Melbourne - Sydney via Hume Highway (Hwy 31)
Total Distance 880 km
All distances measured from Melbourne
The coastal route using the Princes Highway is the most scenic and if you have plenty of time itís by far the most interesting way to go. However if you want to get from city to city by the quickest route, use the Hume Highway.
The easiest way to get on to the Hume coming from Melbourneís southern or south-eastern suburbs is to travel along the CityLink from the Monash Freeway, follow the airport signs after the Domain Tunnel to continue on the CityLink to the Western Ring Road just after Essendon Airport (not as far as Tullamarine) and then look out for the Sydney signs at Campbellfield. You will need a DayPass to travel on CityLink and you can buy one at most Post Offices, some service stations and from the CityLink Service Centres.
Sydney Road through Brunswick and Coburg becomes Highway 31 but both these suburbs are very congested and are best avoided - particularly if towing. Freeway conditions start from Craigieburn and continue all the way to the NSW border at Albury.
Along the way you will notice exits for a number of interesting little towns that are now by-passed by the freeway and some of these are worth a visit if you have time.
The first of these is Seymour (101 km), and just north of the town is the exit for the Goulburn Valley Highway (Hwy. 39) to Shepparton and the NSW border where the Newell Highway (still Hwy. 39) begins its long journey north to Queensland.
Another town along the way is Benalla (192 km.) The town dates back to the 1830s when todayís lovely wide freeway was little more than a track carrying horse-drawn vehicles between the two Capital Cities. The notorious outlaw Ned Kelly, who was captured in a well-documented fight further north at Glenrowan, also operated in this district.
If you glance to the east as you drive north in winter on a clear day, you can often see snow on the Victorian Alps as you approach Wangaratta (239 km.) One of Victoriaís well-known jazz festivals takes place here every October and it is an easy drive to the vineyards and wineries of the Rutherglen district and their famous festivals. Victoriaís high country, made famous by Banjo Patterson in his ballads, can be reached by turning off onto the Ovens Highway (Hwy.156). This will lead you to Myrtleford and Bright on the way to Mt. Hotham and other alpine resorts.
Itís not far now to Wodonga (300 km.) and its twin town Albury (306 km.) with the Murray River, marking the NSW border, meandering between them. Together, they make up the second largest inland town in Australia - with Canberra the only city greater in size.
For those people taking two days for the trip, this is a good place to break the journey. There are plenty of good caravan parks, an abundance of eating places and of course, if money is burning a hole in your pocket, the clubs with their poker machines always welcome strangers to town.
After passing the turnoff for the Olympic Highway (Hwy.41) and Wagga Wagga the next place of note is Holbrook 372 km. and its submarine. A complete WW2 sub. sits in a park by the side of the highway in the middle of town and always attracts sightseers. A good spot for a break.
Another good spot for a meal break or just to stretch the legs is where the dog sits on the tucker box some miles or kilometres after Gundagai (486 km.) You have to turn off to reach the service stations and food outlets but itís only a few metres and at least you can boast that youíve actually seen the statue of the infamous canine who did bad things to the manís lunch!
Yass (580 km.) is another place that gets missed by the highway but its a sizeable town and worth a look if you have time. Hume and Hovel used this route when they were seeking an overland way to reach Port Phillip and people have lived here since the 1820s. The Barton Highway (Hwy. 25) to Canberra branches off just west of Yass.
Our next sizeable town is Goulburn (655 km.) and this is not a bad place to overnight if you want to get into Sydney during the day and not during the evening rush hour. Itís about a three-hour trip from here and there are two caravan parks in the town and plenty of choices for dining out.
From here to journeyís end itís freeway conditions through the Southern Highlands - in fact the freeway started some time back.