This major regional centre on the Murray River sits on the state border opposite its Victorian twin, Wodonga. It's a good launchpad for trips to the snowfields and high country of both Victoria and NSW and for exploring the upper Murray River. It's also a good spot to break the journey between Sydney and Melbourne.
Rutherglen combines some marvellous gold-rush-era buildings (gold was discovered here in 1860) with northern Victoria's most celebrated winemaking tradition. The town itself has all the essential ingredients that merit a stopover, among them a great pie shop, antique dealers and a labyrinthine secondhand bookshop.
Cowra is a surprising town with a unique story. In August 1944 more than 1000 Japanese prisoners attempted to break out of a prisoner-of-war camp here (231 of them died, along with four Australians). Since the war Cowra has aligned itself with Japan and the causes of reconciliation and world peace.
Deniliquin & Around
A quintessential inland Australian town, Deniliquin, or 'Deni' as it's known, lies along a wide bend of the Edwards River. Here you'll find an attractive river beach and some appealing riverside walks amid the red gums. There's also a famed and ever-growing festival dedicated to that curious Aussie obsession, the ute.
The colonial river-port of Wentworth, at the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers, is a smaller, quieter sibling to the regional centre of Mildura, 30km away across the border in Victoria. It's a sweetly subdued place with scenic riverbanks and a handful of historic buildings.
On the Murrumbidgee River, Gundagai is around halfway between Sydney and Melbourne. There's a good riverside campground and motels, but the best place to stay is Hillview Farmstay on a 1000-acre farm around 34km to the south. Gold rushes and bushrangers were part of Gundagai's colourful early history.
Yass & Around
Laced with heritage buildings and sleepy corner pubs, Yass is atmospheric and quiet (thanks to the highway bypass). Yass Valley Visitor Centre is in Coronation Park. The adjacent Yass & District Museum has a model of the town in the 1890s. The 1835 Cooma Cottage is on the Yass Valley Way on the Sydney side of town.
A short drive northeast of Rutherglen on the Murray River is the quiet little township of Wahgunyah. At the height of the riverboat era, Wahgunyah was a thriving port town and trade depot. Now, wineries surround it, and historic Corowa is just across the bridge in NSW. Visit the Cofield winery for tastings and a meal in the excellent Pickled Sisters Café.