Albury is just the right amount of distance away from the city.
It’s close enough that you can drive it in a day, shooting six hours down the Hume Freeway from Sydney. But it’s also enough that you can feel the good country air seeping into your lungs, marking the beginning of a totally fresh headspace: trees roll past, hills undulate, grass grows, the sun shines.
But don’t get me wrong. Albury isn’t one of those tiny little towns where time stands still. In fact, I’m going to say it’s the most underrated summer destination in NSW.
If you’re looking for a getaway, and you want to try something different, there are lots of reasons to consider this regional river city.
For the perfect summer holiday, just add water. When you think of Albury, the first thing that springs to mind is probably the Murray River. Don’t get me wrong, paddling down on a canoe or paddleboard is something everyone should try.
But the real drawcard is the city’s proximity to Lake Hume. This huge body of water is actually one of the largest dams in the world, located 16km east of town. It’s currently at more than 98 percent capacity, which means it’s ripe and ready for a busy summer of watersports, including boating, fishing, swimming, paddling, and more.
You can cycle along the High Country Rail Trail which extends for 30km along the lake’s shore, and enjoy countless bushwalks in the area.
Bites and delights
Dean Street, right in the middle of town, is the heart of all the action. Start with brunch at Mr. Benedict and try to snag one of the bar stools in the window.
The menu has lots of surprising options with eggs, but I can wholeheartedly recommend the smoky beans with chorizo, fried eggs, Persian feta, and sourdough.
For dinner, you can circle back, because right next door is an excellent tapas restaurant called Saludos, where you can graze and sample the incredible wine list until late.
Or if you want something more casual, The Bended Elbow is my pick for pubs, Urban Graze has great burgers, and the South Cali Cantina offers tacos and tequila. Everything is popular at the moment, so be sure to book ahead.
Culture and history
MAMA, the Murray Art Museum Albury, is the town’s big-ticket cultural icon. It’s a contemporary art museum that provides workshops, talks, classes, and activities for people of all ages, which makes it a must-visit.
However, there are lots of interesting pit stops you can make in this area. The Army Museum Bandiana is one of the largest army museums in the country; the Bonegilla Migrant Experience offers a fascinating insight into the post-war migration that helped shape Australia into the country it is today; and the Jindera Pioneer Museum is a chance to step back in time as you explore the two-acre display (don’t miss the blacksmith shop or the tea rooms).
Fun for families
Every family trip should include a bit of silliness. Albury has all the fun activities you expect from a summer holiday destination. The best place to start is Zone Laser Tag, which has a range of laser tag options available for ages six and up, as well as a very cool mini golf course with a 45-meter-long Marvel superheroes artwork kids will love, and all the classic arcade games every kid should try.
WAVES aquatic facility, over the border in Wodonga, has a fun splash pad area kids will love (watch out for the large tipping bucket!). And while you’re on this side, be sure to check out the Wodonga Creek Miniature Railway.
Albury also has parks and playgrounds aplenty – try Oddies Creek Adventure Playspace, located right on the beautiful riverbank – for a chilled-out afternoon that won’t break the bank.
This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com