THE LINK ROADS of North East Victoria and the Southern Riverina
The oft forgotten link roads
THESE link roads are where you will discover the road trip you never knew you needed.
They are those small, medium, and longer rural roads which connect two major roads or highways, cutting through valleys, through forests, across mountain passes and open plains, or skirting our magnificent alpine regions.
We have chosen the following roads because of their fun factor, breathtaking scenery and landscapes, and a whole swag of things to see and do along the way.
Getting to them is even an adventure, but once you have driven one – or all – of them, you will want to keep going back.
A FIRM favourite, the Granya (Gap) Road is a steep and windy sealed section which claws its way up and through the Mount Granya State Park, before dropping down to the Murray Valley Highway at Bullioh in the Upper Murray region of North East Victoria.
The road is 15-kilometres in length and is just under 950-metres at its highest point.
Mount Granya State Park, which is located 60-kilometres east of Albury-Wodonga in Victoria on the Great (Murray) River Road, is a dominant, 6140-hectare outcrop in the Upper Murray landscape, its steep, forested slopes rising dramatically above the upper reaches of Lake Hume and surrounding valleys.
The only sign of civilisation along the road is the farming community village of Granya at the northern end, a couple of farm houses scattered here and there, and a couple more at the southern end of the road.
The road has many sharp bends and a couple of hairpins, and some corners are slippery owing to the lack of sunshine at any time of the year.
Beware of cyclists and motorcyclists. Caravans are not recommended.
Tumbarumba to Tintaldra via Tooma (above)
IF scenery, stop-off points and sweeping hilly roads are your thing, this is the road for you.
Heading south-east from the timber town of Tumbarumba, Tooma Road passes the majestic Paddy Rivers Falls and skirts the western edge of the Snowy Mountains.
Five kilometres from the farming community of Tooma is the Southern Cloud Memorial Lookout which offers magnificent views of Maragle and Tooma Valleys, as well as the main ridge of the Kosciusko National Park.
This lookout features an undercover picnic area, along with a series of interpretive story boards that commemorates the site where, in 1931, the Southern Cloud aircraft disappeared in the mountain ranges you can see from the lookout.
The road passes the historic Tooma Inn and Tooma Station before joining the Tintaldra Road which crosses the Murray River into Victoria at the township of Tintaldra.
The road is 54-kilometres in length and is windy, but allow plenty of time to visit the falls and stop at the Southern Cloud lookout.
Holbrook to Tumbarumba
THE Jingellic Road between the submarine – yes, submarine - town of Holbrook and the timber town of Tumbarumba, follows the (almost) exact route explorers Hume and Hovell took on their overland trek from Yass in New South Wales to Port Phillip, Victoria, in 1824.
From Holbrook the road traverses mainly flat countryside, passing through the farming communities of Wantagong and Lankeys Creek.
The terrain takes on a different perspective from Munderoo where it starts a gradual climb to Mannus, then gets very steep and windy on its way into Tumbarumba.
The scenery along the entire drive is spectacular but also gives an indication of the hardship the expedition had to endure.
Buildings along the 87-kilometre route include the historic Lankeys Creek Community Hall and Mannus Correctional Centre.
Walwa to Shelley
AFTER 14 months and $7.6 million of road works, the Walwa-Shelley Road reopened to traffic early 2019.
The bulk of the roadworks on the 47-kilometre stretch was through the 18,400ha Burrowa-Pine Mountain National Park.
Pine Mountain is reputedly one and a half times as big as Uluru and the park is popular for picnicking and camping, four-wheel-drives and mountain bikes, and bushwalking.
Bluff Falls is a spectacular set of waterfalls where water cascades off the park plateau, over Cudgewa Bluff.
Logging trucks and motorbike riders are regular users of the road and those corners which do not get any sunshine can be slippery and wet, so care must be taken.
The area on the Murray Valley Highway known as Shelley is home to a major radiata pine plantation operation and once boasted having Victoria’s highest railway station, at 781-metres above sea level.
The road out of Walwa is narrow but once into the national park the extensive roadworks, to cater for logging trucks, widens significantly, with many tight and sweeping bends.
Merton to Euroa
THE Merton-Euroa Road, or Route C366, is a 34-kilometre link road between the Hume Freeway in the north and the Maroondah Highway in the south.
It is a cracker and runs along a valley floor of the picturesque Strathbogie Ranges, the mountains the murderous Kelly Gang hid during their bushranging days.
Tackling it from the Merton end means dropping down from a plateau to the valley floor via a narrow two lane road that offers plenty of twists and turns, blind bends and hairpins.
Oh. And stunning scenery, if you slow long enough to catch glimpses of it.
Unfortunately, there are no places to pull over to take in the glorious mountain countryside.
Once you get down off the plateau the road is flat to Euroa but there are still plenty of bends and sweeping curves to keep you happy.
Not caravan friendly at the Merton end owing to the steep, windy sections.
Sandy Creek to Tawonga
THE Sandy Creek to Tawonga drive south along the eastern side of the Kiewa River is a road less travelled yet offers stunning scenery of rich pastures, fertile river flats, and the magnificent mountain ranges of the Kiewa Valley.
The Gundowring/Mullagong/Redbank/Mongans Road which starts just south of the Murray Valley Highway at Red Bluff at the southern end of Lake Hume, connects with the Kiewa Valley Highway a few kilometres north of Tawonga.
What a stunning drive as you look directly down the valley towards the Victorian High Country, with Victoria’s highest mountain, snow-covered Mount Bogong (1986m), standing sentinel above this very picturesque valley.
Within the valley are the townships of Tawonga South, Tawonga, Dederang, Tangambalanga, and the Wodonga satellite town of Baranduda.
Villages include Kiewa, Kergunyah, and Gundowring.
The Kiewa Valley Highway is located adjacent to much of the course of the river, along whose banks are many dairy farms which are the life blood of the valley.
The Gundowring to Tawonga road gives you a different perspective than if you were driving on the highway which runs parallel on the opposite side of the river.
It is in good condition for a C-grade rural road, although narrow in parts, and it pays to keep a sharp lookout for farm vehicles and, of course, herds of dairy cattle which cross the road here and there to get to their dairy sheds.
THE Batlow Road/Snowy Mountains Highway between Tumbarumba and Tumut offers more than just scenery.
It offers the traveller the chance to stop in at numerous farm gates to buy (via the honesty system), fresh fruit and vegetables, and visit the apple town of Batlow.
While apples, pears, cherries, berries, and stone fruits are still grown in the area, the town was once a thriving centre when the local packing house canned and distributed under the Mountain Maid label, was central to the town's prosperity.
The town was almost destroyed in the 2020 bushfires, the same fires which devastated the Sugar Pine Walk at Bago State Forest at Laurel Hill between Tumbarumba and Batlow.
The pretty timber town of Tumut, 32-kilometres to the north east, puts on a stunning display during autumn and is well worth the drive just to take in the autumnal colours.
Lockharts Gap Road
ANOTHER short, sharp, fun-to-drive North East Victoria road is the Lockharts Gap Road which connects the Murray Valley Highway (B400) with the Omeo Highway (C543).
It is a short cut between the two and while it takes you away from the township of Tallangatta, and the site of Old Tallangatta, both on the Murray Valley Highway, it is well worth the drive, especially if that is what you love doing!
The road is 34-kilometres in length and it takes around 30-minutes to drive, providing you don't stop at the Lockharts Gap Lookout which sits at the junction of the Eskdale Spur Road and Powerline Road.
We strongly recommend you do pull in to the lookout carpark as the views to the east down the valley are stunning.
The road starts (or ends) just off the Murray Valley Highway at Sandy Creek and traverses undulating to hilly terrain all the way to the farming community of Tallandoon on the Mitta Mitta River.
Turn right at Tallandoon and you can follow the Omeo Highway through Eskdale and Mitta Mitta all the way to the township of Omeo, a major stop-over for those travelling the Great Alpine Road between Wangaratta and Bairnsdale.
Lockharts Gap Road passes through the farming communities of Red Bluff and Charleroi.
The road is two-lane but narrow, and sealed in its entirety, but beware of slow-moving local farm traffic and motorbikes.
Tawonga Gap Road
THE Tawonga Gap Road, or Route C546, connects the Great Alpine Road with the Kiewa Valley Highway and, if you can get a ‘good run at it’, is one of those short, sharp roads that begs to be driven more than once.
It ticks the box on many fronts, from spectacular scenery, fun bends and curves, dangerous drop-offs, and hairpins, but it can be extremely busy on weekends and holidays courtesy of motorcycle and bike riders.
This driver’s playground offers a picturesque 24 kilometre drive up and over the Tawonga Gap, with two lookouts along the way which offer magnificent views of the lush Kiewa Valley and Kiewa River, and the township of Mount Beauty.
Standing sentinel is Victoria’s highest peak, Mount Bogong, which soars 1986-metres above the valley floor.
The 30-minute drive leaves the Great Alpine Road just east of the tourist town of Bright at Germantown and, for the first part of the journey, follows the course of German Creek, along whose banks are numerous chestnut farms.
The sealed road, which is narrow in parts, then climbs dramatically to its highest point at Tawonga Gap Lookout.
The lookout has plenty of parking and a couple of picnic tables, plus there is a viewing platform which affords uninterrupted views of the snow-capped Victorian Alps.
On the windy downhill section is Sullivans Lookout.
The road’s intersection with the Kiewa Valley is just north of the sub-alpine township of Tawonga South.
As the Tawonga Gap Road is the shortest route between Mount Beauty and Bright, it is popular with locals and tourists, so it is best driven during the week if you want a bit of fun.
But take care as riders do use it during weekdays as well.
Happy Valley/Running Creek Road
HERE is another short, sharp, highway-to-highway drive that alleviates the need to cross the Tawonga Gap if you need to get from Mount Beauty to Myrtleford - or vice versa.
It is called the Happy Valley Road/Running Creek Road - or Route C534 - which starts - or ends - at Ovens on the Great Alpine Road just south of Myrtleford and ends - or starts - at Running Creek just south of Dederang on the Kiewa Valley Highway.
It is a pleasant, half hour, 37-minute drive which traverses rolling to undulating countryside and passing through the farming communities of Kancoona and Rosewhite.
The road has many sweeping curves with the odd sharp bends, but it is near Kancoona where the road does get interesting.
It is along this section where the road enters, emerges, and re-enters heavily timbered forest areas, with hairpin bends, blind corners, dips and short climbs demanding concentration as motorcycle and bicycle riders are prevalent, especially on weekends.
There are several spots where you can stop and take in magnificent, uninterrupted views down the picturesque Kiewa Valley towards the Victorian High Country, or towards craggy Mount Buffalo.
Rosewhite is home to The Homestead Estate Winery, plus there are numerous farmstays and quaint B&Bs to be found along the way.
Wagga to Gundagai
THERE are two ways of getting from Wagga to Gundagai (or vice versa).
One is via the popular Sturt Highway which tracks east from Wagga, joining the Hume Highway north of Tarcutta.
Because it is the direct route for heavy transports travelling between Sydney and Adelaide, it is busy and, at times, travel can be slow, but there is an alternative.
It consists of several rural roads traversing mainly flat to undulating countryside on the northern side of the Murrumbidgee River, with spectacular views to be gleaned of rolling hills between Gundagai and Wantabadgery.
Leaving North Wagga, Oura Road snakes its way east, passing through the settlement of Oura before heading northeast to Wantabadgery.
If that name rings an historic bell, Wantabadgery Station was the location of a siege by bushranger Captain Moonlite and his gang in 1879.
Four days later the gang was involved in deadly shootout at McGlede’s Hut a few kilometres north.
From Wantabadgery, Oura Road snakes further east to the village of Nangus, then changing name to Nangus Road which continues to Gundagai, entering the town’s main street (Sheridan Street) from the west.
Total distance of this link route is 82 kilometres.
The road is two lanes and fully sealed, and is caravan friendly, but there are little to no services between Wagga and Gundagai.
The Alpine Way
ANOTHER regional road to add to your bucket list of great Australian drives is The Alpine Way, a 121-kilometre, all-weather, fully sealed road located in the south eastern corner of the Southern Riverina.
Built in the 1950s as an access road for the construction of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricity Scheme, the road connects the sub-Alpine town of Jindabyne in the east, to the New South Wales/Victorian border in the west, skirting the southern and western slopes of the Kosciuszko National Park.
As the road passes through a national park, fees and other conditions apply, so before heading off, best you call into either the Khancoban or Jindabyne Visitor Information Centres (depending on direction of travel) to check road conditions, buy a pass, and ask the friendly staff about camping grounds, where to take some magnificent walks, the various ski resorts, or even where to capture that perfect photograph of Australia’s highest mountain – Mount Kosciuzsko (2228m).
The road is also a somewhat slower-paced alternative route from North East Victoria to the NSW snowfields of Thredbo, Charlotte Pass, Perisher, Smiggin Holes, Crackenback and Guthega.
The Alpine Way terminates three kilometres west of the sub-Alpine town of Jindabyne.
Here you can turn right onto the Barry Way which, after several name changes, joins the Princes Highway at Nowa Nowa in South Gippsland.
From Jindabyne, the Kosciuszko Road traverses rolling countryside before joining the Snowy Mountains Highway just west of Cooma.
From Cooma you can follow the Monaro Highway northward to Canberra, or continue south east along the Snowy Mountains Highway until it joins the Princes Highway just north of Bega on the NSW South Coast.
Whether you are driving or riding a motorbike along the Alpine Way, the drive allows you to soak in the spectacular mountain views, but as the road is steep, narrow, and winding between Khancoban and Thredbo, and subject to rock falls, it is not recommended for vehicles towing large caravans.
Winding through tall mountain forests and past the dramatic western fall of the Main Range, snow-capped peaks can be seen from winter through to spring.
You’ll be driving a path well-travelled, rich with historic significance.
Aboriginal people travelled this route to the high country, and more recently, it was used as a drover’s stock route and for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme.
Adventures to be had along the way include spectacular walking tracks, fishing, camping, and mountain bike riding.
There are plenty of accommodation options, including riverside camping at Tom Groggin and Geehi Flats, plus cabins, caravan parks, and motels at Thredbo and other resorts.
The Alpine Way crests the Great Dividing Range at Dead Horse Gap at an altitude of 1580m.
The road has no major intersections.
Road restrictions in the region require all vehicles to carry snow chains between June and October but, due to sudden weather changes, be prepared at any time of the year.
And that includes dressing appropriately.
WE will post more link roads once we have driven them.