ARTS AND CULTURE
Listen and laugh, see and read, think and marvel, try and buy. Albury Wodonga enlivens your senses in so many ways. There’s history, the visual and performing arts, and so many top shops to explore.
Experience our love affair with the arts
Albury Wodonga is simply passionate about the arts and culture, whether it’s performing, visual or musical, in a gallery, in the street or preserved in our rich history.
Turn back the pages
Just east of Albury on the banks of the Murray River is Mungabareena Reserve, meaning ‘place of plenty talk’. It was here the indigenous Wiradjuri people met, celebrated, settled disputes and traded goods well before European settlement.
When the Europeans arrived, Hume and Hovell crossed the Murray River in 1824, a journey which led to the first bridge being built across the Murray between Albury Wodonga in 1860.
Paddle steamers, the railway and gold fever spurred the growth of these fledgling towns, and you can certainly sense this at the 1881 Albury Railway Station which has one of Australia’s longest covered platforms. The old Albury Courthouse dealt with the region’s renegades from 1860, and this imposing grey granite building is registered by the National Trust. More recent is Wodonga’s 1923 Water Tower, a 33 metre high concrete tank built to hold the town’s daily water needs.
Visual and performing arts
You may well find national ensembles such as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Bell Shakespeare Company or Bangarra Dance Company are in town at the Albury Entertainment Centre. Our own highly regarded Hothouse Theatre Company is at home in the historic Butter Factory, and brings leading artists and plays to this venue. Albury Wodonga’s Flying Fruit Fly Circus is in huge demand around Australia and internationally, but returns to practice in its purposebuilt venue in Albury.
Wodonga’s Art Space features performances and exhibitions, while just over the river is the stately Albury Art Gallery. There’s a fine collection of works by Sir Russell Drysdale, along with contemporary art and photography.
Holidaying with young kids? Head for Kidspace at the Albury Art Gallery and to the contemporary LibraryMuseum where the kids can explore an interactive story of the Murray River. The Gateway Village is also very kid-friendly, with public art and grassy riverbanks. Forthcoming special events include the Wodonga Carnivale Spice (5-7 March 2010).
Albury Wodonga has its share of fashionistas who love having stylish shops right at their manicured fingertips. And if they don’t find exactly what they want on one side of the river, they’ll just cross over to the shops on the other. So, starting in Albury are three major shopping centres: Myer City Centre, Centro Westend Plaza and Centro Lavington. Tree-lined Dean Street has an enormous number of retail outlets and boutiques – and watch out for those little gems hidden in the laneways. Hobby enthusiasts should just head straight for the Albury Hobby Centre, filled with 2500 square feet of fun. In Wodonga are Centro Wodonga Plaza, Centro Birallee and a very generous scattering of stores along Stanley Street. High Street is wall-to-wall retail, so allow plenty of time here.
Tip: If you’re footsore at the end of the day, treat yourself to Regent Cinema’s Gold Class, with reclining Moran armchairs, footrests, personal table with wine cooler, light meals and desserts.
Attractions, Parks and Gardens
The Murray River is almost 3000 kilometres long, and some of its most beautiful stretches are within easy reach of Albury Wodonga. There are walks, riverside parks, excellent fishing spots and many kilometres of cycle tracks.
Stroll in our gardens, along our river banks, through our history
With Australia’s longest river running through the heart of Albury Wodonga, you’d expect to find idyllic river walks and parks. What you might not expect is a pub inspired by a cartoonist, an army museum with a huge collection of military memorabilia and a former migrant reception centre which helped change the face of Australia.
River rambles There are endless kilometres of river-side rambles along the Murray, some perfect for a little solitude or quiet fishing, others designed as community spaces with free gas barbecues, undercover picnic tables and playgrounds.
Cyclists will discover some of Australia’s best bike and walking paths, including more than 45 km alongside the river and along scenic routes through Wodonga. From Albury, there are 17 km of shared paths along the Murray River Trail from Mungabareena Reserve to the Wonga Wetlands, which take in the popular riverside Noreuil Park and the Hovell Tree where Captain William Hovell carved his initials in 1824.
Parks and gardens
An English elm tree planted by the Mayor of Albury in 1887 was the beginning of the magnificent Albury Botanic Gardens, which today have more than 1000 native and exotic plant species. The tallest is a huge Queensland Kauri Pine, which now stands 50 metres tall.
In Wodonga, a large lagoon features in the expansive Sumsion Gardens, which are linked to the Gateway Island cycle and walking track and the Wiradjuri Walkabout Aboriginal river walk. Take a walk or a ride and discover more of Wodonga’s indigenous and European history and its beautiful riverside scenery.
Lest we forget
Sitting atop Monument Hill is the Albury War Memorial, erected after World War One and now one of Australia’s best known. Nearby is the historic Wodonga water tower, set in a small park where sculptures form a walk and create visitor seating. At night, a magical light show is played out on the walls of the tower.
One of Australia’s largest and most diversified army museums, the Army Museum Bandiana is also in this region, with more than 150 military vehicles, many uniforms, weapons and a replica of the Changi Chapel. There’s a huge number of military items for sale. Other Australian memories are linked to Bonegilla, which was Australia’s largest and longest operating migrant reception centre. It was home to more than 320,000 post-war migrants, and its interpretive centre reflects the achievements, joys and sorrows of many of them.
Snowy Mountains Scheme
The Snowy Mountains Scheme is one of the world’s most complex water and hydro-electric power schemes, with 16 major dams and seven power stations. Completed in 1974, it took more than 25 years to build and involved more than 100,000 people from 30 countries. Murray 1 Power Station is the second largest, and is open to visitors (except winter weekends). It’s 10km east of Khancoban on the Alpine Way, and gives a fascinating insight into a scheme which was one of the civil engineering wonders of the modern world.
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