Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 12:43 pm
Glenrowan is a small Victorian town that is a popular rest stop for those doing a road trip along the Hume Freeway. As well as being a popular resting spot, it is a great place to learn about one of Australia’s best known bushrangers, Ned Kelly. He roamed Victoria in the 1800s and there are many places he visited. But it is Glenrowan, scene of his final siege and capture that calls people to visit Glenrowan each year. Let me take you on a walk to discover the best things to see and do in Glenrowan – even if you are only stopping in this small town for an hour or two.
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Where is Glenrowan?
Glenrowan is a small town 236 kilometres or 146 miles north-east of Melbourne or is 14 km south of Wangaratta. If you are driving along the Hume Highway, Glenrowan is a short drive from the freeway into town. Signage as you arrive at Glenrowan says it has a population of around 1000 people.
How to Get to Glenrowan
As just mentioned Glenrowan is 236 kilometres north-east of Melbourne. You can reach it by travelling along the Hume Freeway then taking one of the freeway exists that will lead you to Glenrowan. It takes around 2.5 hours to drive from Melbourne, which is the best way to get there. Having your own car will also provide you with the luxury of exploring the area at your leisure. If you don’t have a car, you could hire one. Get details, availability and pricing through DiscoverCars. You can also catch the train that takes you to Wangaratta, then it is the local train or bus you will catch to bring you to Glenrowan.
How Long to Spend in Glenrowan
If you are wondering how long to spend in Glenrowan, this will depend on your interest and plans. If you are driving the Hume Highway, then you may just want to stop in for break. And this is easy to do, as Glenrowan has a fabulous park to let the kids run around in, toilets and few coffee shops to grab a bite to eat. If you are just wandering Australia on your big lap of Oz, or discovering the state of Victoria then you may want to spend a few hours as there are some great things to see and do in Glenrowan. Many of the things revolve around Ned Kelly!
Who is Ned Kelly?
Edward Kelly was an Australian bushranger, outlaw, gang leader and convicted police-murderer. He was was born sometime between December 1854 and June 1855 – the exact date is unknown, in Beveridge, Victoria. You may notice a sign for Beveridge as you are driving along the Hume Freeway. It is a small town some 40km (25 miles) north of Melbourne. Ned was known for wearing a suit of bulletproof armour during his battles. His life of crime began when he was only 14 for assault. Over the years he robbed banks and had shootouts with police, The last shootout was in Glenrowan and this is where he was captured then taken to Melbourne for trial. He was tried, found guilty and executed in Melbourne on 11 November 1880. He was hung in Melbourne Gaol which you can visit while in Melbourne. You will see at Melbourne Gaol where he was hung and the death mask they took after the execution. His last words were ‘Such is Life’.
Ned Kelly and Glenrowan
The best place to learn more about Ned Kelly and his gang is in Glenrowan. As you arrive in the small town every store along the main street has some reference, either their name, memorabilia or a statue of Ned Kelly out the front. So there are many photo opportunities to get a photo of Ned in his armour. The best photo option is to stand in front of the 6 metre tall statue of Ned that is in front of the Post Office and looks like it is guarding the town. This statue portrays Ned in his metal armour and apparently this is the only time he wore it – for the siege in Glenrowan.
What to See and Do in Glenrowan
See the Ned Kelly Statue
You cannot miss the statue of Ned Kelly. He is standing tall, rifle in hand outside the Post Office guarding town.
Ned Kelly Discovery Hub
The Ned Kelly Discovery Hub was opened in September 2023. It’s design is quite unique. For a while I stood looking at it wondering why it was designed like that. Then my son said “it looks like his helmet”. And the more you look at it, you can see the resemblance. But I have no evidence of this, it is just what my son thought! I should have asked and I will next visit! At the Discover Hub, you get a fabulous insight into Ned Kelly and his relationship with Glenrowan. Inside the building you can wander and immerse yourself into the information about Ned Kelly. There is a timeline explaining the events in his life and times culminating in his capture in Glenrowan and his death by hanging in Melbourne.
Ned Kelly Discovery Hub looks like Ned’s head armour!
Inside Ned Kelly Discovery Hub
Visit the Ned Kelly Museum and Homestead
A popular thing to do in Glenrowan is to visit the Ned Kelly Museum. In my opinion it is a little gem with many authentic items to view from the bush ranging era. The museum also conducts a show which takes you through a number of scenes of the happenings of 28 June 1880. The is the date when Ned Kelly and his gang staged a gunfight with Police resulting in his capture. The forty minute show is an interactive production with a range of animatronic characters who lead you through that fateful day. It was thoroughly enjoyable, though my kids were a little scared from some of the loud noises.
The museum is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9am to 4pm. An adult ticket costs $12. After visiting the museum, head to the Ned Kelly Heritage Siege Precinct Walking Trail.
Ned Kelly Heritage Siege Precinct Walking Trail
View over siege site from the Discovery Hub
The marked spot Ned Kelly was shot and captured
Next, while in Glenrowan Ned Kelly country walk the Heritage Siege Precinct walking trail. A map can be obtained from the Glenrowan Bakehouse and other stores to help you visit such historic sites including Ann Jones Inn (which is where Ned and his gang were holed up). The railway station where he was taken after being shot and captured. And, the actual site of Ned Kelly’s Capture. Just follow the signposts to each site. It should take 1-2 hours to complete the walk depending on your interest.
The Ned Kelly Heritage Siege Precinct Walking Trail is an easy walk. It is very interesting and there are many signs explaining what happened and where. I learnt a lot about Ned Kelly and his gang by visiting the museum, discovery hub and walking the heritage trail. Whatever your perception of him – a criminal, a bushranger, a hero to the less advantaged, it is surreal to stand in the same places he stood and fought for his freedom.
Enjoy a Refreshment in Glenrowan
Once you have visited the museum, discovery hub and undertaken the heritage walk I suggest you relax in one of the local coffee houses and enjoy some local produce. I enjoyed a plate of fresh scones with jam and cream at Dad & Dave’s Billy Tea Rooms. Other places to enjoy a refreshment could be at the Glenrowan Bakehouse, the Vintage Hall Cafe or the Glenrowan Pub.
Glenrowan Wine Region
Wanting something stronger than a coffee? Then you might want to explore the Glenrowan Wine Region. The area is known for full bodied reds, particularly shiraz and fragrant whites – something for most wine lovers.
Baileys of Glenrowan is of note as the Bailey family established this vineyard in 1870. Folklore has it that Ned Kelly was a fencing contractor at the Baileys farm when they were planting their first vines. Today, you can walk around the native garden and historic buildings which includes the original 1870 winery. Also in the area is Morrisons of Glenrowan, Booth’s Taminick Cellars and the Black Dog Brewery if feeling like a beer.
If you haven’t had enough wine tasting venture to the nearby Millawa Gourmet Region where you will find a number of wine growers and a selection of locally grown and made produce such as cheese, olives, mustard and of course wine.
Accommodation in Glenrowan
Accommodation in Glenrowan is pretty sparce with only one hotel in town – the Glenrowan Kelly Country Motel. You can venture 14km north to Wangaratta where there is quite a bit of accommodation. Or you could try the caravan park in Millawa. Check out Booking.com for more accommodation options in the area.
Last Words on Visiting Glenrowan
I hope you enjoy Glenrowan Ned Kelly Country as much as I did. When you drive in to the town you don’t realise the interesting history that exists. So I highly suggest you get off the Hume Freeway and visit this small town and discover some interesting Australian bushranger history. Have you visited Glenrowan? I’d love to hear in the comments.