Victoria has some beautiful and historic towns off the beaten track which need to be on every Victoria road trip itinerary. Victoria is easily accessible from anywhere in Australia thanks to the airport in Melbourne which has flights everyday from Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney and the Sunshine Coast. If you are flying in, hiring a car from the airport is cheap and easy and gives you the freedom to explore this wonderful state.
Shepparton is, in every way, a thriving regional city. With its abundance of parks and gardens, it is hard to resist the temptation to stroll or cycle around the tracks. Find a spot by Victoria Park Lake and enjoy a family picnic in fresh air and peaceful surrounds.
The Shepparton Art Gallery is one of regional Victoria’s finest. It showcases paintings, sketches and an internationally recognised ceramics collection. It is complemented by many small galleries, art and craft shops and pottery studios, all of which offer tempting wares to the discerning buyer.
In fact, Shepparton is a shopper’s delight with its arcades, innovative streetscape and mall, providing a relaxing atmosphere for a leisurely browse. You’ll find shopping in more than 400 retail venues a pleasure.
Shepparton’s state-of-the-art aquatic centre is a healthy and fun way to spend a day with several pools, waterslide, spas, sauna and more. Emerald Bank Heritage Farm will keep you entertained for hours. Visit the working dairy, meet some rare breeds of domestic animals or take a wagon ride. You can also test your skills on the nearby Riverside Gardens minigolf course.
The Greater Shepparton region includes Tatura with its wartime history, Dookie with its broad acre farming, Mooroopna with its modern theatre complex, and Murchison with its tranquil riverbank. All of these towns contribute to the total holiday experience.
Echuca is one of Victoria’s oldest river towns. Ex-convict Henry Hopwood founded Echuca in 1863. The town flourished as a river port until the railway came to town. By the 1900’s, relatively few boats plied the rivers.
These days, riverboats carry tourists instead of wool, and wooden boat hulls and venerable steam-powered machinery survive from an era when the Murray-Darling River system was a vital transport artery for the growing colonies of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.
High Street boasts many 150-year-old two-storey shops and pubs rescued from the redeveloper’s jackhammer. With broad corrugated-iron verandahs, ornate facades and turned supporting posts, the buildings evoke images of the town’s heritage.
In 1879 the brothel was operated from nearby Murray Hotel, which still stands on Murray Esplanade. Honky-tonk music and decadence were said to be the order of the day, however licensee Mrs Ann Syke had to defend herself in 1897 against charges of running an immoral house.
High Street shopkeepers and publicans today have retained the age-old values of serving weary travellers with good food and drink. When you stroll past coffee shops and patisseries a little indulgence is hard to resist.
Many of Echuca’s buildings are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, including:
- Echuca Courthouse (1876)
- Police Station (1867)
- the old town hall
- Hopwood Hotel
- The customs house
The township of Yea is situated in a beautiful valley at the intersection of the Yea and Golburn rivers. Yea is the centre of a grazing, dairying and wool-growing district. Getting here is a treat, because the Melba Highway takes you not only past Yarra Glen’s Sunday market and the restored tourist railway, but it passes some of the Yarra Valley’s award-winning wineries and restaurants.
Hume and Hovell’s expedition of 1824-5 revealed the rich potential of what is now Victoria, in particular opening the way for settlement of the Goulburn Valley and the district of Yea. They were the first Europeans to set eyes upon the rich lands around the confluence of the Goulburn and Yea Rivers
The growing town was first treated to the name of Muddy Creek until 1855, when this was changed to honour Lacy Walter Yea, Officer in Charge of the Regiment. Colonel Yea was killed in action during the Crimean War, but his portrait still hangs in the Tower of London collection.
In Autumn, Yea is resplendent with red, yellow and burnt orange leaves-the magnificent Claret Ash plantation on the lawns in Yea’s main street.
Most prominent amongst the early architecture on High Street is the impressive Shire Hall, built in 1894. If you intend upon a walking tour, recharge the batteries with lunch at a fine old pub, a café, or the revamped and popular Purcell’s General Store, built in 1887.
Kyabram, just an easy thirty-minute drive from Echuca or Shepparton, has much to entertain. Judged Victoria’s Premier Town in 1991, the town is the main centre in the Western Goulburn Valley.
Tree shaded streets with plenty of parking, house a vibrant shopping centre. Take your pick of the variety of cafes, restaurants, supermarkets and food outlets. Why not visit the Kyabram Club, open from 11:00 am daily with meals, entertainment and gaming facilities. You can also relax in luxurious or budget accommodation at caravan parks, hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and motels, the Country Roads among them. Also browse through the variety of gift and craft shops.
Kyabram’s sporting venues are unparalleled with golf, bowling and croquet clubs, netball, basketball, tennis and squash courts, indoor and outdoor pools and an impressive sports centre.
Of course you won’t want to leave without visiting the famous Fauna Park. Officially opened in 1975, the park has earned an enviable reputation, winning nine environmental tourism awards in the past decade. There are 100 different species of Australian birds, animals and reptiles, personally dropping in for some R and R. Kangaroos, emus, wallabies and birds roam at will through the landscaped parklands, a show case for native flora as well as fauna. The Australian native trees and shrubs provide habitat shelter and arrest land degradation. Everyone will enjoy a day at the park, visiting the walk-through aviaries, reptile house, watching the birds from the hide, the tower or through floor to ceiling one way glass in the air-conditioned water fowl area.