The drive, accommodation and what to do in Shepparton
If you are looking for a real change of scenery from the buzzing Sydney city, Shepparton would make a great getaway. A leisurely ten-hour drive from Sydney, this rural region of Victoria is reachable within a day. With fun places to stop at along the way, the holiday begins from the moment you hit the highway.
The drive to Shepparton can be divvied up with stops in some lovely country spots and even at a few of tourist attractions. The places we stopped at are popular among passersby. Here's a list of where and why:
Having left Sydney a little before sunrise, we were certainly ready for coffee and a proper brekkie by the time we'd reached the quaint town of Gunning (after two and a half hours, and 244 kilometres of driving). An early departure is a good idea to avoid the morning rush and of course, to be able to put your feet up in Shepp even sooner.
The cute Merino Cafe (62, Yass St) in Gunning is a perfect pitstop. This feed - inclusive of a tasty bacon and egg roll - with the coffee that came in polka-dot mugs perked us up well. This street is nice for a stroll to stretch your legs too, with a farmer's fruit market and a variety of stores to check out.
2. The Great Merino in Goulbourn
A different route and about two hours (196 kilometres) from Sydney, you may also stop at Goulburn. This is home to The Great Merino that stands tall near the town's southern exit. Say hi to this unique Aussie attraction, pop into the gift shop, and grab some Maccas with a view of rolling hills and countryside just next door.
3. Dog on the Tuckerbox in Gundagai
The Dog on the Tuckerbox (37 Annie Pyers Dr, Gundagai) is a historical stonemason monument and Australian tourist attraction established back in 1928. It sits in the place that is home to the folklore of the loyal dog that guarded a man's lunchbox everyday until death.
Enjoy the site as you recuperate from driving. With the nearby service station, food outlet, and souvenir stores this is a nice place to wind-down at for a while.
4. HMAS submarine at Holbrook
A HMAS Submarine in the middle of the countryside around Holbrook? You read right. Visit this monument and museum - located at 15 Wallace St, Holbrook NSW - and discover the story behind how this First World War submarine came to live here.
With guided-tours, submarine and war memorabilia, and of course, a neighbouring cafe, this place is another fun stop along the drive to Shepp. For more info visit this site.
I stayed with some family friends whilst in the area earlier this year, however if you are looking into accommodation options in the area, here are some ideas.
1. Best Western Plus - The Carrington
A modern hotel in the heart of Shepparton (complete with a pool), the Best Western is a convenient, and comfortable stay. Rates start from $300 per night.
2. Big 4 - Shepparton East Holiday Park
For a more budget-friendly option, you can stay at this peaceful caravan and camping park. The Big 4 rates start from $35-45 (depending on season) for two adults per night in powered grass sites. The park is equipped with an amenities block and other important creature comforts.
3. Victoria Lake Holiday Park
Enjoy waking up to the serene parklands and the Goulbourn river at Victoria Lake Holiday Park. You'll have cabins as well as powered and unpowered-sites for caravans to choose from. Unpowered sites start from $27-33 per night.
What to do in and around Shepparton?
Once in the area, what is there to see and do? Here is a list of places and activities that you can add to your Shepparton itinerary.
1. Visit Victoria Lake
Just south of Shepparton town-centre is this swamp turned shimmering blue lake. With surrounding parkland perfect for a picnic, and walking and biking trails along the perimeter of the lake, there is plenty of daytime leisure to be had here.
There are cultural attractions to be seen around the main town. On Wellsford Street you will find an art gallery showcasing Australian paintings and ceramics, a war memorial, and Shepparton Heritage centre for those with an interest in tracing the area's history.
Visiting the CBD is also ideal for those who like to wine, dine, and shop when away. With pubs, restaurants such as the Teller Collective, and shopping plazas, Shepp is abundant with places for leisurely meals and retail therapy.
3. Go strawberry picking
Not far from the CBD sits Belstack Strawberry Farm. Grab a container and head out amongst the isles of strawberry bushes. Picking fruit is rather therapeutic and leaves you with the reward of fresh, sweet fruit to take away - for $12 per kilogram.
Filling up boxes of fresh strawberries in the balmy Shepparton sun.
Before leaving, why not grab refreshments from the tearoom? Or one of the famous strawberry sundaes? There is also mini-golf, some picnic spots, and llamas to say hello to on the property.
4. Chocolate-Apple factory
Also close to Shepp city-centre is a factory specialising in combining two tasty foods of the world - fresh, juicy apples and chocolate. With various combinations of apple, chocolate, and other toppings, there is much to be enjoyed. Also check out the other gourmet products produced by the family that owns the factory and surrounding orchards. For more, check out this article.
5. Visit Echuca and take a cruise on the Murray River
Around an hour's drive from Shepp (via Echuca Rd and Murray Valley Hwy) is this town that has preserved the bygone era of paddle-steamers, woodturners, horse-drawn carts, and blacksmiths. Explore this piece of the past, collect souvenirs, and enjoy either a lunchtime or nighttime cruise upon the famous Murray River that runs between Victoria and New South Wales.
A pleasant 40 minutes drive from Shepparton are the sprawling, sparkling Nagambie lakes. Along the drive you'll be treated to beautiful scenery such as this unique bridge that cuts through the lakes that were formed by the damming of the Goulburn River.
Take a walk or a bike around the lakes. Alternatively, hire a canoe or boat and enjoy a cruise upon the waters. If you are in Nagambie town-centre, perhaps you can enjoy a wine and dine with the blue backdrop of the lakes.
Enjoy bite and a beer at a pub over looking the Nagambie Lakes.
Whether you do all of the above, or nothing but sit back in a hammock by the pool - especially in summer when the area is often shrouded in 30 to 40 degree heat - a beautiful holiday awaits you in this picturesque part of the Victorian countryside. The area is ideal for those traveling with friends, families, partners, children, and even pets.
Chilling out by the pool in the middle of the Shepp area on Australia Day this year. Some days, nothing beats this!