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TOURING THE OLD HUME HIGHWAY, NSW

BYPASSED BUT
NOT FORGOTTEN
Remembering the Old Hume Highway with fondness, ARR revisits
the towns and villages that once bore the brunt of interstate traffic and
now offer more than just the truckers’ coffee and cold pies of old…
WORDS AND IMAGES: RODERICK EIME

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TOURING THE OLD HUME HIGHWAY, NSW THE OLD HUME HIGHWAY, NSW TOURING

Excellent pub meals at the Criterion, Gundagai.

I
think it’s pretty safe to say that when we go riding
in the countryside, the last thing we want to do
is chug down a bland strip of bitumen dodging
lane wanderers and getting blown sideways by
barrelling B-doubles.
Many of us with the grey evidence of years will
recall the Old Hume Highway (OHH) with a mixture of
vague nostalgia and pure disgust. When I started solo
interstate drives in my little Ford Escort back in the
early ’80s, battling the Hume was not something to
look forward to. It was narrow, twisty and in shamefully
decrepit condition and I still shiver at the memory of
several close calls.
In August 2013, the $250 million Holbrook bypass
signalled the final act of duplication and now we have
the dubious pleasure of driving or riding from Sydney to
Melbourne without having to bother any of those poor
people in Holbrook, Yass, Gundagai or Albury.
Without denying the convenience and safety of
the slick new bitumen, it has removed the arousal of
discovery one usually seeks on a leisurely road trip.
Ride The World group at Razorback Lookout Bypassed sections of the Old Highway can still be
www.ridetheworld.com.au explored - carefully But fear not, there is hope.
The best Foccacia in Berrima.

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THE OLD HUME HIGHWAY, NSW TOURING

Picton, picking up portions of old Route 31 as well as


The Great South Road.
Heading south, kiss the motorway goodbye at Casula
and head along the Camden Valley Way and head through
Narellan into Camden. Out of Camden, pick either the Old
Hume Highway, which retraces the route past the historic
truckers blockade of 1979, or venture a click to the west
to the convict-built Old Razorback Road, which was itself
bypassed in the 1930s. Now that’s a wild ride!
Just a click to the west is the convict-built Old
Razorback Road which was itself bypassed in the 1930s.
Now that’s a wild ride.

SOUTHERN (PIE)LANDS
It’s easy to linger here in the region roughly bounded
by Robertson, Moss Vale, Bowral and Berrima, with its
Restored Art Deco service station, now a great coffee wineries, gourmet produce and lovely riding roads. The
stop, Yass. The famous Paragon Cafe
, Goulburn, is an institutio Pie Festival is held every June but that shouldn’t be
Photo by Ed Krause n
in the rural city.
your excuse to visit only once per year.
Continue out through Bargo and Yanderra and stay
on the Old Hume Highway to Mittagong. The Old South
Road is a great bypass that will take you through Moss
RETRACING THE HUME Goldrushes in the 1850s and the rise of coach travel Vale to Sutton Forest if you’d rather keep going, or swing
Even though it seems like it’s been there forever, the like that of Cobb & Co further underscored the need for west at Alpine and roll through to Berrima on the OHH.
Hume Highway has only officially existed since it was better roads, even though this development was delayed BEST PIE (IMHO): DeliLicious, Bundanoon
officially named in 1928, just two years after the USA’s by the more comfortable rail, and later air, options. STAY: Jellore Cottage, Berrima.
own Route 66, although the Hume didn’t get its #31 Inns, hotels, stables and service depots popped www.jellorecottage.com.au
guernsey until numbering began in the 1950s. up along the route and many of these fascinating old
Prior to its modern life as the Hume Highway, a staging posts can still be seen on the backroads, where GO GO GOULBURN
hotch-potch of roads, tracks and trails existed between the early Hume and Great South roads once wound If you don’t mind a bit of dirt, follow Canyonleigh Road
Sydney and Melbourne, beginning with those carved through the bush. Remote roads also spurned a new out through Brayton and Towrang along the old GSR
out by the namesake explorer, Parramatta-born industry: bushranging. and dawdle into Goulburn, where a bonanza of bypassed
Hamilton Hume and his English sidekick, Bill Hovell. The great challenge now is to ride as much of the old attractions await. Check in to the visitor centre near the
The two didn’t get on that well but still managed to routes and as little of the bland motorway as possible, train station to see what’s open. But note the Railway
stick it out from Sydney to Port Phillip and back in 1824. visiting the little hamlets and rural centres which once Heritage Centre and old brewery are closed. Boo!
Things picked up rapidly after H&H returned with rumbled to the sounds of 18-wheelers and the shrill EAT: Paragon Cafe, www.paragoncafe.com.au
news of favourable pastures to the southwest, which whistle of air brakes all through the night. STAY: Quest Apartments, www.questapartments.com.au
spurred on road building big time, driven by then Here are some clues derived from our recent
Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who was keen to kick the explorations: GUNNING FOR GUNNING
colony along. The “Great South Road” (GSR) was born At Breadalbane ditch the freeway and head along
and gradually evolved into a more or less continuous RAZORBACK the OHH through Cullerin to Gunning, where an
set of thoroughfares that joined Sydney to Melbourne On the way to the NSW Southern Highlands, you can older route will take you through Ben Hall territory
after it was proclaimed in 1835. explore the old route through Narellan, Camden and via Mutmutbilly. Settled in 1821, Gunning was already
happening when H&H set off south.
VISIT: The Picture House Gallery and Bookshop owned
Ornate Bailey’s Garage at Gunning.
by actor Max Cullen

Sutton Forest Country Store -


YASS SIR
everything baked on premises. There are lots of old segments of the highway running
parallel to the motorway that can be explored, but do
so carefully as many segments are now divided by gates
and grids. The route through Manton along Yass Valley
Way will see you safely into Yass (bypassed in 1994).

JUMP FOR JUGIONG


After a glance at the rusting relics at Robinson’s of
Bookham, make a point of stopping in at Jugiong, one
of the smaller towns bypassed in 1995 but refusing to lay
down and die. The Sir George Hotel and Long Track Pantry
Fat Boy takes a break at the Razorback Inn Robertson Pie Shop and owner, Will,
with more exquisite creations

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TOURING THE OLD HUME HIGHWAY, NSW THE OLD HUME HIGHWAY, NSW TOURING

"ANYONE WHO HAS


DRIVEN THE OLD
HUME, MEANDERING
FROM TOWN TO TOWN,
CRUISING DOWN
THEIR MAIN STREETS,
WINDING AROUND
HILLS, DUCKING UNDER
AND OVER RAILWAY
LINES, WILL KNOW ITS
Borambola Wines.
GLORIOUS SECRET
— IT WAS NEVER A
HIGHWAY EXCEPT
IN NAME. RATHER, IT
Rosie at the Dog on the
Tuckerbox is a great sup
porter of local produc
e.
LINKED INLAND CITIES,
Photo by Ed Krause
TOWNS, VILLAGES,
HAMLETS AND DOTS
ON MAPS — FOR THE
are highlights of any Hume journey and are enormously
popular with trailer-toting nomads and day-trippers alike.
EARLY ROADS WENT
VISIT: Long Track Pantry, www.longtrackpantry.com.au NOT WHERE THEY
PAT THE DOG AT GUNDAGAI SHOULD, BUT ONLY
With a gorgeous old main street with true country charm,
Gundagai was bypassed back in 1977 when the big
WHERE THEY COULD."
Sheahan Bridge relieved the poor old wooden viaduct
that carried everything for 80 years prior. If you rode a
– Peter FitzSimons 2013
motorcycle across that bridge back in the day, take a bow.
VISIT: Dog on the Tuckerbox Lolly Shop,
www.thedogonthetuckerbox.com
STAY: Flash Jacks Boutique Hotel,
www.flashjacks.com.au or Hillview Farmstay, ALL-STOP ALBURY
Tumblong (great for groups), We finish our NSW sector at the twin towns of
www.hillviewfarmstay.com.au Albury-Wodonga, where there is plenty to see and do.
EAT: Criterion Hotel STAY: Waverley BNB (secure garage),
www.waverleybnb.com.au
DIVE HOLBROOK
If you head out of Gundagai, through Tumblong and TRIP NOTES: Small group, guided bike tours are being
detour via Mundarlo (Junee turnoff), you’ll get a taste organised by Ride The World Motorcycle Tours www.
of how folks travelled way back in the day. It’s mostly ridetheworldmotorcycletours.com. NSW Roads and
unsealed. When you cross the Sturt Highway, you’ll find Maritime has detailed history and self-ride route guides
the excellent Borambola Winery. at www.rodei.me/R31. Destination and venue details
Holbrook was the last town to be bypassed in 2013 can be found at www.australia.com. ARR
but retains certain notoriety for having an Oberon-class
submarine and museum smack in the middle of town. Disclaimer: The writer received assistance from
Borambola Wines. VISIT: Lady Gail’s Bookshop in the main street. Tourism Australia

Schmokin’ Bikers Cafe on the Old Hume Hwy at Berrima.

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