Planning a road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide along the Western and Dukes Highway? Allow a few days and discover these hidden gems along the way. In this itinerary, we have focussed on attractions that are unique and are mostly open daily. The highway is Australia's second busiest, so please take care when overtaking, it is patrolled regularly by highway police, so stick to the speed limit to avoid fines.
Ballarat Situated on the Western Highway is the amazing Kryal Castle, a medieval castle that you'll need a few hours to explore. Kryal Castle is open every weekend and every day during Victorian School Holidays from 10am - 4pm. Website
Beaufort Cyril Callister Museum - the man who invented Vegemite. A hidden gem on your right in an old petrol station. Free. Open Wed - Sat 10 - 2pm. Website
Ararat Take a guided tour of J Ward, Ararat's Old Gaol. Hear stories of its time as a gaol and later as the home for Victoria's criminally insane. Open daily. Virtual Tour. Aradale was commissioned to accommodate the growing number of "lunatics" in the colony of Victoria. Construction began in 1865. At its height, Aradale had up to 1000 patients and is a large complex with up to 70 interesting historic abandoned buildings. Aradale Day Tours operate on Wednesdays and Sundays. Website
Great Western Seppelt Cellar Door - Explore Seppelt Wines heritage listed underground cellars. With excavations beginning in 1868 by out of work gold miners, it took more than 60 years to dig the 3 kilometres of tunnels which can hold 3 million bottles of wine. Tours operate daily: 11am / 1pm / 3pm Website
Stawell Coming into Stawell are the hidden Sister Rocks, a collection of massive granite boulders covered in decades of graffiti. Sister Rocks were officially declared a protected area in the late 19th century, making them one of Australia's earliest attempts at nature conservation. NB, There is no slip road or signage and the road in is an unmaintained dirt road, so follow google maps for directions and do not attempt if the highway is busy. Stawell Gold Mine operates 24 hours a day and there is a viewing platform with interpretive and audio information. It is sure to be a hit with children. If it's a clear day, then take a short detour and drive up Big Hill Lookout, this is a must see and features stunning 360 views. Bunjil's Cave is a 10 minute drive off the highway. This is the only known rock-art painting of Bunjil. It is widely regarded as one of the most significant cultural sites in south eastern Australia. The Visitor Information Centre is located on the Western Highway and open daily.
Dadswell Bridge The Giant Koala is one of Australia's iconic "Big things". A great photo stop. Open daily.
Horsham Horsham Silo Art painted by world famous artist Smug, features Yanggendyinanyuk, who was famously known for his tracking skills, helping to locate the Cooper-Duff children from the “Lost in the Bush” story, who had been lost for 9 days near their home at Nurcoung. The story links to the West Wimmera Cricket Trail, Ebeneezer Mission and Ararat Asylum.
Murtoa The Stick Shedis around a 25 minutes detour from the highway but highly recommended. It is heritage listed and open 7 days from 10 - 3pm. It is often referred to as “The Cathedral of the Wimmera”. Nearby is the painted silo paying tribute to the Water Tower Museum featuring an historic taxidermy collection.
Dimboola Pink Lake glows pink, particularly in late summer. There is a viewing area which is well signposted off the Western Highway. Continue to Dimboola for the quirky Dimboola Imaginariuma must see destination shop, filled with curios, collectables and other unique gifts. Major Mitchell's lookout is at Nine Creek's Reserve (look carefully for the nails in the tree) and features a Chinese history interpretive walk also referencing Burke and Wills camels in 1863.
Nhill As you approach Nhill, on your left is the Australian Pin Ball Museum, an interactive museum open daily, showcasing a collection of quality pinball machines and pinball art. The playable machines on display at the museum range from the past 80 years to present day.Paw Po,is open 10 - 4pm weekdays. This unique venture showcases the culture and talents of the Karen women, who can be found on some days weaving and making products for sale. Nearby is theNhill Aviation Heritage Centre,situated on the original site of the RAAF training base and provides a glimpse of those times and life through informative displays and memorabilia including the four main training aircraft stationed at the base during WWII. Open most weekends and by appointment.
Kaniva Kaniva Puppet Shop is presently showcasing the world's largest jigsaw for the winter school holdays. Kaniva is home to the Sheep Art Trail. Also see the endangered Red-tail Black Cockatoos at the Kaniva Wetlands and Fauna Park.There are two destination pubs, the quirky, historic Commercial Hotel, with the Club Hotel with a beer garden mural tribute to local war hero Porky Hawker. Both are open 7 days.
Serviceton Uncover the border dispute story at the historical Serviceton Station. Continue on to the Serviceton Rest Area which features interpretive information on the Tolmer Way and Gold Escort Route.
Border crossing Please note the time difference of 30 minutes, and that you can not take any fruit and vegetables over the border into SA, The border checkpoint is patrolled often and steep fines apply, Website
Bordertown See rare White Kangaroos at the free wildlife park just off the Dukes Highway. The Bob Hawke Gallery features a collection of photographs, clippings, cartoons, paintings and memorabilia celebrating Bordertown as the birthplace of Bob Hawke and there is a gallery inside the Bordertown Visitor Information Centre. Head to Tolmer Park, the last Gold Escort service left here in December 1853. This spot was originally the police paddock from 1854. The toilets include a couple of cells. Head inside Morning Loaf Bakery and you can see the front of the old police station built in 1930.
Keith Land Rover on a pole is a popular photo stop, a memorial to the town's original decade of development when all the roads were sand and mud and everyone got around in Land Rovers! Further down is the Don Moseley Park. It features a push monorail, a favourite with children.
Tintinara On your left is Heart of the Parks, identified by the vibrant new mural in the old railway station behind the big windmill. The Signal Room contains local railway memorabilia. This popular rest area features murals, sculptures and windmills.
Coonalpyn The Viterra Coonalpyn Silos are on your left and were the first silos to be painted in South Australia. They were painted by world-renowned artist Guido van Helten. The train line underpass to the dog exercise park contains the artwork "Tunnel Vision". The series of murals depicting the town history were painted by students and community groups. Belgium pancakes are available on weekends and most school holidays.
Adelaide There are many things to do, however a hidden gem is the Museum of Economic Botany,one of the last of its kind in the world. Showcasing the countless uses of plants and with a focus on minimising waste, the museum built 1881, allows you to discover the importance of plants in our lives - past, present and future. Open daily.