May 10, 2023
7 mins Read
Home to the Murrumbidgee River and its waterways, a Riverina road trip is the best way to see one of Australia’s most productive and agriculturally diverse areas, boasting an array of food trails, delicious wineries, friendly towns and natural wonders.
From stepping back in time to the picturesque town of West Wyalong, where the main street follows the original bullock tracks built around gold diggings, to exploring the markets and wineries at Leeton and basking in the natural thermal pools of the Snowy Valleys, there are plenty of things to do around the Riverina.
Commence your road trip and take in some Aussie history with a stop in West Wyalong. The small town is brimming with hidden historic treasures, and one of the best ways to take it all in is on the self-guided Bland Shire Art Trail (download the map before you go).
The trail includes silo art, murals and sculptures from local and well-known artists, and is a fun way to study history through art. A lap of the main street is a must, with some of the heritage buildings lining the streets dating back to 1894.
Just under three hours from West Wyalong lies Hay, a township that boasts a unique selling point: the Hay Plains, which are world-renowned as the flattest place in the southern hemisphere.
Stop off for the night – the region has a wide array of camping options, but also boasts some incredible farm stays if that’s more your style – and make sure to enjoy the most epic sunset of your life.
Take advantage of free bike hire from the visitor centre to explore town. Later, take in some stargazing in the fresh country air for the ultimate Aussie experience.
Leaving Hay, drive around 40 minutes to arrive at the quaint settlement of Carrathool – a town boasting diverse agriculture, from cotton to vegetables, to sheep.
The best way to get the most out of Carrathool is by spending a day (or two) in nature. Drive to Oolambeyan National Park – a repurposed sheep station – to spot an incredible array of birdlife and visit a historic shearing shed. Locals also love spending a day on Pinkers Beach on the banks of the Murrumbidgee. Pack a fishing rod and swimmers, and enjoy a picnic lunch.
For a look at interesting historic architecture, stop at Carrathool Bridge. Built in 1924, it’s one of the last lifting bridges in Australia and the only left in existence that was built from timber trusses. You can no longer drive on it, but you can pull over to admire the engineering.
Get a taste of culture by following the Emerging Art Trail or dropping into Red Dust & Paddy Melons Community Gallery, and then refuel at Black Stump Hotel, the tallest bar in the Southern Hemisphere.
Spend the night at Corynnia Station Farm Stay. Between Goolgowi and Carrathool, experience the outback in style. Take a farm tour, relax in the pool, visit the owner’s kangaroo orphans and end the day around a campfire.
At the heart of the Riverina lies Leeton. As you take in the sights of this friendly, modern country town, make sure to stop by heritage-listed The Roxy. Originally opened in 1930, this cinema and community theatre will reopen in 2023 after redevelopment and will be sure to take you back in time.
Fivebough & Tuckerbill Wetlands is located just three kilometres from Leeton’s main street. It’s home to abundant birdlife, and you can walk or cycle the woodland and wetlands tracks, stopping at the viewing platforms to take in all the nature. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a rare or threatened species.
A visit to Lillypilly Estate Wines, home to some of the Riverina’s highest-quality wines, is a must. Pick up some bottles to enjoy later, then continue on to Whitton Malt House for lunch (or dinner and a whisky tasting if you’re staying the night). Enjoy the local produce on the menu, including fresh sustainable Murray cod and premium grass-fed beef, lamb, cured meats and cheese.
Narrandera, a small town just 25 minutes away from Leeton, is full of fun and adventure – as anyone who has visited its famous Lake Talbot Water Park will tell you. The aquatic paradise is a must-see when travelling through, with thrilling waterslides, solar-heated pools, immersive water features and splash parks that will keep the whole family entertained.
If swimming isn’t on the agenda, the town is also home to the Narrandera Flora and Fauna Reserve. This is an essential stop for all lovers of Australia’s cuddly favourite, the koala! Take in the peaceful nature trails and inhale the scent of fresh eucalyptus as you keep an eye out for the adorable marsupials dozing in the trees. The reserve is also home to over 300 species of birds and other Aussie favourites, including kangaroos and emus.
Less than an hour’s drive from Narrandera lies Coolamon Shire, which boasts a charming and relaxed country atmosphere with wide open spaces and well-maintained historic architecture. For foodies, a stop at Coolamon Cheese Co. is a no-brainer; make sure to stop by The Coffee Pedaler at the front of the heritage building to fuel up before taking your pick of award-winning cheeses.
Also check out the Coolamon Up-to-Date Store, built as a general store in 1909 and packed with plenty of character and heritage – inside you’ll find an interesting look into retail history.
For a look into the stories of some of Australia’s bravest, the Coolamon Fire Museum is a fascinating stop. For more than three decades, the museum manager has been piecing together a collection of firefighting memorabilia from around the world that tells the story of courageous firefighters, the conditions they work under, and the equipment they use to save lives, properties and towns.
Cootamundra is where cricketing legend Sir Donald Bradman was born, so sports and history buffs must schedule a visit to Bradman’s Birthplace Museum, following it up with a stroll along the Captains Walk.
Soak in the real country experience with a stay at Hillview Farmstay or Wallendbeen Park Farm, taking your pick of a cottage or glamping experience; both include animal and farm activities that are fun for adults and kids alike. After spending a night in your rural retreat, make sure to stop off at Gundagai’s hidden gem, Rusconi’s Marble Masterpiece, before you drive through to the Snowy Valleys.
Just over an hour from the Cootamundra-Gundagai region lies the Snowy Valleys, the perfect place to cap off your road trip of the Riverina region. Set up base for a couple of days because in Tumut, as there are numerous secret gems to explore in the area. Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins, a heritage-listed site just over 20 kilometres from Tumut, is a popular swimming spot during the warmer months, while also boasting a great hiking trail along Adelong Creek for those visiting in the colder months.
Enjoy the countryside drive to local favourite Paddy’s River Falls near Tumbarumba, and definitely don’t miss a visit to the Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool. Hidden in the valley, with eucalyptus trees towering overhead, a dip in the natural thermal pool – which stays 27°C all year round – will be an unforgettable experience.
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