A Roadside Attractions column for Australian Traveller Magazine on the route between Melbourne and Mildura via the Calder Highway.
Roadside Attractions – Melbourne to Mildura via the Calder Highway
Let AT liven up your next roadtrip. Each issue we take a well-worn path and provide you with plenty of perfect distractions along the way. By Kim Richards
“Not another road trip,” you’re thinking. The kids will get fidgety and ask the dreaded “Are we there yet?” 1000 times or more. But with AT’s quick stops and long stretches your trip is happily broken up as we steer you happily along the A 79. Here’s how to best enjoy the 650km Melbourne-Mildure stretch . . .
Stop 1 //
Bendigo, 150km northwest of Melbourne
Let your creative juices run wild at Bendigo’s Art Gallery (42 View St), one of the most beautiful provincial galleries in the country. Be inspired. Art’s always a great conversation starter, and massively educational for the more creative family. Before hitting the road, grab a cuppa from any coffee bar – the café culture is pretty prominent here.
Stop 2 //
Charlton, 245km from Melbourne
Here’s one for the fitness fanatic family: walk the 4km return trek along the Avoca River and set up your (prepacked) picnic on your return (easily done for the organised mum). There are tree-lined avenues and riverbanks running through town so finding a spot for your outdoor spread shouldn’t be hard.
Stop 3 //
Mount Wycheproof, 270km southeast of Mildura
Turn onto the C 267 for a quick peek at the smallest registered mountain worldwide. It’s a mere 43m high but boasts great little views. From town, turn right into High St, left into Mount St and follow your nose towards Mount Wycheproof. And if you didn’t stop at Charlton, here’s your chance to take a short walk uphill. (It shouldn’t take long.)
Stop 4 //
Lake Tyrrell Wildlife Reserve, 180km from Mildura
Five to ten minutes from Sea Lake, turn right off the Calder Hwy towards Lake Tyrrell, where you’ll find amazing views of Victoria’s largest salt lake (impressive even when dry, which is most of the year). Islands dotted around the lake are breeding grounds for thousands of seagulls. Keep an eye out – there’s a lot of wildlife around.
Stop 5 //
Ouyen, 102km south of Mildura
Stop for a delicious meal at the Victoria Hotel (22 Rowe St). We reckon it’s one of the nicest country pubs in Victoria. And although you’ll be rushed for time (as all travellers are), you’ve got to grab a take away Vanilla Slice for desert; Ouyen is home to the annual Vanilla Slice Day, so they’ve got a reputation to uphold.