I’ve spent the better part of the last couple of years travelling between Sydney and Melbourne. While I often fly between the two cities, there have many times that have required me to drive, so I’ve racked up my fair share of kilometres on the Hume Highway (M31) driving between the two.
In terms of intercity drives, the Hume Highway is the easiest one in Australia. It’s almost entirely motorway between Sydney and Melbourne making it a really straightforward drive.
In fact, once your on Sydney’s motorway network the speed limit only slows below 100km/h once around the La Trobe University campus at Wodonga.
It’s definitely not one of the most scenic road trips that Australia, but there is certainly no shortage of places to stop as well as things to see and do.
Once you factor in stops and traffic, particularly through the cities at either end of the trip, you’ll be looking at about 10-12 hours for the trip.
Without any diversions, Sydney CBD to Melbourne CBD its 877 kilometres.
The Hume Highway is a multilane highway, which is effectively a motorway the entire way. It is certainly the easiest city to city drives in Australia.
Once you merge onto the Hume Highway from the M5 or M7 it’s about 50km to the first fuel stop (7 Eleven at Pheasants Nest), then about another 70km to the next option (Shell at Sutton Forest). From there its roughly averages out to about 100km between fuel stops.
Yes, it’s about 10-12 hours in the car (depending on stops) taking the Hume Highway route, but it is a fairly easy drive.
In my years of experience, here is my collection of tips and favourite spots to stop along the Hume Highway when driving between Sydney and Melbourne.
Goulburn, NSW – The Big Merino
Roughly two hours drive south of Sydney, the Big Merino is the first “big thing” on the drive to Melbourne. Making it one of the more interesting stops along the way.
Take the second Goulburn exit off the Hume Hwy (heading southbound) to find the Big Merino at the Shell service (petrol) station and in close proximity to a couple of fast food outlets (McDonald’s, Olivers and Subway).
However, to get away from the regular road trip junk food procession there are a couple of nicer cafes in the same area. My personal recommendation is Trappers Bakery directly across the road from the Big Merino. The bakery is open from 5:30am and it’s a great place to get some breakfast and a coffee to get you started in the morning.
Inside the Big Merino, you’ll find the token souvenir shop as well as a history of wool production in the area which is interesting. You can also climb to the top of the Merino and look out the eyes, although that gift shop doesn’t open until more traditional business hours.
If you can’t make it that far, Suttons Forest has a Shell service station and McDonald’s about 50k’s closer to Sydney.
Gundagai, NSW – Dog on the Tucker Box
Approximately another 2 hours down the Hume Highway is another one of those token stops on the road to Melbourne.
The Dog on the Tucker Box has been an icon of the road trip since 1926. While it’s not in its original location, it’s now right next to the highway and a convenient stopping point midway through the trip.
There are a few historical buildings to explore and plenty of green space to walk around and stretch the legs. While next to the monument there’s a cafe and trinket shop for more souvenirs.
Just down from the monument is a more modern complex with a service station (another Shell) as well as a couple of fast-food restaurants (KFC, Subway and a couple of local vendors).
However, if you are looking for something nicer to eat, I’d actually recommend stopping just before Gundagai at a small town called Jugiong. A little drive off the Hume Highway you’ll find a tiny town with the Long Track Pantry for some of the best food between Sydney and Melbourne.
Just keep in mind that the Long Track Pantry is closed on Tuesday’s.
Holbrook, NSW – Submarine
Want to see something really unusual? How about a submarine parked in a field?
Just an hour further down the road is the small town of Holbrook, just off the Hume Highway, features a history of Australian Naval Submarining that you can find out all about. The HMAS Otway is a decommissioned Royal Australian Navy Submarine that had been destined for scrap metal. However, due to some ingenuity from Holbrook locals, you are now free to walk around and explore making it a good little detour off the Hume Highway.
The park also features a small museum and a few other Naval displays. An interesting stop to help break up the trip a little bit.
There is a cafe right beside the Otway which is a good place to get a coffee and a snack on the drive down. But if you are looking for the best custard tart and a really good coffee, then a bit further down the road through Holbrook is the Holbrook Bakery. They also have a second shop at the Caltex Service station near the second Hume Highway (heading southbound) exit to Holbrook.
Glenrowan, Victoria – Ned Kelly
Another one of the “big things” to see on the drive between Sydney and Melbourne is a special tribute to famous bushranger Ned Kelly.
About an hour and 30 minutes further down the Hume Highway, just south of Wangaratta, is Glenrowan a small town made famous for being the place where the Kelly Gang’s made their last stand.
If you’ve got some spare time, you can explore the historic sites that lead to the capture of one of Australia’s most notorious bushrangers. Otherwise, for a shortstop, the local post office has a gigantic statue in tribute to Ned Kelly.
You’ll also find an assortment of cafes and restaurants along the main road. As well as plenty of places to pick up Ned Kelly souvenirs.
From Glenrowan the next local place to stop to break up the trip is Seymour. However, I tend to just pull into one of the service stations along this section of the Hume Highway if I need a break. At this point in the trip, I tend to really look forward to arriving at my destination in Melbourne.
The drive along the Hume Highway is easy enough that you don’t need at having an overnight stop along the trip. It is honestly the easiest city to city road trip in Australia now that it is all multi-lane highway from the M7 in Sydney all the way to the M2/M80 in Melbourne.
That wraps up my picks for the best places to stop along the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne. Have driven along the Hume Highway before? Have your own suggestions on good places to stop? Let me know with a comment below.
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