Melbourne -Brisbane via
Hume, Goulburn Valley and Newell Highways
Total distance - 1,718 km
All distances measured from Melbourne
This is the most direct route from Victoria to Queensland and, because of this, it is the road used by lots of heavy transport and you will meet plenty of huge trucks during the trip.
The journey starts by leaving Melbourne in the same direction as people heading for Sydney. The easiest way to get on to the Hume Highway (Hwy. 31) coming from Melbourne's southern or south-eastern suburbs is to continue onto the CityLink from the Monash Freeway, follow the airport signs after the Domain Tunnel to continue on the CityLink to the Western Ring Road just after Essendon Airport (not as far as Tullamarine) and then look out for the Sydney signs at Campbellfield. You will need a DayPass to travel on CityLink and you can buy one at most Post Offices, some service stations and from the CityLink Service Centres.
Sydney Road through Brunswick and Coburg becomes Highway 31 but both these suburbs are very congested and are best avoided - particularly if towing. Freeway conditions start from Craigieburn and the turnoff left to the Goulburn Valley Highway (Hwy 39) comes just after Seymour.
Wine-lovers will be quick to notice the signs pointing to the Mitchelton and Chateau Tahbilk wineries on the way to Nagambie (133km). Mitchelton has a lookout tower and facilities for lunch if you happen to be in the area at the right time and you can soak up a bit of history at Tahbilk while you taste their fine range of wines. There is a nice lake at Nagambie where you can take your picnic lunch and sit overlooking the water.
The highway runs right through the city of Shepparton (179 km) but there is a well sign-posted bypass that can save quite a bit of time by avoiding the busy shopping area. 'Shepp' is a thriving centre at the hub of a rich fruit growing district and the factory outlets of SPC in the town and Ardmona in ajoining Mooroopna are great places for re-stocking depleted larders.
It's not too far from here to the NSW border but if you're taking a leisurely journey, you might fancy calling in at Monichinos Winery at Katunga where Carlos and his family have built a tradition of warm hospitality.
Before leaving Victoria we turn right at Strathmerton and a short drive along the Murray Valley Highway takes us to the turn off to cross the Murray into Tocumwal (258 km) - first town we come to in NSW.
We are now in the Riverina and the countyside has become very flat as we pass through the Riverina towns of Finlay (279 km), Jerilderie (314 km), and Narrandara (403 km) that straddle the highway.
The thriving town of West Wyalong (542 km) can be by-passed by following the signs for 'Heavy Vehicles' but it is a good place for an overnight break as there are good facilities for travellers. Just before the main street you can see an old DC3 Dakota on the left outside the caravan park. The highway north can be flooded after very heavy rain and the road surface often can be a bit rough.
Some kilometres after leaving Forbes (648 km) keep a good lookout to the right to see the huge dish for the Parkes Radio Telescope. It's only a short drive off the highway to go down and have a closer look at the complex and see, among other things, the efforts made to monitor and identify radio signals floating around in space.
Parkes (681 km) and Peak Hill (730 km) are the next places we come to on our way to Dubbo (856 km) - the main centre of 'The Golden West'. Probably the best known thing about Dubbo is the Western Plains Zoo on the right as you approach the town. Here they have tried to make the surroundings for the animals as close to their natural habital as possible and the zoo stretches over a large area. You can by-pass the centre of town by following the 'Heavy Vehicle' signs but there are plenty of attractions to entice you to stay awhile in the area.
After Gilgandra (921 km) the majestic Warumbungles start to appear on the left and a detour into the National Park is a great experience if you have a couple of days to spare and want to relax and camp in beautiful natural surroundings. There are a number of graded walking tracks and wildlife abounds.
Before Coonabarabran (1015 km) if you are alert you can catch a glimpse of the dome of the Sidings Springs Observatory peeping above the horizon. This is hilly country and people towing heavy units will need to keep an eye on their coolant temperatures and also save their brakes by using lower gears on some of the steeper downhill runs.
Soon after climbing the hill to leave Coonabarabran, the Newell Highway turns left at the juction with the Oxley Highway (Hwy 34) and continues through the Piliga Scrub to reach Narrabri (1134 km). There plenty of rest areas for a picnic or cuppa along this stretch of road.
We leave the hills behind now as we head for Moree (1233 km) and cross the border into Queensland at Goondawindi (1356 km). This was the home of famous Melbourne Cup winner Gunsynd and his statue can be seen in the park on the banks of the MacIntyre River. We are in cotton growing country now and before reaching the border we probably noticed a lot of 'cotton wool' on the roadsides and saw tarpaulin covered bales of cotton stacked in the paddocks.
If we want to continue travelling north without going back to the coast we could turn off here for Toowoomba but otherwise we continue along the Cunningham Highway (Hwy 42) to Warwick (1555 km) . This road can be subject to flooding after heavy rains. At Warwick the New England Highway joins the Cunningham and the route number changes to Hwy 15 and this will take us to our to journey's end via the twisty and scenic Cunningham's Gap through the Great Divide. There are several places to stop and admire the magnificent views on the way down the range .
From Ipswich, motorway conditions ease the congestion caused by the heavy traffic as we near Queensland's Capital and a well sign-posted exit on the right would put us on the Logan Motorway - a toll road to the Gold Coast which also links to the Gateway Motorway as the quickest way to the Sunshine Coast and all points North.