Great Alpine Road Visitor Guide

GREAT ALPINE ROAD VISITOR GUIDE | PAGE 5 ALBURY/WODONGA Two towns. One feature-packed region. Popular NSW border town, Albury, took out the top spot in Wotif's 2023 Aussie Town of the Year Awards. Basing its selection on a data index that looks at "accommodation affordability, quality, and traveller satisfaction", the holiday-booking website said Albury was a "no-brainer" to land in first place, writing: "Perfectly situated at the foot of the Aussie Alps and on the banks of the Mighty Murray River, Albury is a top pick for foodies, nature lovers and adventure fans. With incredible outdoor experiences, awesome wineries and bars, excellent restaurants, and some of the best galleries, museums, theatres and festivals around, it's a must-visit." Twin cities Separated by the Murray River, Albury – and its Victorian neighbour Wodonga – both offer a charming mix of heritage buildings, vibrant shopping precincts, stacks of sporting options and engaging cultural events. With so much on offer, it is certainly worth setting aside a few days to explore the area. Known collectively as the 'twin cities', both towns feature beautiful parklands, with the jewel in the crown being the Albury Botanic Gardens, first established in the centre of Albury back in 1877. The gentle flowing river tempts you to take time out to sit on its broad banks, under a beautiful old tree. This is a region where you'll also find regular community events, markets and weekend gatherings. Water-based fun Together with the Lake Hume Dam (the largest dam in the southern hemisphere), the local river systems and waterways of the Albury Wodonga region are popular for all sorts of water sports and activities, including sailing, jet-skiing, waterskiing, kayaking, windsurfing, and of course, fishing. In fact, the area is renowned for excellent freshwater fishing, and there are many beautiful, secluded tree-lined fishing spots all along the Murray River, as well as popular angling spots at Mungabareena and Heywoods Bridge, where the catch often includes yellowbelly (golden perch), trout, freshwater crayfish, and Murray cod. Many of the foreshore reserves feature BBQ and picnic facilities. Art, culture and history Albury Wodonga has a strong food and arts culture, and a wonderful connection to the area's history and indigenous heritage. Be sure to drop into the local information centres for advice and printed guides to some of the significant sites. The twin cities are large enough to provide a variety of holiday attractions and entertainment, yet small enough to provide enjoyable exploration by foot or bike. There are numerous paths in and around the townships, including over the river and back. Walking or cycling around is an ideal way to appreciate the distinctive character of the towns' grand old buildings, richly established gardens and broad, tree-lined streets. For those who cherish their daily caffeine hit there is café after café to discover. Dean Street in Albury is a great place to start a café hop. Watch for the welcoming coffee shops that are often hidden up little lanes and alleys. The twin cities are also known for great pubs, clubs and restaurants that often feature fresh regional produce. Albury's Dean Street – and High Street in Wodonga – are serious shopping precincts, and you'll find no less than five large shopping centres with dozens of retail outlets. Albury Wodonga residents are also very serious about their performance arts culture. It is the birthplace of Australia's world-famous Flying Fruit Fly Circus, and it's also home to the highly regarded Hothouse Theatre. Many national and international performers receive an enthusiastic welcome at the Albury Entertainment Centre. The visual arts have impressive homes at the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA), Arts Space Wodonga and other local galleries. Wagirra Trail and Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk Hire a bike or lace up your walking shoes to explore the Murray River pathway, a 15-kilometre (return) trail that links the Wonga Wetlands with the South Albury Trail through blissful riverside parks among soaring red gums. There are plenty of places to stop for a picnic or enjoy the view. Above all, make a beeline for the five-kilometre Yindyamurra Sculpture Walk, between Kremur Street and the Wonga Wetlands. Here, 15 sculptures crafted by Aboriginal artists tell age-old First Nations stories through contemporary art. Each sculpture comes with an interpretative sign revealing its significance. You can also unlock additional videos on the sculptures via your smartphone. Be sure to pause at Michael Quinn's 'Family Gathering', a sculpture symbolising the importance of family unity and indigenous connection to the land, and Ruth Davys' 'Bogong Moth Migration', an installation revealing how Aboriginal communities would feast on these winged delicacies. There's also Tamara Murray's larger-thanlife stainless-steel 'Reconciliation Shield', Kianna Edwards' steel and concrete 'Goanna', and the 'Maya Fish Trap' sculpture, created by Uncle Ken (Tunny) Murray, Darren Wighton and Andom Rendell. For more information on the many attractions of Albury Wodonga, go to The ‘Maya Fish Trap’ sculpture is one of 15 sculptures on the Yindyamurra Sculpture Walk in West Albury – all crafted by First Nations artists. Photo: Destination NSW Albury Wodonga has a number of excellent galleries, including the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) – pictured here. Photo: Destination NSW