If you decide to go on a road trip as a family holiday, it is imporyant that you explain the route in detail to your kids. Even though our daughters are good travellers, we still had to keep motivating them.
Sometimes, motivation doesn’t mean big material things, although you might want to spoil your kids after such a big drive. For example, my daughters love to catch up their cousins that live in Albury and in Adelaide. But, we also do something special when we arrive in Adelaide, like going to see the pandas at Adelaide Zoo.
By Mireia Garriga
This post belongs to a series that covers the route Sydney to Adelaide via Albury and Bendigo, instead of via Hay.
Contents of this post
3rdLEG: Bendigo – Adelaide 615 km
This is the hardest leg of the road trip, as everyone starts to feel tired. The landscape changes quickly, from green to arid, from scenic to nearly treeless.
You will be driving against the sun. The road is straight without hardly any turn or any bend. If it sounds too much after two days driving, just think about staying one extra night in Bendigo, or adding a stop mid way.
Some suggestions to stop overnight are Bordertown or Tailem Bend.
Also, another idea is to reward your kids taking them to Monarto Zoo, which is the world’s largest open-range zoo. Monarto Zoo is on the same highway, so you don’t need to detour.
The effort is worth it. Adelaide is a beautiful city. It is so easy to get around in comparison to Sydney.
This is because Adelaide is a planned city. Colonel William Light planned Adelaide in a grid, with 5 squares in the city centre and a ring of parks surrounding the centre.
Nowadays, the parklands are one of the jewels of Adelaide, among other attractions. The parklands are still a masterwork of urban design. Adelaidians are so lucky to have this green space surrounding the city.
The parklands have playgrounds, picnic facilities and sports grounds, tracks to run or to cycle, etc. It is also a place to join the community in festivals, concerts, sports competitions…Also, the city centre is small. Everything is at your door step. You can even go to the beach by tram!
STOPS from Bendigo to Adelaide
St Arnaud is a former gold mining town, with well-preserved historic and traditional buildings with beautiful verandas. The main street (Napier Street) has several cafés and pubs.
16 Kings Avenue, St Arnaud VIC 3478
Phone: 03 5495 1894
Very close to the Queen Mary Gardens, Six2Six is a popular local bakery that serves great coffee, tea, pies, sausage rolls and toasted sandwiches. The bakery is not fancy, although it has a very intersting mural with some celebrities portraits such as Elvis Presley or Captain Sparrow. The cafe also has a section of gifts to purchase. On each teable you can find games and books.
From St. Arnaud, the GPS might takeyou through one-single line roads. Take B220 until you reach the turn of B210. Drive until Minyip. Then, take Minyip-Dimboola Rd (B200) that meets Borund Hwy (C234). After this intersection, you continue in Borund Hwy -direction to Nhil- until you reach the main intersection of the Western Hwy (A8) .
After this, the rest is easy! You only need to follow the highway all the way to Adelaide.
Although it is not the standard route, this really is a shortcut. It cuts the trip nearly one hour! The only drawback is that there isn’t anything, only countryside.
Therefore, make sure that your children go to the toilet before leaving St. Arnaud. You will find public toilets in the Queen Mary Gardens.
After St Arnaud, the country little towns of Minyip and Dimboola have a bit of everyting; but I recommend to drive as much as you can after St Arnaud to beat the sun that you will find it in front of you after midday.
Along the way pay attention to the silos, some of them have amazing murals.
If you are not so keen for the adventure, or find my instructions a bit confusing, you can take Wimmera Hwy (B240) direction to Horsham.
This is the way that my husband used to go to Adelaide when he was living in Bendigo. From Horsham, then, you take the mentioned Western Hwy all the way to Adelaide.
Horsham is one of the biggest cities that you will find along the way, besides Bendigo and Albury. It is the capital of the Wimmera Region.
The best playgrounds are the one in the Horsham Botanical Gardens, Weir Park and May Park.
If you want to discover more, Horsham has lots of natural attractions nearby such as the Green Lake, the Grampians National Park and the Wartook Valley region.
The Pink Lake near Dimboola
This is a “bright” free attraction conveniently located by the highway. Be aware that the salt can be very sharp! However, you don’t really need to “disembark”, you can see the lake from the rest area.
Don’t miss this stop!!! Nhill has an amazing playground in Jaypex Park with a very easy trail that leads to a beautiful little lake. It is the perfect place to stretch the legs.
The playground has a long slide and lots of equipment. Our daughters didn’t want to leave. There is a petrol station around the corner. So, have a take-away coffee and relax meanwhile the children play. BBQ and toilet facilities are available, too.
Bordertown is less than three hours drive from Adelaide on the border between South Australia and Victoria. There are several country style cafés and bakeries.
The playground of Apex Park in the CBD is not as cool as the one from Nhill. But, still, it is a good place to stop if you need to have a stretch and a bite. It has public toilets, too.
Alternatively, Tolmer Park with a man-made lake, on the banks of Tatiara Creek, is a very convenient spot as it has beside a bakery. Or, if you have time, you might even consider visiting the Bordertown Wildlife Park.
99 Farquhar St, Bordertown SA 5268
Phone: 02 4845 1250
Bordertwon Bakery is a short stroll to Apex Park playground. The pies are very nice. The menu also offers burguers, wraps, focaccias, hot dogs and croissants. The bakery has a kids corner, too.
If you need to take a breath, you might prefer to do it with a view. Visitors Information area & Lookout above the Murray River near the Ferry Terminal has spectacular views.
In town, there is a good playground with several structures and a steam train engine. It is opposite to the Tailem Bend Bakery.
If you don’t want to stop too long, along the road, there are some eateries and fast food franchises to have a quick bite, too.
And, that’s it! You’re in Adelaide! There are so many lovely things to do and places to see in Adelaide. Check out this review about where to stay that contains a short list of places to see in the CBD.
Extra: Hay and Wagga-Wagga route as an alternative
If you decide to travel the back to Sydney via Hay, you might find more traffic (mostly trucks, as this is the shortest route and Hay is an important national transport hub). I don’t recommend stopping overnight only once. Therefore, I suggest taking it easier next day. Wagga Wagga is a good place to recharge batteries and to spend the night if you need it.
From Adelaide, you can also travel to Hay via Mildura, which adds 45 minutes. Although locals say that Adelaide – Mildura is quite nice, we have never chosen this route yet.
Hay is halfway, in the middle of nowhere. The Hay Plains is one of the flattest places on earth. It is not a secret that the Plains are boring, because of the nature of the barren landscape. However, we saw some kangaroos and emus. It added a bit of excitement, which was most than welcome.
In fact, the soil of the plains is quite rich. Where there used to be sheep, there are miles and miles of cotton plantations now. So, depending on the time of the year, you might be lucky and you might be able to see vast extensions covered on flowers.
Saltbush Motor Inn
193 Lachlan St, Hay NSW 2711
Phone: 02 6993 4555
The Saltbush located in the main street- has very spacious family rooms. And a swimming pool for the hot days, too. Tip: book ahead, this new motel is very popular.
Hay Bowling & Golf club
408 Murray St, Hay NSW 2711
Phone: 02 6993 1360
This is the perfect place to chill out after a long drive. The children would love the indoor playground area. The restaurant offers great Chinese meals including kids menu.
Like Albury, Wagga-Wagga is a great base for exploring the Riverina Region. There is plenty to see and do. But, if you don’t have much time left, the best recommendation is to visit the Wagga-Wagga Botanical Gardens.
Little el in Waga-Waga Botanical Gardens
MacLeay St, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650
Phone: 1300 292 442 or 0499 181 398
After the long stretch Adelaide-Hay, it is a must stop. The Little el café overlooks Kidsville Toddlers Play Area, a fenced playground. Also, the food was really nice.
Very close to the kiosk, there are some animal enclosures. And, a bit further, there is an adventure playground for older children.
Generally speaking, our daughters are good travellers; we are very lucky. Our eldest has already her own bucket list of places that she would like to visit. But, then she is the first one to complaint if the trip is too long. How ironic!
Have you got your own fave stops on this route to add to our list? Safe travels!
Other shorter NSW road trips: There are some great ideas!