The thriving NSW twin cities of Albury and Wodonga are double the fun as you discover cosy cafés, ritzy restaurants, a buoyant artistic hub, lots of heritage charm and the great outdoors.
Albury and Wodonga: a destination in its own right
These cities have come of age. Gone are the days of being just a stopover on a well-worn route from Sydney or Melbourne – there’s just so much more to entice visitors to stay longer.
Straddling the meandering Murray River and the New South Wales-Victorian border, Albury and Wodonga is a great place to visit no matter what season, with crisp nights in autumn and winter, and long stretches of blue skies in spring and summer.
© Wmedia CASA
As temperatures rise join the locals for a ‘float’ down the Murray, where you will find the water refreshing even on the hottest of days. Kayaking and canoeing are popular, and if you’re a keen angler – toss in a line. For all water sports head to Lake Hume. A 15-minute drive from the CBD, it’s an aquatic wonderland for boating, yachting, paddle boarding, fishing and water-skiing. You can also walk over the dam wall and take great photos.
A short 10-minute drive west of Albury is the Wonga Wetlands, an ecosystem of artificial lagoons and billabongs. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise with six bird hides and more than 155 identified species calling it home. There are extensive walking and cycling trails in and around both cities. The Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk is a great trail, covering five kilometres and showcasing 11 significant sculptural works by local Aboriginal artists.
Bars and restaurants in Wodonga
David Kapay moved from the big smoke to establish Miss Amelie in Wodonga three years ago. Housed in the former Wodonga Railway precinct, he does a modern take on European classics and his lemon soufflé is legendary. “Albury and Wodonga has so much going for it, it’s a great place to live and work and people love great food,” David says.
Nearby Bean Station boasts an industrial vibe and a wine bar as well as being great for coffee and casual meals. For the best street food head to Andiamo, which calls a shipping container home – expect fabulous treats from this quirky bolthole.
Cafés and restaurants in Wodonga
Across the river in Albury, surrounded by huge shade trees, River Deck Café is located in a beautiful setting on the banks of the Murray in Noreuil Park. Owner Alex Smit and chef Ludo Baulacky offer a cosmopolitan menu using fresh local produce where possible.
Recent newcomers to the dining scene include Albury’s Nannini Ristorante & Pizzeria, which serves Italian favourites. Love hamburgers? Frankies is a small neighbourhood shop serving simple burgers made from scratch.
For a sweet treat Geoffrey Michael Patissier tempts all with a variety of fabulous cakes and desserts. You can also learn the secrets to great baking in his popular cooking classes.
Bistro Selle, with Matthew Fuller and Tara Davis at the helm, offers contemporary European-style fare. Pop into Canvas Eatery at the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) for coffee and casual dining. The Proprietor is housed in one of Albury’s oldest buildings and serves modern cuisine while Ebden & Olive provides perfect picnic creations and nearby Nord Bakery makes delicious Scandi bread and pastries.
After a coffee hit? Try Early Bird Café, which also stocks Adele and Dale homemade produce including chutneys, jams and muesli. Piccolo Pod and The Brothers Cup will please coffee lovers, and for a late-night tipple try the eclectic Two Fingers Gentlemen’s Barber and Bar.
Matt and Karen Daly have established Posh Plonk at Bethanga, offering an immersive cellar door experience complete with panoramic views over Lake Hume, the weir wall and beyond.
© Jules Boag, MAMA
HotHouse Theatre in Wodonga and MAMA in Albury
There’s a flourishing art scene in Albury and Wodonga. HotHouse Theatre offer an exciting program of contemporary Australian shows performed in the rustic Butter Factory Theatre – once part of a dairy built in 1928.
Art lovers will enjoy a visit to the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) for an all-encompassing contemporary art experience featuring international exhibitions and deep connections to the regional surrounds and cultural identity. Interactive workshops are offered to channel your creative flair.
Dive into history at Bonegilla Migrant Centre
For a step back in time visit the Bonegilla Migrant Centre where more than 300,000 migrants lived from 1947 to 1971. Today it is a poignant and evocative reflection into what camp life was like. Once comprising 24 blocks, churches, banks, sports fields, a cinema, hospital, police station and railway platform, only Block 19 remains today. Audio recollections by former residents reflect the dreams of Australia’s post-war migrants.
Events in Albury and Wodonga
Big events on the Albury and Wodonga social calendar include the Albury Gold Cup held every March. It is the largest country race meeting in New South Wales and attracts big crowds, top fields and a hotly contested Fashions on the Field.
Write Around the Murray is another great event. The five-day festival held in September celebrates literacy with a festival dinner, literary lunch, workshops, author talks, panel sessions, short story competitions and a riverside wood-fired oven event.
These days, Albury and Wodonga is a powerful mix of culture and creativity with a big helping of country cool.