Often over-shadowed by its NSW counterpart, Wodonga and its surrounds are an absolute day-trip must with a lot to offer! With a population of over 35,000 people, Wodonga sits on the Victorian side of the Murray River. Whether you stay in town or nearby, there’s a lot to do and see – if you’re willing to drive a little bit of the way!
We stayed in Albury (which you can read more about HERE) and decided to hit the road to head to Wodonga for the day. Crossing the Murray River and the NSW/Victorian border, the first thing you come is Gateway Village (Lincoln Causeway). Gateway Village has a lot to offer including shops, crafts, cultural heritage activities and discoveries, nature walks, picturesque views and picnic spots. Have lunch at La Maison Café; catch a show at The Butter Factory Theatre; view the public art around the village and its galleries (including Creators’ Artspace, GIGS Fine Art Gallery and the Woodcrafters Cottage) or more! The Hume Murray Farmers’ Market runs here every second Saturday and is popular with locals and tourists alike.
The first thing you notice when you get to the city centre is Wodonga’s iconic water tower. Built in 1923, the water tower ceased around 1971, and is now home to a shoe repair shop – which is a little disappointing, but still pretty cool to take photos in front of. If you’re around at night, the water tower illuminates and change colours to complement the nearby, artistic Woodland Grove.
Over the road is The Cube Wodonga performing arts theatre and Arts Space Wodonga (160 Lawrence St). They were between exhibits when we visited so instead they had set up a White Wonderland pop-up space for children and families. The friendly staff encouraged us, all visitors large and small, to play with pipe cleaners, cotton wool balls, paper doilies, Styrofoam – and all things white to create sculptures to put on display.
Next up, we drove up the winding drive to the lookout at Huon Hill Parklands. Providing panoramic views of Albury, Wodonga, the countryside, the river and even the snowfields; the trek to the top is quite steep, but the drive itself provides adequate views if you prefer to stay in the car. You’ll probably spot a kangaroo, cow or two along the way up as well!
The largest and most diversified Military Museum in Australia, the Army Museum Bandiana (Anderson Rd, South Bandiana) is nearby and a great option if that’s of interest to you. With limited time, we were recommended the Bonegilla Migrant Experience (82 Bonegilla Rd) instead, so that’s where we went but either is good.
Block 19 Bonegilla is the last remaining block of more than 24 blocks that made up the Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre, which received and trained migrants to Australia following World War II. It’s free to look around and us an interesting cultural shock to see how these people lived. Our guide, Wendy was passionate and informative, but with numerous displays, photos, audio, video and activities – there’s plenty to do and see on your own if you choose. It was interesting to learn that one in 20 Australians have a relative who spent time there.
It was next onto the Hume Dam (3 Little Mitta St, Lake Hume Village). Formerly the Hume Weir, the dam’s purpose includes flood mitigation, hydro-power, irrigation, water supply and conservation. It took 17 years to construct and has twenty-nine vertical undershot gates capable of discharging 7,929 cubic metres per second. Made mostly of concrete and sitting at 51 metres high – it’s a marvel to see and easy accessibility makes it a popular place to visit.
Continue north for a further 20 minute drive for a stop at the iconic Ettamogah Pub (561 Burma Rd, Table Top). Open 7 days a week for food and drinks, with weekly live music, pool tables and a newly-renovated arcade room with a jumping castle and rock climbing wall – providing a unique and enjoyable environment for all. Even if you don’t have to use the bathroom – make sure you check them out for a true outback “dunny” experience … you’ll see what I mean!
From there, it’s a 15 minute drive back to Albury, or a 20 minute drive back to Wodonga.
For more details about the attractions mentioned, head to their official websites:
The Cube Wodonga: thecubewodonga.com.au
Army Museum Bandiana: alburywodongaaustralia.com.au
Bonegilla Migrant Experience: bonegilla.org.au
Hume Dam: waternsw.com.au/supply/visit/hume-dam
Ettamogah Pub: ettamogahhotel.com.au
The author visited Albury and Wodonga as a guest of Destination NSW, and spent a night at Atura courtesy of the Atura hotel. We flew with Rex Regional Express. Photos by the author on the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100.