I’ve spent the better part of the last decade travelling between Sydney and Melbourne. While I often fly between the two cities, there have many times that have required me to drive. So I’ve racked up my fair share of kilometres on the Hume Highway (also referred to as the M31) driving between the two.
In terms of intercity drives, the Hume Highway is the easiest one in Australia. The road is almost entirely a motorway between Sydney and Melbourne, making it a really simple drive, even for those who haven’t spent much time driving through the country.
In fact, once you are on Sydney’s motorway network, the speed limit only slows below 100km/h once around the La Trobe University campus at Wodonga, and there is only one set of traffic lights between the two cities.
That said, its simplicity also means that it is one of Australia’s least scenic road trips, but there is certainly no shortage of places to stop, as well as things to see and do.
Once you factor in stops and traffic, particularly through the cities at either end of the trip, you’ll be looking at about 10-12 hours for the trip.
Without any diversions, Sydney CBD to Melbourne CBD its 877 kilometres.
The Hume Highway is a multilane highway, which is effectively a motorway the entire way. It is certainly the easiest of the city-to-city drives in Australia.
Once you merge onto the Hume Highway from the M5 or M7 at the Sydney end, it’s about 50km to the first fuel stop (7-Eleven at Pheasants Nest), then about another 70km to the next option (Shell at Sutton Forest). From there, it roughly averages out to about 100km between fuel stops. Every township I mention in this blog post has at least one good petrol station to fuel up.
Yes, it’s about 10-12 hours in the car (depending on stops) taking the Hume Highway route, but it is a fairly easy drive.
The Hume Highway directly links Sydney and Melbourne, starting in one and finishing in the other.
At the Sydney end, the highway section of Hume Highway links up with the M5 and M7. Still, you can continue to follow the A28/A22 route, where the old Hume Highway continues under a number of different road names (including Liverpool Road and the Camden Valley Way) until it joins up with the Great Western Highway (Parramatta Road) in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield.
While in Melbourne, the motorway section of the Hume Highway links up to the M80 (also known as the Metropolitan Ring Road). The old Hume Highway route, also known as Sydney Road (State Route 55), takes you all the way into the city.
Officially the town of Tarcutta marks the halfway point between Sydney and Melbourne along the Hume Highway route.
With all of that in mind and based on my experience over the last decade, here are the best places to stop along the Hume Highway when driving between Sydney and Melbourne.
Goulburn, NSW – The Big Merino
Roughly two hours drive south of Sydney, the Big Merino is the first “big thing” on the drive down to Melbourne. Making it one of the more interesting stops along the way.
Take the second Goulburn exit off the Hume Hwy (when heading southbound, it’s the first on the northbound trip) to find the Big Merino. This iconic (and extraordinarily large) sheep is located at the Shell service (petrol) station and in close proximity to a couple of fast food outlets (McDonald’s, Olivers and Subway).
However, to get away from the regular road trip junk food procession, there are a couple of nicer cafes also in the vicinity.
My personal recommendation is Trappers Bakery, directly across the road from the Big Merino. The bakery is open from 5:30am and it’s a great place to grab some breakfast and a coffee to get you started in the morning for the first part of your long road trip.
If you’re arriving in Goulburn a little later in the day (especially if you are splitting this trip up over two or more days), then it is taking a look inside the Big Merino.
Obviously, you’ll find the token souvenir shop, but what makes the visit worthwhile is the history of wool production in the area. You’ll also have the opportunity to climb to the top of the Merino and look out the windows that are its eyes.
If you can’t make it that far, for either fuel or caffeine-dependency-related reasons, Suttons Forest has a Shell service station and McDonald’s about 50k’s closer to Sydney.
Alternatively, if you want to push on a little further, Yass (yes, the town made famous by the creative McDonald’s roadside sign) has a service station complex just off the highway with a couple of fast food restaurants (including that McDonald’s).
Gundagai, NSW – Dog on the Tucker Box
Approximately another 2 hours down the Hume Highway is another one of the iconic stops along the drive between Sydney and Melbourne.
The Dog on the Tucker Box has been a landmark of the road trip between the two cities since 1926. While it’s not in its original location (along the old Hume Highway route), it’s now right next to the highway and a convenient stopping point during the trip.
This roadside stop as you approach Gundagai features a few historical buildings to explore and plenty of green space to walk around and stretch your legs. While next to the monument, there’s a cafe and trinket shop for more souvenirs.
Just a few meters down from the monument is a much more modern complex with a service station (another Shell) as well as a couple of fast-food restaurants (KFC, Subway and a couple of local vendors).
The Dog on the Tucker Box is fairly well signposted, but if you are heading southbound, you will need to cross the northbound lanes to get into the access road (which has two entrances from the Hume Highway). Alternatively, there are additional service stations and fast food outlets at the Gundagai exit from the highway, which might be a little more convenient to access when heading southbound.
That all said, if you are looking for something nicer to eat and taking a bit longer of a stop for a more relaxed drive, I’d recommend stopping just before Gundagai at a small town called Jugiong. A short little detour off the Hume Highway, you’ll find a tiny town that is home to the Long Track Pantry for some of the best food between Sydney and Melbourne.
Just keep in mind that the Long Track Pantry is closed on Tuesdays and does get quite popular around lunchtime, especially on weekends.
Holbrook, NSW – Submarine
Want to see something really unusual? How about a submarine parked in a field?
Just an hour further down the road is the small town of Holbrook. A short little detour off the Hume Highway, this little town uniquely features a history of Australian Naval Submarining, which is odd given its lack of access to the ocean, but you can find out all about that when you get there.
What really makes the Holbrook stand out is the HMAS Otway. When the Hume Highway was being upgraded to the road we see today, the small town, which relied heavily on the tourist traffic that passed through as part of the original highway route, knew it needed to attraction to ensure people diverted off the new road, and that where the decommissioned Royal Australian Navy Submarine comes in.
Destined to be turned into scrap metal, with some ingenuity from Holbrook’s locals the Otway continues to live on (well the top half anyway) as the town’s major attraction. Now located in the public park, you are now free to walk around and explore the submarine.
Additionally, the park also features a small museum and a few other Naval displays. Making Holbrook an interesting stop to help break up the trip down the Hume Highway.
If you are looking for a feed or even just a caffeine top-up, there is a cafe right beside the Otway, which is handy for coffee and a snack. But if you are looking for the best custard tart that you’ve ever had and really good coffee, then a bit further down the road through the town is the Holbrook Bakery. Which is my personal recommendation.
Holbrook Bakery also has a second outlet at the Ampol Service station near the second Hume Highway (heading southbound, first if you are heading north) exit to Holbrook, which might be a little more convenient.
Albury/Wodonga – The Murray River and NSW/Victoria Border
For a significant part of the New South Wales and Victorian border, the Murray River acts as the natural divider between the two states.
While there are a number of towns along the Murray River, the two of the largest are Albury on the New South Wales side and Wodonga on the Victorian, both of which happen to be interlinked directly by the Hume Highway – after often referred to in with the combined Albury-Wodonga.
Fun Fact: The Hume Highway is the busiest route for road traffic across the Murray River.
The Albury-Wodonga region of the Murray River and Hume Highway could be a tourist destination on its own. There is plenty to see and do across the two towns.
That said, a couple of the key attractions, in addition to the famous Murray River, include the Murray Art Museum (MAMA), Monument Hill, Albury Railway Station, Lake Hume and the Hume Dam.
If you plan on splitting your drive between Sydney and Melbourne along the Hume Highway across two (or more) days, Albury or Wodonga are ideal as a natural overnight stopping point along the route. I’ve done it a couple of times when I’ve had to travel between the two cities during obscure hours.
On the Albury side of the river, my top suggestion would be the Astor Motel. Located conveniently just off the highway on the way into town, the Astor not only offers quiet and comfortable rooms but the onsite bar/restaurant is a fantastic option after a long day in the car; the food is great. You might also recognise it from several automotive road trip editorial campaigns.
Alternatively, the Atura Albury is also very good. Although it’s often slightly more expensive, it does feature more modern rooms and would be better suited for a multi-night stay. While for families, the BIG4 Albury Tourist Park, just outside of town, is a good option.
On the Wodonga side of the river, the Stagecoach Motel is a very good option. As is the newest hotel in the town – Motel 24. Especially if you want to quickly get back on the Hume Highway resume your road trip early the next morning.
Glenrowan, Victoria – Ned Kelly
Another one of the “big things” to see on the drive between Sydney and Melbourne is a special tribute to famous bushranger Ned Kelly.
About an hour further down the Hume Highway, just south of Wangaratta, Glenrowan is a small town made famous for being the location where the infamous Kelly Gang bushrangers made their last stand.
The town leans very heavily into this history with a number of monuments and attractions, the biggest being the gigantic statue of Ned Kelly attached to the local post office.
If you have an interest in this part of Australian history, it’s well worth a visit. Ned Kelly’s Last Stand at the Glenrowan Tourist Centre features an animatronic display of the gang’s last stand and also serves as a museum documenting the history of the famous bushranger, in particular his final moments.
Should you be looking for some food, snacks or anything else for that matter, you will also find an assortment of cafes and restaurants along the main road. As well as plenty of places to pick up Ned Kelly souvenirs.
That said, if you aren’t really interested in Ned Kelly or bushrangers in general, you might be to divert into Wangaratta instead. A much larger township, it offers a lot more options, particularly if you are looking for a solid meal option.
Alternatively, if you need a quick stop, especially for fuel, Glenrowan is also where you will find a BP service station with a McDonald’s attached. There is one on each side of the Hume Highway, so you don’t need to deviate off the route if you are looking to make good time. If that’s a little too soon in your drive Euroa, another 45 minutes down the Hume also features a service station (a Shell) and a McDonald’s.
Remember when I mentioned that the Hume Highway was one of Australia’s least scenic road trips, well this next section of the Hume Highway down to Melbourne is the main reason why. A quick stop into Glenrowan is a good opportunity to break up this part of the drive.
Seymour is the last big regional town (while heading south) along the Hume Highway towards Melbourne, making it a good last stop before making your way into the city.
While it doesn’t quite have the same drawcard appeal as some of the other stops I’ve mentioned so far in this post, there is still plenty to discover in this historical township.
Seymour has a long history of serving as a base for the Army. While the military has moved their operations to Puckapunyal (10km outside of town), there is still plenty of that history to discover. Two good examples are the Australian Light Horse Memorial Park and Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk.
For a more in-depth look at Australia’s military history, a detour into the Australian Army Tank Museum at Puckapunyal is also a good option.
Update: As of 2023, the Australian Army Tank Museum is currently closed to be refitted and updated and will be known as the Combined Arms Heritage Learning Centre (CAHLC) when it re-opens (scheduled for late-2024).
The town is also home to Seymour Railway Heritage Centre. While it’s not usually open to the public, it does occasionally run open days where you can see the historic trains under restoration.
You’ll also find a number of cafes, restaurants and service stations, as you might expect from a large regional town.
That said, if you don’t want to divert too far from the highway for fuel and/or a quick meal, there is an Ampol service station with a local takeaway at Tallarook, although it’s one of the least appealing service stations to stop at along the Hume. You might be better off at the much newer BP service station at Wallan, another 30-minute drive towards Melbourne.
Rounding out this trip down the Hume Highway is the Victorian capital of Melbourne.
At this end of the Hume Highway, the route seamlessly integrates into Melbourne’s motorway network. Linking into the Metropolitan Ring Road (M80). This will give you a number of different ways to get into the heart of the city, with the most direct (and typically fastest) being the Tullamarine Freeway/Citylink (Toll Road) (M2) route.
At this end of the trip, it probably goes without saying, but you are probably going to stop in Melbourne and see what all the fuss is about. So why not check out this comprehensive guide that covers everything you need to know ahead of your first trip to the city?
That wraps up my picks for the best places to stop along the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne.
Planning on making the trip to Brisbane or Adelaide instead? Or maybe you are planning a significant road trip around Australia? Make sure you check out my blog posts about the Pacific Highway and Sturt Highway as well.
If you’d like to get more information to help plan your trip to and around Australia… Check out the rest of my blog posts.
And if you have a travel-related question you would like me to answer, head on over to my contact page to get in touch and let me know.