Melbourne to Sydney via the Alpine Way – Day 1
Charmaine and I together with little Levi decided to take a week off work and do a round trip from Sydney to Melbourne taking a different route each way. Main reason for the trip was due to a friend getting married, but we extended our stay to explore the touristy gems in Melbourne and then to take our time and discover the less known Australian towns off the highways and byways.
The trip to Melbourne was down the Hume highway, with an overnight stay in Albury, due to two year olds not handling 8-9 hour trips well. That drive was mostly uneventful. Apart from regular stop overs to assist in the toilet training routine, and to stretch everyone’s feet, Hume highway is built for one purpose only, that is to get people from Sydney to Melbourne and vice versa, as quickly as possible. It is a well built two lane highway that would have cut a big chunk of time from the old road that traversed through little towns slowing everyone down due to speed restrictions. But the price you pay is the monotonous views.
I originally flirted with the idea of driving back via the Princes highway along the coast but then took the plan of exploring the Victorian/NSW countryside and began to brainstorm with Google maps, to see just what other roads might interest me. I wanted something that was a road less travelled, but still headed in the general direction of Sydney. After dismissing several options, including one that had unpaved roads used by logging trucks, I narrowed my selection to the following route. This would consist of two overnight stop overs. This post is about Day 1 of my travels back.
Here is a map of the full trip as well as points of interest.
Day 1 – Melbourne to Khancoban (NSW)
As we put away the last remains of our belongings into suitcases that were packed and prepared the night before, the sun rays still did not penetrate through the horizon to light-up the dim suburban streets. Our Melbourne stay was mostly at an Airbnb granny flat type of accommodation about 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre. It meant that we were quick to get on the Hume highway and head back North towards our destination. The final conceived route back involved taking the same road for around three hours until we reached Wodonga. Located just below Albury which was our halfway point coming down; the town was big enough for a small shopping centre, but small enough to not have a food court. After eating what barely constituted as a fit-down meal we were ready to proceed. Wodonga the first major marker indicated to us that we were leaving the Hume Hwy and starting to head East through the picturesque Victorian country side and eventually led into the renown Kosciusko National Park.
Before leaving town we circled the neighbourhood looking for a playground for Levi to stretch his legs once more before the next leg of the journey. Eventually we discovered that Wodonga has a beautiful park with its very own lake that was home to a rowdy gaggle of geese and ducks. We had some spare bread and used the opportunity to entertain Levi by letting him feed the birds. It was only later that we spotted a sign asking NOT to feed them, as some may become aggressive, too late for that.
Accompanying the lake was a brand new playground that we let Levi make good use of. I know it was new because a billboard proudly read that the playground was built with government stimulus money, that was recently pumped into the economy when the GFC was in full swing.
As we left Wodonga, our final destination was a B&B place that I happen to find when doing a bit of research two nights ago. It was located two hour drive East, next to a small town of Khancoban.
The drive there was via single lane, Monaro highway that stretched and turned through the local country side. We kept our pace at a comfortable 80km/h which allowed us to take in the local scenery. We soon passed what appears to be a lake that had dwindled in size probably due to the Summer heat. You could tell that the lake was larger at other times of the year as the vegetation was a much healthier green around the outline of the lake. There stood what would have been the middle section of the lake a small army of darkened and barren trees. The leafless look of them gave the appearance of huge arms emerging out of the ground much like old zombie movies.
The road bent around the lake and continued on passing lots of farm land. Eventually Levi gave us the sign that he needs to go to the toilet. Unlike the Hume highway that is littered with rest stops, this road assumed that you have a strong bladder, or don’t drive with two year olds. But finally I spot a restroom at a turn off to a small town, Cudgewa. Our plan B if we didn’t see the sign was just to use the grass on the side of the road. In a passing conversation between Charmaine and I of Plan B, Levi managed to take a whiff of it and decided that is exactly where he wants to do his business. Just then we pull up to the toilet block that is standing on the side of the street. But it proved to be useless as Levi was fixed on his newly discovered freedom of using nature as his peeing grounds. While Levi enjoyed the emancipation from his car-seat and nappy, I did a quick glance of the street. There was not a single human sole visible. From this location it appeared that the whole town was made of two streets. What was most striking was how quiet everything was. You are just not use to this lack of human sounds spending your day in the bustling city. As the character Darryl Kerrigan from the Aussie cult classic The Castle would say “So much serenity.”
Eventually we got back on our main road and drove a bit more to a much more decently sized town, Corryong. First noticeable thing in the town was a statue of the man from the Snowy River placed next to the local Information centre. All I know about this Snowy man who enjoys rivers was that he is as much part of the Australian psyche as Ned Kellie, whose legacy by the way we also got to see through the various towns we drove through coming to Melbourne. After gathering valuable maps and advice from the Info centre we proceeded to our first nights resting place.
A small crude home-made sign on the side of the road instructed us to turn left for Cossettini B&B. We were greeted by an elderly lady and her husband who both live in the house that the B&B was attached to. I eventually learnt that their five children use to live with them but as they moved out leaving an empty nest, the place was converted into a bed and breakfast lodge. The lady showed us the separated part of the house that contained its own bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. She then said we have a choice of this place or another place they have that was located about 100 meters from the main property. Not seeing anything wrong with the attached bedroom and being drained from driving for hours we didn’t bother to inspect our other options and just settled there.
The place is situated on a decent plot of land enough for some livestock. The main house itself was surrounded by a number of fruit trees, vegetables and grapevines. The lady said we could help ourselves to the grapes that stretched on the side and the back of the house.
Eventually after resting for a bit we decided to have dinner at one of the two eateries located in the next door town, Khancoban, and then crashed for the night back in the lodge.
Next morning I was out early walking around the garden inspecting the variety of produce that was growing, when Joe, the husband came out to say hello. We had a great chat, as he showed me the selection fruit and vegetables that he had growing. I learn that there were a total of 11 types of grapes growing on the property. He was kind enough to provide cutting from my favourite flavours, so that I may grow my own. Before we put the bags back in the car and continued on, Joe asked us to pack some of the garden goodies to take with us. We ended up with three bags of plums, grapes and tomatoes in total. Overall it ended up being the most interesting and comfortable place we stayed at from our holiday. That is from a total of five different locations in the seven days of travel.
Stay tuned for DAY 2 of our trip.