Looking for somewhere new to explore on a weekend away in regional Victoria? The town of Benalla could well be one of the state’s best kept short-break secrets. Tucked away in the north-east, and offering a mix of amazing street art, bushranging history, a burgeoning food scene and close proximity to stunning silo art, there are plenty of reasons to make a break for Benalla.
Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Benalla. Book your stay with Choice Hotels.
Start your day with Benalla’s biggest breakfast
Benalla’s Big Brekkie is the star attraction at Rustik Café and Food Store and comes piled high with eggs, bacon, mushroom, sausage, tomato, beans and hash browns. If that sounds just a little too satisfying, maybe opt for the açai smoothie bowl and wash everything down with a great coffee.
Get on the trail of the Kelly Gang
Benalla is located in the heart of ‘Kelly Country’, the area of Victoria once roamed by infamous bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang of four. Among the exhibits at the engaging Costume and Kelly Museum are a portable jail cell that once held Ned, and a prized sash he received as a boy for bravery when he saved another child from drowning. See other pieces of family memorabilia and watch an informative video on Kelly’s life.
Tour the North East Victoria Silo Art Trail
Silo art has proven to be a big hit in this part of the world. And standing at the foot of a 20-metre-high mural, it’s not hard to see why these massive artworks draw thousands of visitors. Driving a stretch of the North East Silo Art Trail is a must-do and it’s within easy reach of Benalla. Start at Goorambat (just a 15-minute drive from Benalla) where street artist Jimmy Dvate has created a beautiful rendition of a Victorian Barking Owl, and depicted a trio of the famous Clydesdale horse. Take a break for lunch at the charming Goorambat Railway Hotel. This small family-owned pub offers a big menu, including pizzas built on home-made dough. Continue the silo art tour through nearby Devenish, St James and Tungamah, where artworks celebrate key historical events, local identities and iconic wildlife.
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Detour to Dookie
Before returning to Benalla, make a detour to the tiny town of Dookie and hunt for treasure amongst the bric-a-brac and eclectic collectables at the Dookie Emporium. You can also take the opportunity to sample a selection of local drops from the cellar door at Tallis Wines. Around Dookie, keep your eyes peeled for portable metal silos that have been painted as part of the town’s growing nomadic silo street art project.
Feast on fine fare
End your day with a comforting meal in the warm and friendly Ella Goose restaurant, run by local woman Jillian Merkel with her husband and chef Craig Robinson. While the menu gets a refresh two or three times a year, Craig’s delicious signature beef brisket is a mainstay.
Enjoy an artistic brunch
Do brunch and discover one of Australia’s best regional galleries at the same time. Benalla’s very impressive art gallery is home to Munro and Sargeant Café. Tuck into eggs prepared just about any way you can think of, or try the delicate crepes or rustic bircher muesli. Then spend some time exploring the gallery’s extensive collection of painted works, photography, sculptures, drawings and prints. You’ll see works by the artists of the Heidelberg School, and significant pieces of Indigenous art.
Stop and smell the flowers
On the doorstep of the art gallery, Benalla Botanical Gardens is a tranquil outdoor space filled with attractive garden beds and manicured lawns. Explore the delightful heritage rose gardens and take a gentle stroll along Dr Nicholson’s Walk by Lake Benalla. Pick up some tasty treats from local institution Bertalli’s Bakery and turn your Botanical Gardens visit into a pleasant picnic.
Follow the street art trail
Back in 2016, Benalla threw its first highly successful Wall to Wall street art festival. The popular event – last held in 2019 (due to the pandemic) – has left a lasting legacy of fabulous street art across town. Benalla now has around 75 murals, including work by prominent street artists Jimmy Dvate, Tim Bowtell (a Benalla local), Rone and Adnate. It’s easy to explore this outdoor art gallery over the course of a leisurely afternoon walk.
Enjoy some fabulous pub grub
You’ve got to love a country pub. Round out your Benalla stay with dinner at the North Eastern Hotel (‘The Northo’ as it’s more fondly known locally). The relaxed and inviting bistro mixes parmas, steaks and other pub staples with internationally-inspired curries and tacos. The flathead cooked in light and crunchy beer batter is some seriously delish fish.
Need a place to stay?
Comfort Inn Benalla offers classic country hospitality and is the perfect base for exploring everything the surrounding region has to offer. At the end of a day of sightseeing, relax in the indoor heated pool and spa, or cook up a BBQ in the guest recreation area. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi and parking.