Central and North Eastern Victoria is a region of Australia which is not explored as much as it should be. Many travellers skip between the major cities of Melbourne and Sydney and miss everything in between. It’s a shame. Central and North Eastern Victoria, the regions which follow the Murray River and it snakes its way through Australia, is full of wonders to explore. There is history, national parks. wine and art.
Day 1: Melbourne to Albury
You start your journey in Melbourne’s hip CBD. There is so much to do in this busy city. Our guide to central Melbourne will keep you busy. If you don’t manage to fit it all in, then head out after breakfast for a little more sightseeing. The drive from Melbourne to Albury isn’t too long. It takes about three and a half hours to go from the bustling capitol city to this small Murray River town.
The town of Albury doesn’t have any of it’s own spectacular attractions, but it doesn’t matter. We stayed at the Quality Resort Siesta and there was so much to do at the resort that we didn’t even feel the need to leave. As soon as we arrived and spotted the massive outdoor pool, with islands, jumping rocks, slides, caves, and hidden hot pools and saunas, well, we didn’t want to ever leave.
The sky was overcast but the water was warm. It rained a little later in the day but it didn’t matter, we simply moved to the indoor pool with sombrero shaped hot pool.
Day 2: Albury and Beechworth
There are loads of national parks around the Albury region. Where you explore will depend on your level of fitness, your desire for adventure, and the ages that you are travelling with. Since we are travelling with a toddler we chose to visit an area which didn’t have as much driving time, and that had shorter, easier walks. We decided to go to Mt Pilot National Park and the historic town of Beechworth. You can read our full guide to Beechworth and the surrounds here.
Day 3: Albury to Echuca
It’s just over three hours from Albury to Echuca, but there is one major stopping point in between where you may find yourself spending a lot of time, so plan accordingly.
The main stop between these two towns is Rutherglen. If you are a lover of wine, then you may have heard of it before. This wine region is incredibly small, but it is also incredibly special. Rutherglen is home to the Durif grape variety (known as Petite Sirah in other parts of the world). Rutherglen used to be the only place in Australia which grew this spicy red variety. Even though some other regions are now experimenting with Durif, Rutherglen is still it’s home and stronghold.
Rutherglen is home to more than 20 wineries, ranging from large productions inside of castles, to small family run businesses. Most of the wineries are located close to each other, so it isn’t hard to call in at a few. We stopped at three wineries and stocked up our supplies before heading on to Echuca. You can read more about Rutherglen wine at their tourism portal. (external link)
We arrived into Echuca in time to check in, unpack, and head to town to catch one of the day’s last Murray River cruises. This cruise was one of the highlights of our trip, and I highly recommend you read our full Echuca and Murray River post here.
Day 4: Echuca to Bendigo
It’s an easy hour and half drive from Echuca to Bendigo. There are not many major stops along the way, which will allow you to get to Bendigo in good time.
One pit stop which was recommended to us by the owners of the Comfort Resort Echuca Moama, is a great place for families. It’s called Golden Cow (external link) and it is a petting zoo/ farm where you can gather eggs, pat calves, and play with the animals. It is also home to a cafe with 80 flavours of milkshake. Yes you read that right. We were so disappointed when we realized we were passing through on a Monday, which is one of the days the farm is closed to visitors.
You will still want to arrive in Bendigo in good time, as you wouldn’t want to miss out on one of the best science and technology learning experiences for kids in rural Victoria. That’s the Discover and Technology centre in Bendigo, and you can read more about it in our full Bendigo article.
Day 5: Bendigo to Melbourne
It’s a short drive again from Bendigo to Melbourne, so instead of being in a hurry to end the road trip, why not pull in to the Bendigo Pottery Centre? We stopped in on our last morning to play with clay and make our own pots and vases. It was much more fun that we expected and we ended up spending the best part of the morning there. You can read more about our pottery experience on our feature article about Bendigo.
Finding the right rental car for your journey
If you are arriving into Melbourne airport, then its easy and convenient to pick up your rental car from the airport. But if you are based in Melbourne, you can always find the same companies based near the city as well.
When we go on a road trip we consider a lot of factors when choosing a rental car. We always try to rent the smallest car possible that will suit our needs. Not only our smaller cars cheaper to rent overall, but they are usually more fuel efficient as well. You also need to consider how much luggage you will have with you. One of our prams, a hiking/ off roading pram, does not fold down too well. Whenever we travel with that pram we need a larger style of vehicle which has a large enough trunk to fit the pram. One last thing to consider is whether there is a limit on kilometres or not. Some companies only allow a certain amount of kilometres per day or per rental while others offer unlimited. We always opt for the unlimited option.
For this trip we picked up a Redspot – Sixt rental car from the Melbourne airport. Redspot – Sixt offers a wide variety of rental options, from budget options like a Nissan Micra all the way up to family size SUV’s. We also find Redspot – Sixt offers come of the best value when it comes to rental vehicles as well, always good for the wallet!
Our Central Victorian adventure tour was made possible by Choice Hotels. Want to win your own Aussie Road Trip Adventure? Check out the Tom Williams Aussie Adventures competition for your chance to win.