teems with treasure. Its past is brought to life through an almighty collection of historical buildings: pay particular attention to well-named View Street.

An underground tour of the Central Deborah Gold Mine brings you even closer to a time gone by and is a gripping experience. Or head to the Dai Gum San Chinese precinct to best appreciate the contribution of Chinese miners to the gold rush.

Bendigo Tramways Vintage 'Talking' Tram provides a novel way of investigating the past, providing informative commentary as it passes key sights.

Rosalind Park is a leading spot if a picnic appeals. Among its many features is a lookout tower: climb it for glorious views.

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Bendigo to Echuca-Moama

90km (1hr 15min)

Head in a northeast direction bound for the Murray River. Pass through a series of small towns such as Rochester, which reveals more grand old structures synonymous with the area.

From here, you’ll be introduced to the mighty Murray at the twin towns of Echuca-Moama, which are divided by this massive waterway. This also marks a section of the Victorian-New South Wales border.

Revisiting the past is enthralling. The historical Port of Echuca recalls memories of the days when the river was a key transport route and taking a paddle steamer ride from here is a must.

It would be remiss to not mention the National Holden Motor Museum considering this is an Australian touring route. Check out a bounty of vehicles and other memorabilia that salute a national icon.

Placate a parched palate in a pleasant way by embracing the Echuca Moama wine region. Pick up a copy of the Echuca Moama & District Food and Wine Trail to guide you around.

Children will be transfixed by Adventure Play Park. With its many attractions, it sure beats your average playground.

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Echuca-Moama to Yarrawonga-Mulwala

145km (1hr 55min)

Discover alternative waterways along the next stretch of the Sydney Melbourne Heritage Drive. Cross the Goulburn River and then see Broken Creek, which runs through the heritage-rich town of Nathalia.

Further along, don’t miss Cactus Country at the small town of Strathmerton. It is likely to whip up thoughts of being in another part of the world.

You’ll be reacquainted with the Murray River at Cobram-Barooga, another pairing of towns that occupies real estate either side of the giant waterway. Stroll within Quinn Island Wetlands Sanctuary to view extensive bird life.

Metaphorical bird life is on offer at the Cobram Barooga Golf Club, which boasts two championship standard courses.

Continue to follow the Murray and you will soon reach Yarrawonga-Mulwala, which is sure to grab your attention.

The twin towns are on the edge of massive Lake Mulwala where water-based fun is bountiful. On dry land, two foreshores areas are prime spots for families and contain water slides, walking tracks, barbecue facilities, and more.

Children can burn off more energy at Tunzafun where amusements and rides abound.

For a brush with the past, visit the Yarrawonga Mulwala Pioneer Museum. It covers a wide selection of themes. Or head to Chinaman's Island for a relaxing walk.

Golfers are blessed with another gem. The 45-hole Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club is Australia’s largest public access golf course.

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Yarrawonga-Mulwala to Albury-Wodonga

90km (1hr 15min)

Eyeball the Murray River once more and allow the palate a taste of the heritage theme with a visit to Rutherglen. This former gold-rush town is home to a historical wine region and cellar doors are plentiful. Or simply stroll well-preserved streets on a heritage walk.

This stretch ends at the twin cities of Albury-Wodonga: both sparkle when it comes to history and culture.

A heritage walking tour of Albury exposes resplendent buildings. Its imposing railway station is a standout.

The AlburyLibrary Museum comprehensively uncovers the region’s past, while the Army Museum at nearby Bandiana has an almighty collection.

For a hit of culture, visit Arts Space Wodonga or the Albury Regional Art Gallery and check out diverse works.

Entertain children at Wodonga’s Harvey’s Fun Park, home to a bounty of amusements. At night, the illuminated Wodonga water tower makes for a wonderful photo subject.

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Albury-Wodonga to Goulburn

365km (3hr 55min)

Bid farewell to the Murray and join the Hume Highway, noting an essential stop soon after.

Holbrook is a small town big on history, offering a trio of diverse museums. They are the Holbrook Submarine Museum, the Woolpack Inn Museum, and the National Museum of Australian Pottery.

View the Australian Truck Driver's Memorial at Tarcutta and press on to Gundagai for a fascinating tour of its old gaol. Just north of town is the iconic Dog on the Tuckerbox statue.

Satisfy an appetite at the renowned Long Track Pantry at Jugiong or Barney's Of Bookham at Bookham – both are seriously good options for breaking up a long drive.

Yass is a great addition to the touring route with its trio of museums. At Cooma Cottage, celebrate the life of a famous explorer whose name you should be familiar with.

A diversion to Canberra rewards. The Nation’s Capital has a wealth of first-rate historical, cultural, and family attractions. The Australian War Memorial and a Parliament House tour are musts. A stroll around Lake Burley Griffin or through the Australian National Botanic Gardens are among the many other entertaining experiences.

From here, all roads lead to Goulburn – the Big Merino will greet you at its entrance. More than just one of Australia’s ‘big’ icons, the Big Merino allows you to uncover the nation’s wool industry.

Goulburn is Australia’s first inland city and teems with historical attractions – a casual walk unearths spectacular old buildings. The Goulburn Historic Waterworks and the Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre are both compelling and a wander around Garroorigang Historic Home is sure to interest.

The Goulburn War Memorial is a great place to pay your respects and includes a lookout that affords wonderful views.

History aside, the Victoria Park Rose Gardens are sure to catch your gaze and a handful of art galleries highlight works of talented locals.

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Goulburn to Sydney

195km (2hr 5min)

Continue your journey along the Hume Highway, bound for the New South Wales capital, and consider a slight diversion to a cluster of enticing Southern Highlands towns.

Moss Vale is exquisite, particularly so thanks to myriad colourful trees that are scattered throughout town. Its many historical buildings are also to be admired.

Bowral is cloaked in colour as well, especially in spring when its tulips take centre stage. The Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame is a prized attraction.

Neighbouring Mittagong continues the grand gardens theme and its impressive sandstone buildings have stood the test of time.

From here, slice through suburbs to reach the heart of Sydney. Continue to soak up heritage hotspots with ease.

The Rocks is a magnificent starting point. It essentially marks the spot where modern Sydney was established and this buzzing precinct retains a historical vibe that will instantly bite. The Rocks Discovery Museum not only retraces European settlement but extends well before that period to incorporate the area’s Aboriginal history.

This is just one of several attractions where you can learn about indigenous Australia: the Australian Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain are among other options.

The Justice and Police Museum is a spotlight dodger, yet with a series of intriguing yarns it should be on any itinerary.

Don’t forget the Sydney attractions that are part of the World Heritage-listed Australian Convict Sites. Hyde Park Barracks, the Gothic Revival-style Government House, and Cockatoo Island are all worth a visit.

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Extend the journey: Sydney to Penrith

75km (0hr 55min)

The gateway to the Blue Mountains, Penrith is an action-packed destination reached from the heart of Sydney in an hour.

Penrith’s positioning on the Nepean River is not its sole association with water – the city is an aquatic wonderland.

Two Penrith venues hosted water-based events during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and you can relive these unforgettable days. Penrith Whitewater Stadium provides kayaking and white-water rafting as well as guided venue tours, or head to the Sydney International Regatta Centre, which hosts regular events.

Alternatively, enjoy thrilling water recreation at Cables Wake Park or take a paddlewheeler cruise along the aforementioned Nepean River.

In stark contrast to all this water is the Museum of Fire. This red-hot Penrith attraction has a massive fire-fighting-themed collection, including fire vehicles, tools, and uniforms.

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