Across this diverse region, the Southern Highlands, just south of Sydney, offers the chance for weekend getaways packed with good eating and stylish accommodation.
The 900km-long Hume Hwy is the most direct route between Sydney and Melbourne, but it's worth detouring off the main road to explore historic inland NSW towns like Goulburn, Yass and Gundagai. All are enshrined in Australian folklore and national identity, and most have a claim to some kind of fame, be it bushrangers, drought, rich grazing land or old money.
Northwest of the Hume, the land flattens out, becoming incrementally redder and drier. The Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers defining the Riverina district offer respite in a harsh landscape, with irrigation harnessed for agriculture, and a growing food-tourism scene around Griffith's Italian heritage. Increasingly cosmopolitan regional centres like Wagga Wagga and Albury combine fine museums and art galleries with good eating and drinking.