Where are the best places to stop on the Hume Highway if you’re planning a road trip with kids between the major Australian cities? The Hume is so flat and well maintained it’s easy to keep bypassing exits without knowing which are the most convenient and interesting pit stops for a bite to eat or a run around a park. Here are the suitcases&strollers travel tips for some of the more memorable sights between Sydney and Melbourne.
The road along the Hume Highway is extremely well maintained. This means you will not drive far without finding a basic rest stop with a toilet or a giant convenience stop with petrol station, fast food and even (McDonalds-style) playground. While there is no doubt these are handy and easy places to take a break, you can do better. All along this countryside are quaint towns, quirky attractions and parks and cafés for a more peaceful and less industrial respite.
[For more travel tips on surviving long car drives with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
If you’re a bit of a foodie chasing the next hot thing, just outside Melbourne is a pizzeria that’s creating a lot of buzz. It’s name, Bank Street Wood Fired Pizza and Garden, basically speaks for itself and while stopping here won’t get you too far out of Melbourne, those who do it say the pizza is definitely worthwhile.
If you’re after a quick stop for some scones and jam or a small bite, Euroa is a pretty town. About an hour and a half out of Melbourne there is a farmer’s market on the third Saturday of every month (from 9am to 1pm) and Jumping Jumbuck Restaurant [24 Tarcombe St., Euroa, Victoria, Australia, +61 3 5795 1181] has a nice sun dappled courtyard perfect for the warmer months. There is a tiny kids' table inside with colouring in tools and toys that they are happy for you to bring outside. Euroa Butter Factory has a small cubby house and slide outside, colouring in stuff inside but no highchairs. Afterwards, if you have time, head to the Euroa Miniature Railway which is inexpensive and fun.
[For more travel tips on miniature railways in Victoria for kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
If the children really need somewhere to run around and stretch their legs, travel another half hour up to the road to a decent park with both a full sized and toddler-friendly playground on Bridge Street in Benalla. The equipment is a little tired looking but there is plenty of it and it is located right next to the lake. Public toilets are also available. A short walk across the road are takeaway food places if you want to make a picnic out of it and there are plenty of tables and benches scattered about just for that purpose.
As any local will tell you, this is one of the most memorable parts of a drive between Melbourne and Sydney when you’re a kid on family holidays in Australia. As an adult it might seem a little twee, but there is still something fun about the random giant figurines scattered throughout Australia and the giant Ned Kelly is no different.
This is Ned Kelly country, so as well as the enormous effigy of the legendary bush ranger, Glenrowan (just past Benalla) is also home to the Glenrowan Tourist Centre which is a small museum (the official website calls itself a “theme park” but if you’ve been to Disneyland manage your expectations) that boasts an interactive theatrical performance. Prices are a little steep so save this for children who are real Ned Kelly enthusiasts.
If you prefer something more gourmet, it’s worth a little detour off the Hume to stop for lunch at the Brown Brothers cellar door in Milawa. As well as tasting some of Australia’s most famous wines, there is a casual tapas-style restaurant with plenty of lawn and a gated playground so the kids can run while parents sample a wine flight.
Nearby is the Milawa Cheese Company where you can pick up some snacks to take away with you.
[For more travel tips on kid friendly wineries in Victoria, see the suitcases&strollers story on Family Friendly Wineries in Rutherglen.]
Albury & Wodonga
These twin towns make the perfect stopover point to break up a trip between Melbourne and Sydney with kids and have a decent meal and sleep in a proper bed. There are lots of activities around the area to do including swimming, fishing, bike riding or visiting the miniature railways before heading back to the highway. [For lots of travel tips on where to eat, stay and play in Albury Wodonga with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
If you need a caffeine fix before you rehit the road, stop over for a drive through espresso at the brand new coffee shop inside the brand new APCO service station on Moorefield Park Drive (corner of Romnet Road, close to the Murray Valley Highway) in Wodonga.
Only about a forty minute drive from Albury Wodonga is Holbrook, a town that is remarkable simply for the fact that it boasts a real decommissioned submarine right on the main street. The World War I B11 HMAS Otway sub now serves as something of a children’s playground with kids climbing all over it. Helpfully there is a café overlooking the submarine making supervision easy.
If the kids really love the submarine, you can learn more about it at the Holbrook Submarine Museum. Entry is quite reasonable and inside you will learn all about how submarines work, get up close to a control room, climb through a reconstructed submarine interior and even look inside through a periscope to the pub across the road. There is also a short hologram movie included.
[Another unlikely place you can board a real submarine and even climb inside it is in Malacca, Malaysia. To read more travel tips about Malacca with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Dog on the Tuckerbox
Just past Gundagai is the famed statue of the Dog on the Tuckerbox, usually a convenient toilet stop on the last legs of the journey. The statue itself is not particularly impressive but it is an iconic Australian rest point on the drive between Sydney and Melbourne and is a bit of a tourist must-do photo opportunity.
The dog is so famous there are a convenient kiosk, picnic area, shop and toilet facilities all built to support the many families who choose to stop here.
Goulburn is a good last place to stop before Sydney to let the kids out of the car, pose for pictures next to the Big Merino sheep and let the children have a play at the pretty Belmore Park playground. About two hours past Gundagai, Goulburn is a large community so there are plenty of shops and restaurant/café options to refuel and freshen up. From there it is another 2 hours (without traffic) into the Sydney CBD.
If you're after a more significant detour along the drive from Melbourne to Sydney, see the suitcases&strollers story Tumbarumba.
Images: suitcases&strollers, Destination NSW, Paul Foley, David Hannah, Ken Stepnell, Visions of Victoria