ALBURY-WODONGA . . .
. . . is the dynamic hub for your regional driving experience. It is the gateway to everywhere
Twin cities separated only by a hyphen
Words: Darryl Starr
ALBURY-WODONGA is a place for all seasons, and all reasons.
You wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Where else would you want to be if you cherish the seasonal changes and are surrounded by umpteen things to see and do in two vibrant cities that have grown at a pace that everyone who lives here can keep up with?
The jewel of inland Australia, Albury-Wodonga may be separated by the country’s greatest river, but as a community it operates as a whole rather than individually, despite both cities being run by separate councils and being located in separate states.
People live in Albury and work in Wodonga.
People live in Wodonga and work in Albury.
The twin cities share and share alike.
None much of that Sydney v Melbourne thing goes on, either.
And it is interesting when locals are far from home and someone asks them where they are from.
“I’m from Albury (or Wodonga).”
“Oh, you mean Albury-Wodonga,” is the stock reply.
In the majority of the nation’s eyes Albury-Wodonga is one big city separated only by a hyphen.
And the community likes it that way, as they do the weather.
Its seasons are distinct and extreme.
Summer can be stinking hot, winter icy cold, but autumn and spring is nothing short of spectacular.
From humble beginnings, the two towns have grown to become the envy of regional Australia.
Everything the capital cities have, Albury-Wodonga has.
Its infrastructure, educational and medical facilities, tourist attractions, shopping precincts, restaurants, clubs, and fine accommodation are second to none, it has a steady workforce with low unemployment thanks to major industries, as well as the Department of Defence.
Its housing is affordable, it has hectares of magnificent parks as well as award-winning gardens and, unlike other places in the country, it boasts excellent facilities catering to just about every form of sport known to man.
Albury-Wodonga is perfectly placed to be within easy reach of Sydney, Melbourne, the Sunshine and Gold Coast, Adelaide, and Canberra, which can be reached by road, rail, bus, or air.
Once thriving farming communities, both towns have grown into vibrant cities that are continually reinventing themselves, yet neither has lost sight of its roots.
Typical of many rural towns, Albury and Wodonga plodded along, with Wodonga always dragging its heels to the point that it became known as ‘Struggle Town’.
What a difference a couple of decades can make, as since Wodonga was proclaimed a city in 1973, it has gone ahead in leaps and bounds, to the point that it has outstripped Albury in terms of urban sprawl.
Both cities are as relaxed and as friendly as they have always been, despite significant changes to both.
Where once Dean Street, Albury, and High Street, Wodonga, were the cultural, business and shopping hubs, now suburban shopping centres, homemaker centres and a café culture, as well as clubs and restaurants, are taking that cosmopolitan feel to a new level.
Basic hotel accommodation and one or two motels – which catered for visitors and interstate travellers – have morphed into accommodation on a grand scale and entertainment these days is more than the Hoyts and Regent theatres and Palais Royale in Albury, and Melba Theatre in Wodonga.
The old Hume Highway, which wended its way through city streets, has been replaced by an internal bypass, the main Sydney-Melbourne railway line which caused havoc to High Street, Wodonga, motorists is gone and now you fly into the twin cities in jet aircraft where you are greeted by a terminal that is second to none in regional Australia.
Albury-Wodonga has outstanding public and private schools, universities and TAFE colleges, new civic centres, Albury has a stunning new LibraryMuseum and Art Gallery, Wodonga The Cube, and a new library gallery called Hyphen.
But to their credit, both cities have not lost contact with their past.
You are reminded of the skills of our traditional landowners, the Wiradjuri people, who carefully cut bark from trees to make canoes, scars of which can still be seen today, and of the ‘discovery’ by early explorers as evidenced by the Hovell Tree.
The Albury and Wodonga war memorials also remind locals of those brave service men and women who gave their lives in all overseas conflicts.
Albury-Wodonga has given the nation, and indeed the world, many fine, talented people and it will continue to do so.
Its heritage buildings, both private and public, are magnificent structures.
There are first-class conference centres, wide streets remain tree-lined, and multiculturalism has played a major part in making the cities what they are today.
Albury-Wodonga sits at the heart of North-East Victoria and the Southern Riverina, a 250-square kilometre region whose geography is as diverse as its scenery.
With the twin cities as your main holiday base, there is no end to the many towns, cities, historic sites, gourmet and wine regions, major waterways, and snowfields you can visit, yet still have plenty of time to ‘come home’ for the night before setting off on another adventure.
It is indeed the gateway to everywhere.
Albury-Wodonga is a beautiful place, filled with beautiful people.
There is no better reason to live here or to visit.
It has been my home for the past 68 years.
I would not want to live anywhere else.