Ladies and gentlemen, we give you two rival towns going head to head. Welcome to the battle of the cities!
Albury and Wodonga are twin towns just seven kilometres apart on the NSW/Victoria border. While they are on opposite sides of the Murray River, they form a large urban area which is one of Australia's fastest growing.
Albury was developed as The Crossing Place drovers and stockmen en route to Port Phillip rested there as the river was fordable.
Discovery of gold in Victoria drew people away from Albury, resulting in Wodonga gazetted as Belvoir being slowly developed into a major stock-selling centre. They became part of their respective states in 1851 and both became customs posts enforcing tariffs.
Today, while the twin cities are not officially joined, they are promoted as a single destination with blurred border lines. But some of the Victoria versus New South Wales rivalry remains and Getaway decided to put the towns to the test with some pretty basic challenges which has the best pub, hamburger, b&b and tourist attraction. Here is what we found …
The New Albury Hotel opened in 1939. Its design is art deco with an upstairs bar, dining room and three floors of ensuite accommodation. Paddy's Irish Bar, a beer garden and gaming room dominate downstairs and you will always find locals who will well you why Albury is the better town.
Wodonga's Birallee Tavern is made from Mt Gambier limestone and recycled timber. It is split level with front bar, cafe and gaming room on the bottom floor and bars on the upper floors. There are lots of activities for patrons darts, pool, trivia, gaming machines, raffles, tipping competitions, joker poker and cheap happy hour drinks.
When it comes to hamburgers, Captain White's in Wodonga has a tempting range including chilli, rib, fish, schnitzel and continental. Their "burger with the lot" is served on a knot roll with mince, lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, egg, cheese and beetroot with a choice of sauce.
Competition across the Murray is the Mermaid Cafe and Takeaway. They offer good home-cooked meals with great country atmosphere. Their burgers have mince, lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, egg, cheese, beetroot and pineapple.
Betty and Larry Kendall love the Tudor period of history and they have based their b&b, Elizabeth's Manor, on that theme. The five-star establishment is in North Albury and offers the charm and comfort of times gone by. The gallery room is richly decorated and suites have four poster beds, ensuites, period furniture, television and refrigerator. Breakfast may be enjoyed in the comfort of your room or in the gallery.
In the grounds of Elizabeth's Manor you will find the delightful Anne's Cottage. It is self-contained and children are welcome to stay there. There is a barbecue in front of the pond and waterfall and huge old conifers provide a tranquil setting.
In Wodonga, Baranduda Homestead, at the meeting of Yackandandah Creek and Kiewa Valley, offers true country accommodation, hosted by the fourth generation of the family to live at the property. The first lease was taken up in 1852 and provided milk and meat for the thousands of miners who had flocked to the area.
The great-grandfather of the current owner purchased the property in 1894. The homestead was demolished in 1934 and 45,000 bricks, doors, ceilings and fixtures were salvaged and used in the construction of the present homestead. They offer queen beds and ensuites, private dining and lounge room, secluded courtyard, farm walks and mountain views. Meals are available on request.
The Murray River itself is a cause of consternation as officially it lies within the NSW border. Wodonga residents insist that the border line runs halfway through the river, giving each told an equal claim. Better to stay out of that one!
Army Museum Bandiana's collection outgrew its original location and moved to its present site in 1976. The museum, in Wodonga, houses a wonderful collection covering 5000 square metres. There are 120 vehicles, weapons, guns, tanks, audio displays, medals, uniforms and the building is from the WWII period, making it the perfect display case.
Albury's Cumberoona Paddle Steamer is a replica of the 1886 original which now lies on the bottom of the Darling River. Its season is from September to April and offers jazz and blues nights, classical brunches, Devonshire teas and theme events.
Well, we gave it our best shot but just could not decide on a winner. Our suggestion is that you visit the twin towns and decide for yourself!
The NSW/Victoria border.
Elizabeth Manor rooms cost $154 a double a night and Anne's Cottage costs $132 a double a night.
Baranduda Homestead accommodation costs $110 a double a night.
Army Museum Bandiana entry costs $5 for adults and $2 for children.
Cumberoona Paddle Steam Murray Cruises cost $13 for adults and $5 for children per hour.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
New Albury Hotel
491 Kiewa Street, Albury 2641
Ph: (02) 6021 3599 Fax: (02) 6021 8574
97-99 Melrose Drive, Wodonga 3691
Ph: (02) 6059 4666 Fax: (02) 6059 4664
405 Wagga Road, Lavington 2641
Ph: (02) 6025 2692
Captain White's Family Food
13 Morrison Street, Wodonga 3691
Ph: (02) 6056 2722
531 Lyne Street, Lavington 2641
Ph: (02) 6040 4412 Fax: (02) 6040 5166
Baranduda Homestead b&b
1027 Kiewa Valley Hwy, Wodonga 3691
Ph/Fax: (02) 6020 email@example.com
Noreuil Park, Albury 2640
Ph: (02) 6041 5558 Fax: (02) 6041 firstname.lastname@example.org
Army Museum Bandiana
Gaza Ridge Barracks, Wodonga 3691
Ph: (02) 6055 2525
Qantas Ph: 13 13 13