Roads Of Australia Series - Hume Highway’s history reaches back to Governor Macquarie

If ever a road was steeped in the history of Australian settlement it’s the Hume Highway connecting Australia’s two biggest cities, Melbourne and Sydney. Today it’s an essential route for road freight between the two cities, while also serving Canberra and Albury-Wodonga, but its origins were far more humble.

In the early days of European settlement the Great Dividing Range proved an impenetrable barrier to the southwest of Sydney, with a geological feature, the Bargo Ramp, eventually providing the easiest way to cross the escarpment.

Early pioneers forged a path through the bush with Charles Throsby reaching Lake Bathurst and the Goulburn Plains in 1818. He was followed by Hamilton Hume and William Hovell’s trek from Appin to Port Phillip (later Victoria) in 1824. Those early explorers forged a route that was later followed by the Hume Highway.

Picton to the Goulburn Plains

The Highway had its northern origins in the Great South Road from Picton to the Goulburn Plains, which was ordered by Governor Macquarie in 1819. It was re-routed and re-built in 1833 by Surveyor–General Thomas Mitchell, though its southern reaches were still “scarcely formed bullock tracks” by 1858.

However, by the mid 1860s some sections had been ‘metalled” and the creeks south of Gundagai to Albury had bridges. Those early works have long been superseded, though much of Mitchell’s original route has been followed by the modern highway.

It remained the Great South Road in NSW and the Sydney Road in Victoria until 1928 when it became the Hume Highway after Hamilton Hume who pioneered the route between Sydney and Port Phillip.

Duplicating the highway was a long, drawn out affair that started in 1962 and didn’t finish until 2013. Today it’s a modern dual carriage highway all the way from Sydney to Melbourne, bypassing all towns in NSW and Victoria.

Old Hume Highway 31

That smooth, modern highway is great if you’re trying to drive from one capital to the other in the shortest possible time, but not so good if the journey is as important as the destination.

Nostalgia for the old highway which linked those bypassed communities has seen the emergence of “Old Hume Highway 31”, a not-for-profit group promoting the tourist potential of those regional towns along the route of the old Hume Highway.

The group encourages travellers to take the slow drive between Sydney and Melbourne, stopping at all those bypassed towns and spending time relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere in these great country communities.

 
Length
Runs from
Year
completed
Interesting fact
Hume Highway
807km
Melbourne to
Sydney
Duplication of the highway commenced in the 1970s and finished in 2013
The famous "Dog on the Tuckerbox" is just off the Hume Highway to the north of Gundagai.
 
Hume Highway
Length
807km
Runs from…
Melbourne to Sydney
Year completed
Duplication of the highway commenced in the 1970s and finished in 2013
Interesting fact
The famous "Dog on the Tuckerbox" is just off the Hume Highway to the north of Gundagai.

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Categories: Australia
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