Howdy all! Well I’ve shared the different spots I visited on my recent (ish) road trip from Melbourne to the Buchan Caves/Nowa Nowa, to Merimbula, to Mount Kosciusko and then home. Today I wanted to write more about the actual driving experience and sum everything up, because a major part of the trip was driving.
Drive One – Melbourne to Nowa Nowa, 318km
So we started off on a Wednesday morning to drive first to Nowa Nowa. It’s a small town in the countryside really, it has a lake which appears to be its biggest draw and also not far from a gorge and this amazing trestle bridge which is not in as good a condition as the one near Noojee, but is still really impressive.
The drive was a solid four hours to Nowa Nowa, where we checked in to a very quiet motel there (and creepy, review/story of that stay is still coming!) and I pushed on the Buchan Caves just in time for my 3pm tour. The drive was actually pretty good, occasional road works slowed us down but the whole country is enduring road works at the moment it seems. It wasn’t too bad getting out of Melbourne, the Monash Freeway is the main road out in the easterly direction and can be frustrating with excess traffic and road works. There wasn’t too much traffic though and once you are out properly from Melbourne it’s a good drive. Read about my brief stay in Nowa Nowa HERE.
We took a bit of a risk cutting through on sealed, but not major roads at some point to get to Nowa Nowa. We were probably slightly lost at one point, Google Maps are never 100% but eventually we got onto the right road. The roads out there in the last hour were very windy, but almost no traffic and through green farmland and bushland too, so it was actually a very attractive drive.
The Buchan Caves were definitely worthwhile and you can read about them HERE
Drive Two – Nowa Nowa to Merimbula, 246km
After checking out the bridge, gorge and lake in Nowa Nowa, the second day saw us drive a little under 300km to Merimbula, the main spot on the road trip where we would stay four nights in a very comfortable apartment on like four or five levels.
Driving wise I was heading into unfamiliar territory. I had filled up the tank in Lakes Entrance, where petrol prices were remarkably 10 – 15 cents a litre cheaper than they were in Melbourne. Our timing couldn’t have been worse for a road trip, prices hit $2.21 a litre in Melbourne, the highest I can remember, just before we left. Usually I would expect prices in the countryside to be dearer than Melbourne, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.
This took us to almost the very east of Victoria, not far from Mallacoota, into one of the least populated parts of the state. The drive was again green – we had a humid and pretty wet summer, however we did see a lot of damage from the 2019-20 bush fires. We stopped in a charming little town called Cann River for lunch where they had this amazing antique shop attached to the main café.
Not long after picking up and continuing, we passed the border with New South Wales. There were a bunch of signs telling us rules about being in New South Wales, however it wasn’t for ten minutes or more after we passed the border that we finally found the ‘Welcome to New South Wales’ sign!
We went through the town of Eden, a bigger town than Merimbula, where there were some surpisingly low speed limits for roads in unbuilt up areas, and I found myself doing 80 kph in a 60 kph zone when I caught up to vehicles sticking to 60kph. I spent much time worrying about whether there were cameras out in that area, but it’s been nearly two months so I guess I am okay. It just was a really odd place to be limited to 60kph.
Merimbula is a reasonable size for a town, but it turned out to be limited in terms of shops and restaurants. But it was a great getaway for four nights, much relaxing was needed and indeed had.
Read more on Merimbula HERE.
Drive Three – Merimbula to Thredbo, 203km
The final stop on the journey was at Thredbo, the town adjoining Mt Kosciusko where people start their journey up Australia’s highest mountain. This drive started with me missing a turn off and adding 30 minutes or a little less to the journey. Still utterly amazed by the beauty of this region, green everywhere. Hilly and windy, got stuck behind a few vehicles going 20 – 30 kmph under the speed limit at times, but didn’t really hold us back.
Then we hit a mountain range, we went up, it got cold, we came down, it warmed up. We pressed on, and were soon climbing again to Thredbo which is at around 1700 metres. At Thredbo needed to top up the petrol for the next day, and was blown away at the $2.77 a litre price for standard unleaded. Needless to say I just put in $20 and planned to fill up again at the soonest but best opportunity.
Read about the hike up Australia’s Highest Peak HERE.
Drive Four – Thredbo to Home, 566km
So, the final drive of the trip was the longest taking around eight hours. Thredbo and Kosciusko had meant hiking, which meant my wife and I were mega sore on this day. We hadn’t made firm plans to make it home on the this day, we did plan to stop in Wangaratta for the night, but we have come accustomed to just pushing on when it’s time to come home and so the trip was a six instead of seven-night trip.
Even as we left Thredbo with our extremely expensive petrol in the car, I was 50/50 on whether we would stop somewhere for the night, and decided I would just see how I felt. If I was feeling too tired I was happy to break the trip. But that’s not what happened in the end.
Anyways, the most exciting driving was the first hour of this journey. Just getting out of Thredbo involved winding up through the village to the main highway at the top, and then we descended down the windiest road of the trip for an hour or more. There was a lot of breaking, speeds of 60 kph were rarely reached, and sooner or later you just dream of a straight stretch of road!
Eventually they came though, we crossed a dam or something, and made it to the town of Khancoban, not far from the Victorian border. After a quick stop there, we were soon crossing the Murray River and back in my home state! The drive around Lake Hume was magnificent, navigation was a little tricky as the roads here connecting westward are not all main roads and it was hard to know if we were heading the right way to Wangaratta. In fact, we were able to join the Hume Freeway just as we were hitting the outskirts of Wangaratta, so avoided what would have been the biggest town we’d seen since leaving Melbourne.
Once we hit the freeway, well, we were three hours from home and so it was full steam ahead. We took a turn off the freeway to a country road at Benalla. This allowed us to avoid the city on the way home, and instead we would hit the north-eastern suburbs and join the East Link Tollway. According to Google this was around 20 minutes longer, but I actually think going through the city always takes longer that Googles predicts and we would have hit it at around 5pm, peak time!
This route also was one I hadn’t taken and again, very pretty – the Freeway all the way to the city takes you through dry and dull land on the most part.
And we were home in time for dinner! It had been quite the ride, and a great little road trip! Thanks for joining me today – May the Journey Never End!