By Jeremy Rochow
Last updated on: January 17, 2019 at 8:18 am
As a major linking road between Adelaide and Melbourne, it’s no surprise motorists don’t often stop along the Dukes Highway on the way to their destination. But maybe they're missing out.
We think it’s worth making a little time to explore the towns along the 190km stretch of road, even if it’s just to break up the long drive east or on your return home to Adelaide. It might even appease the children in the backseat who’ve been asking if “you’re there yet” for the past hour.
To help you, we’ve come up with 4 towns you should stop at along the Dukes Hwy.
The Dukes Hwy begins at Tailem Bend, making it a good place to chill out before you tackle the long stretch of bitumen that lays before you.
If you’re interested in history or with the family, a visit to Old Tailem Town is a must-do.
This pioneer village has re-created life during Australia’s early years, and in exploring it you can get a glimpse into what it was like for the settlers of South Australia from 1860 to 1960.
If you want to take in this spooky site at night, book a ghost tour of Old Tailem Town.
Are you looking for something with a bit more adrenaline? Burn some rubber at the new Bend Motorsport Park – well, two-wheel pedal-powered rubber at least. For a small fee, you can ride around the iconic 7.77km circuit.
Although Coonalpyn is one of the smallest towns along the Dukes Hwy, it’s also home to one of Australia’s biggest murals.
Internationally-renowned artist Guido van Helten’s portrait of five local children at play on the town’s 30m-high Viterra grain silos have become a highlight for motorists driving along the Dukes Hwy.
The artwork’s popularity has resulted in a Coonalpyn Silo Café opening, providing tourists with a fresh cuppa while they admire the portraits. The Coonalpyn Silo Café is open 7 days a week, 6am to 6pm, except Sundays when trading starts at 7.30am.
You’re unable to climb the silos at Coonalpyn, so we’ve found another vantage point along the way that’ll give you a beautiful view of the region.
When you get to Keith, you’ll need to take a 12km detour south to Mount Monster Conservation Park, which boasts a huge granite outcrop.
A short hike to the summit offers uninterrupted views of the natural bushland and wheat fields extending to the horizon. Trust us, it’s worth the detour – particularly when the wildflowers are blooming in spring.
As its name suggests, this is the last town before you hit the Victorian border, so stock up on all those SA products you’ll miss in the eastern states like Farmers Union Iced Coffee and Fruchocs.
If you just want to take a short break from driving, stop at the Bordertown Recreational Lake. Walking trails have been developed around the lake and past three public artworks – the Crooked Tank, the Horse Fence and the Sluice Gates.
Fishing is also a popular past time here and the lake is regularly stocked with yabbies, redfin and perch, so you can cast a line if you’ve packed your rod.
Note: Take your time while driving along the Dukes Hwy, as it’s a busy freight corridor and a single-lane highway until you reach the Victorian border. If you’re looking to overtake, you should take a few precautions. Only overtake when the white line nearest to the driver is broken and ensure the road ahead is clear for an adequate distance.