As I pack my worldly belongings into boxes (more boxes than I’d prefer to divulge) and prepare to relocate my base-camp up to Brisbane from Melbourne, I am confronted with one very important question: is there actually anything exciting about the Newell Highway, the fastest and most direct route between the two cities? Sure, there are *foul-mouthed truckies’ and the occasional ‘roo, but is there anything scenic, dare I say touristy about this 20-hour inland route? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly want to be stopping every 2 minutes for a happy-snap and some historic building (I’m well aware that this isn’t the long and leisurely coastal drive up the Pacific Motorway), but a few nice little vistas and quaint old mining towns wouldn’t go astray for a daily pit-stop or three.

My google pre-planning informs me that yes, my wish could indeed come true, with some surprisingly interesting and scenic cities dotted along this major freight route, in particular Lachlan and Moree (see below for trip highlights).

My cavoodle, Poppy, will also be keeping me company on the three day drive, and our sleep-spots for the evenings have been arranged in advance as pet-friendly accommodation options are few and far between. The plan so far is to stop at West Wyalong on the first night and then Moree the second.

Newell Highway 1

Trip Itinerary – Newell Highway Drive from Melbourne to Brisbane

Day 1

From To Distance Time
Melbourne Shepparton 209 km 150 mins
Shepparton Tocumwal 78 km 50 mins
Finley Jerilderie 37 km 25 mins
Jerilderie Narrandera 108 km 60 mins
Narrandera Ardlethan 71 km 45 mins
Ardlethan West Wyalong 69 km 45 mins

Total Travel = 6 hours 25 minutes

Day 2

From To Distance Time
West Wyalong Forbes 104 km 60 mins
Forbes Parkes 32 km 25 mins
Parkes Peak Hill 50 km 35 mins
Peak Hill Tomingley 17 km 10 mins
Tomingley Dubbo 53 km 35 mins
Dubbo Gilgandra 67 km 40 mins
Gilgandra Coonabarabran 101 km 65 mins
Coonabarabran Narrabri 118 km 80 mins
Narrabri Moree 99 km 70 mins

Total Travel = 7 hours

Day 3

From To Distance Time
Moree Goondiwindi 125 km 75 mins
Goondiwindi Millmerran 137 km 90 mins
Millmerran Brisbane 208 km 150 mins

Total Travel = 5 hours 25 minutes

Trip Highlights – Newell Highway Drive from Melbourne to Brisbane

Dubbo – Taronga Western Plains Zoo, the unique environment of the zoo provides a natural theatre for the animals in the wild and at play. Open from 9am everyday.

Finley – Finlay Lake, recreation and aquatic sports and picnic facilities.

Forbes – Lake Forbes, A natural lagoon offering 4.8km of walking tracks, birdlife, picnic and bbq areas, a playground, toilets and an RV friendly rest area.

Griffith – Catania Fruit Salad Farm, Farm 43, Cox Rd Hanwood.

Inverell – Gem Fossicking, Tourist Drive 3 Inverell to Narrabri, and Copeton Waters State Park.

Jerilderie – Ned Kelly Trail, follow the track taken by the infamous Ned Kelly and his gang in 1879 when they visited Jerilderie. Six of the original buildings are still in existence.

Lachlan – The heart of NSW has the largest natural inland lakes system in the state and the showpiece of that system is Lake Cargelligo, the unexpected oasis in central NSW

Moree Plains – famous for the natural Hot Artesian Pools, relax and rejuvenate in the therapeutic mineral-rich water.

Narrandera – Australia’s largest playable Guitar on display at the Narrandera Visitor Information Centre.

Parkes – Home of the iconic Parkes Radio Telescope (The Dish) and henry Parkes Centre.

West Wyalong – Visit the Wyalong Museum to explore the gold, eucalyptus and tin history of West Wyalong.

Narrabri Shire – Mt Kaputar National Park – Sawn Rocks are located 36kms from Narrabri and are 40 metre high pillars of basalt rock formation.

If you’re thinking of making the drive between Melbourne and Brisbane and want to get there the fastest and most direct way possible, then consider cruising along the Newell Highway. For more information on the route and attractions, download the Newell Highway brochure, it’s been a true gem during my trip planning!

Also, keep a lookout for my road trip essentials list being published tomorrow on A Modern Wayfarer.


*NOTE I apologise to all the truckies’ out there reading this. You’re not all foul-mouthed. Some of you are just misunderstood.