New South Wales’s South West Slopes is a region covering the lower inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range. Offering every type of the state’s best natural and cultural offerings, you’ll move from grand hills, lush orchards and picturesque lakes to gold-mining towns, heritage buildings and steam railways that make for indelible memories.
The largest town in the Hilltops Council is the charming town of Young, just a two-hour drive from Canberra and four hours from Sydney. It’s known as the Cherry Capital of Australia, and there’s no better way to celebrate the juicy jewels than at the annual National Cherry Festival, which is held on the first weekend in December. From late October through to January, you can pick your own cherries, apricots and other stone fruit at one of the many local orchards. If you’d rather drink the local produce, join a Hilltops Wine Tour or visit the award-winning boutique winery Grove Estate Wines.
Heading southwest through Cootamundra, you’ll soon arrive at the town of Junee. See the last standing steam train depot in New South Wales at the 1947 Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum. Particularly worthy of a stop-off is the Monte Cristo Historic Homestead, also known as ‘Australia’s Most Haunted House’, which hosts extremely popular evening ghost tours to get your heart racing. If you’re looking to curb a sweet tooth, the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory is sure to do the trick. Watch them make their Belgian-style treats, or get creative and make your own giant chocolate freckle or rocky road slab.
Just a 32-minute drive from Junee is Wagga Wagga, a major centre for the Riverina and South West Slopes regions. Make your first stop the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens and meander through the miniature zoo, free-fly aviary, rainforest, cactus garden and more. For incredible views of the city’s stunning landscapes, sign up for a Warbird Aerial Adventure and try yourself with adrenaline-pumping aerobatics in the Nanchang CJ-6 aeroplane. Immerse yourself in Indigenous culture on a Wiradjuri Cultural Tour, or walk the Wiradjuri Track on the 12-kilometre loop around Wollundry Lagoon.
More than just a great stop on your road trip to somewhere else, Gundagai holds its own as a worthy destination. Take your picture near the renowned 1932 Dog on the Tucker Box statue, visit the nearby precinct and walk or bike the new four-kilometre recreational trail nearby. For an astonishing exhibition of the heights of human patience, visit artist Frank Rusconi’s Marble Masterpiece. Twenty-eight years’ worth of work, it comprises 21000 pieces of carefully hand-cut and polished Australian marble. Hear some terrific stories of law and order at the Old Gundagai Gaol before stopping at the Nigagara Café, which serves delectable hamburgers, milkshakes and mixed grills.