Sunday History Photo / NSW-Vic

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 07:34
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In the first twenty years of European settlement at Sydney, exploration southwest of Sydney was slow. This area was heavily wooded at the time, especially the "Bargo brush", which was regarded as almost impenetrable. In 1798 explorers (Wilson, Price, Hacking, and Collins) reached the Moss Vale and Marulan districts, but this was not followed up. Any settlement would have to await the construction of an adequate access track, which would have been beyond the colony's resources at the time, and would have served little purpose as a source of supplies for Sydney, due to the time taken to reach Sydney. In 1804, Charles Throsby penetrated through the Bargo brush to the country on the tablelands near Moss Vale and Sutton Forest. On another expedition in 1818, he reached Lake Bathurst and the "Goulburn Plains".
After Charles Throsby's 1818 journey towards present day Goulburn, followed by Hamilton Hume and William Hovell's overland journey from Appin (near Campbelltown) to Port Phillip and return in 1824, development of the Southern Tablelands for agriculture was rapid. The present route of the Hume Highway is much the same as that used by the pioneers.

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The route taken by the Hume Highway to climb from the coast to the Southern Tablelands and thence across the Great Divide is situated between the parallel river gorge systems of the Wollondilly and Shoalhaven Rivers. This country consists generally of a gently sloping plateau which is deeply dissected by the Nepean River and its tributaries. The route of the Highway, by using four high-level bridges to cross these gorges, avoids the Razorback Range, and has minimal earthworks. The climb from the western side of the Nepean River at Menangle up to Mittagong is fairly sustained, a fact that is hard to appreciate at high speed on the modern freeway. The highway climbs non-stop over a distance of 16 km from the Pheasant's Nest bridge over the Nepean River to Yerrinbool, before dropping slightly before the final climb to reach the tablelands at Aylmerton.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered the construction of a road, which became known as the Great South Road (the basis of the northern end of the Hume Highway) in 1819 from Picton to the Goulburn Plains and he travelled to Goulburn in 1820, but it is unlikely that even a primitive road was finished at that time.
The Great South Road was rebuilt and completely re-routed between Yanderra and Goulburn by Surveyor-General Thomas Mitchell in 1833. The Main Roads Management Act of June 1858 declared the Great Southern Road, from near Sydney through Goulburn and Gundagai to Albury, as one of the three main roads in the colony. However, its southern reaches were described as only a 'scarcely formed bullock track' as late as 1858. The road was improved in the mid 1860s with some sections near Gundagai "metalled" and all creeks bridged between Adelong Creek (approximately 10 kilometres south of Gundagai) and Albury.

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Mitchell's route, except for the bypasses at Mittagong, Berrima and Marulan (dual carriageways were completed in 1986) is still largely followed by the current highway. Mitchell intended to straighten the route north of Yanderra, but was not granted funding, although his proposed route through Pheasants Nest has similarities to the freeway route opened in 1980. Mitchell's work on the Great South Road is best preserved at Towrang Creek (10 kilometres north of Goulburn), where his stone arch culvert still stands, although it was superseded in 1965 by a concrete box culvert which in turn was superseded by the current route of the highway when it was duplicated in 1972.

In 1914 the NSW section of the highway was declared a main road. Until it was named the Hume Highway in 1928 it was known as the "Great South Road" in NSW and "Sydney Road" in Victoria. It was named after Hamilton Hume, who with William Hovell were the first Europeans to traverse an overland route between Sydney and Port Phillip, in what later became Victoria.
At its Sydney end, the Hume Highway begins at Parramatta Road, in Summer Hill. This route is numbered as . The first 35 km of the highway was known as Liverpool Road until August 1928, when it was renamed as part of the Hume or Great Southern Highway, as part of the creation of the NSW highway system. Sections of the highway through Sydney's suburbs continue to be also known by its former names of Liverpool Road, Sydney Road and Copeland Street (through Liverpool).
The main Hume Highway effectively commences at the junction of the M5 South Western Motorway and the Westlink M7 at Casula. At its Melbourne end, the original alignment of the MelbourneSydney route followed Royal Parade northward from where it begins at its intersection with Elizabeth Street and Flemington Road. Royal Parade becomes Sydney Road at Brunswick Road and then became the Hume Highway itself at Campbellfield. This ceased to be the designated route of the Hume Highway in 1992, with the completion of Stage 1 of the Western Ring Road.

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Reply By: Member - GeeTee (NT) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 07:51

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 07:51
Interesting read as usual Doug. I know little of the Eastern States and find it enlightening !!

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Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 10:18

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 10:18
Great article Doug - often thought it would be an interesting 4wd trip to follow the old routes of some of these roads.

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Reply By: Off-track - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 11:28

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 11:28
You never fail to disappoint. I have always wondered what it would have been like as a truckie along the Hume back in the early days. There would be many a story to tell I bet.
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Reply By: Stu & "Bob" - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 11:41

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 11:41
Thanks Doug,
Another good read as usual.

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Reply By: Dave(NSW) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 17:34

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 17:34
Great read Doug,
As you may know the Little Sydney Harbour bridge can still be seen from the new highway just south of Gundi and just before the Tumet turn off.
Cheers Dave.

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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 00:13

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 00:13

My first trips up the NSW end was when I had a Car Carrier Adelaide-Sydney in 1972, as time went by and we got the 23ch CB's it made it safer for those bridges as we could call our approach, still had to be careful because not everyone had a CB , especially Caravans.

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Reply By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 18:48

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 18:48
Another good story Doug.
In 1950 it was a difficult 16 hour trip Sydney to Melbourne.
The wife still remembers trying to sleep in the back seat with her brother and sister of her dad''s old chev during the journey. The thumping noise as they ran over rabbits would keep her awake.
Living is a journey,it depends on where you go !
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