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Top 10 Things to Do in Gundagai, NSW

Immortalised in popular culture, the jaunty township of Gundagai is a convenient spot to break the drive between Sydney and Melbourne. But rather than rushing through, take a couple of days to tick off these memorable must-dos.
Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai
Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai. Image: Adam Ford

Ask any Aussie to put together a list of quintessential country towns and chances are Gundagai in the New South Wales Riverina will be on it — thanks largely to legendary Australian singer-songwriter Jack O’ Hagan.

He penned Along The Road to Gundagai back in the early 1920s (itself, preceded by a poem of a similar name by Banjo Paterson), which found its way into Australian folklore. The road to Gundagai is now a four-lane freeway, but the blue gums still grow, the Murrumbidgee River still flows, and the town has lost none of its rural charm.

While it’s too often seen by travellers as simply a midway fuel stop on the nine-hour trip from Sydney to Melbourne (or vice versa) by road, Gundagai has plenty to offer those who choose to tarry. History buffs in particular, will love this destination: heritage bridges, gripping tales of pioneering heroism, and a trove of period architecture are all waiting to be discovered.

Here’s a checklist of our top ten things to do in Gundagai.


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1. Enjoy a flaky feast at Gundagai Bakery

It wouldn’t be a visit to an Aussie country town without sampling the wares of the local bakery — and at 150+ years old, Gundagai Bakery has had plenty of time to get things just right. Situated right in the heart of the town centre, it boasts some award winning flaky treats (and has the trophies and certificates to prove it!). Our bet is you’ll end up here more than once.

Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai
Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai: Gundagai Bakery. Image: Adam Ford

2. Admire the view from Mount Parnassus

Mount Parnassus features in Greek mythology as the home of the nine muses. Gundagai’s version may lack the mythical proportions, but it will still afford you a sweeping view of the town and surrounding region. The drive from town to the lookout will only take a couple of minutes (you could even walk it from the bakery in 15-or-so minutes if you need to burn some rogue calories). Gundagai is famous for its structurally remarkable heritage bridges that span the Murrumbidgee floodplains, and the lookout will give you a chance to compare the old and new. To your left, the heritage Prince Alfred Bridge and railway viaduct stretch out across the flat landscape; to your right, traffic streams along the modern Hume Highway viaduct which crosses the Murrumbidgee on the Sheahan Bridge (one of the longest bridges in New South Wales).

3. Marvel at the Marble Masterpiece

You’ll no doubt be visiting the famous Dog on the Tuckerbox sculpture during your stay in Gundagai, so swing by the Visitor Information Centre to see another work by sculptor Frank Rusconi. His Marble Masterpiece is made of more than 20,000 hand cut and polished pieces of marble and borrows various elements from classical architectural styles, rolling them all up into one epic edifice. Is it a church? Is it a palace? No-one’s too sure, but full marks for effort. It took some 28 years to complete!

Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai
Admire Gundagai’s heritage architecture. Image: Adam Ford

4. Do a self-guided heritage walking tour

Gundagai is packed with heritage buildings, and you’ll get to tick many of them off on the two-kilometre self-guided walking tour that’s been put together by the fine folk at the Visitor Information Centre. Grab an old-school map or download the Cya on the Road app and sign in to hear recorded segments on more than 20 significant landmarks, including the Old Post Office, theatre, columned Court House, Old Gaol and no-longer-in-use Railway Station (which dates back to 1886). You’ll also get an up-close look at those heritage bridges. This activity can easily fill an entire afternoon, particularly if you choose to stop at some of the attractions. There are various spots to enjoy a light lunch and restorative latte along the way. Bring a good hat and sunscreen as there isn’t a lot of shade in certain areas.

Watch our video of top things to do on a Sydney to Melbourne road trip:

10 Top Things to Do on a SYDNEY to MELBOURNE ROAD TRIP, Australia (Inland Route via Canberra)

In part one of this double episode, we join AAT Kings on their amazing Tastes of Southern Australia guided adventure from Sydney to Melbourne and bring you tips for ten amazing things to do along the way.

5. Visit Gundagai Historical Museum

Located just over half-way through the walk, the Gundagai Historical Museum is worth an extended visit. Gundagai was established in 1840, but moved to higher ground in 1852 following a devastating flood (you will have seen The Great Rescue of 1852 monument earlier on the walk). The discovery of gold, and later a flourishing agricultural industry, helped build the town. The museum will give you more of that backstory. It closes at 3pm, so don’t get there too late.

Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai
Image: Gundagai Historical Museum

6. Tuck into a tasty pub classic

Gundagai has some great country pubs, so take your pick for dinner. The Criterion Hotel serves up an array of tasty pizza options on their deck overlooking the main street, while Lotts Family Hotel up the road does generously sized pub classics, including steaks, parmies, and a killer roast of the day. The Gundagai District Services Club (opposite the Visitor Information Centre) is also a good option, and offers a contemporary setting and well-priced meals.

Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai
Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai: Criterion Hotel. Image: Adam Ford

7. Sip a great latte

Get the wheels in motion each morning during your stay in Gundagai at The Coffee Pedaler on Sheridan Street. It offers an array of house-made-and-baked treats for breakfast, and great coffee to boot. The cafe occupies what was originally a bank, and old meets new in the fit-out.

Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai
Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai: The Coffee Pedaler. Image: Adam Ford

8. Snap a selfie with the poetic pooch

The iconic Dog on the Tucker Box monument, also crafted by Rusconi, cast in Sydney, and erected in 1932, is probably responsible for enticing the lion’s share of visitors to Gundagai. Located just off the Hume Highway about eight kilometres north of town, the monument is thought to have been based on a 19th century poem about bullock drays and celebrates the unwavering dedication of man’s best friend (in this case, tenaciously guarding the bullock driver’s tucker to the bitter end). Jack O’ Hagan also turned this tale into a hit tune: Where the Dog Sits On The Tuckerbox (5 Miles from Gundagai). Snap a selfie with the faithful hound and browse in the visitor centre for a souvenir of your visit.

Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai
Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai: Dog on the Tucker Box

9. Follow the Southern Gold Trail

While you’re out and about, take the opportunity to follow a stretch of the Southern Gold Trail, which extends from Yass to Kiandra. Gold was discovered in the region early in the New South Wales rush, which lasted roughly from the 1850s to the 1880s. Gold settlements rose and fell, but some survived and later thrived as provincial hubs. Head south from Gundagai along the Hume and turn off at Tumblong to reach Adelong. The state heritage-listed Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins are an atmospheric remnant from the era. The mill continued to process ore up until 1914. Cruise on to the town of Tumut, which sits in the north-west foothills of the Snowy Mountains and is home to yet more exquisite period architecture, a community museum, and heritage railway precinct. If time is on your side, you can head south from there past Blowering Dam to Kiandra. If not, circle back to Gundagai.

Ten of the best things to do in Gundagai
Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins. Image: Destination NSW/Tyson Mayr

10. See a show at The Sheridan Room

The aforementioned Old Post Office is home to The Sheridan Room — a gorgeous performance and events space, which hosts cabaret, concerts, and high teas with live music on Sundays. Head online to find out what’s on during your stay; you’ll get to rub shoulders with local residents and get an insight into the social fabric of this tight-knit community.

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For more travel inspiration, visit www.visitgundagai.com.au.

Browse our range of New South Wales tours and experiences here.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the top things to do in Gundagai? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Depositphotos, Bigstock, and Envato

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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