A new organisation wants the Old Hume Hwy to become a tourist attraction in its own right.CHALPAT SONTI July 10, 2014 3:56am
This grainy picture of the (now) Old Goulburn River Bridge was taken in 1958, when the Old Hume Hwy was still in its heyday. The photograph was on the cover of a 1958 Seymour Racing Club racebook dropped in to the Telegraph by a reader.
It’s probably the nation’s most famous stretch of road — and our region, like many others, has failed to capitalise on it.
Or so that’s the thinking behind a new group which is being set up to promote and preserve the Old Hume Hwy.
Even if the concept works just a little, the spin-offs could be great for Tallarook, Seymour and Avenel.
‘‘Old Hume Highway 31’’ is the brainchild of Frank Burke, a man who has spent a lifetime on the road, and if it ends up anything like he hopes it will, we could be seeing the start of something big.
The idea behind it is simple — to turn the old route into a tourist destination.
‘‘My concern is that the Old Hume Hwy is being lost,’’ he said.
‘‘People aren’t going that way any more but it is of immense historical value and unfortunately in Australia we don’t recognise those things as we might. Kids aren’t learning about it in schools and people don’t realise how important it was.
‘‘Most of Australia’s earliest development took place along the Hume Hwy and even the freeway is Australia’s first inter-capital freeway. But when you drive from Sydney to Melbourne there’s nothing anywhere to say ‘this is the Old Hume Hwy’ and that is a real shame.’’
The lack of any signs to point motorists to the route — or even the knowledge of the route itself — as well as getting people back into the towns that lined it are all on the to-do list.
‘‘Between Sydney and Melbourne on the Old Hume Hwy there’s every form of activity except surfing,’’ Mr Burke said.
‘‘Let’s turn these towns into tourist destinations. We can also educate visitors on Australia’s history — the longer we leave it, once it’s gone, it’s gone. We’ve got to give them an incentive to come into these towns.
‘‘If only one per cent of the cars came in because they knew about you through this, you would get 100 extra cars a day. At the moment towns are suffering to different degrees but everyone can benefit from this — it’s not something you can go backwards on.
‘‘And for generations to come, the old highway will still be there. Hopefully they start teaching kids about it again in schools.’’
And he even points to a road safety benefit.
‘‘When people had to go through these towns, they would often stop and they would get a proper rest along the way,’’ he said.
‘‘Now they have a quick dash-and-splash on the side of the road and that doesn’t give them a rest at all really.’’
Mr Burke has done plenty of groundwork — he has registered business names, domain names and even reserved Facebook pages. And the electronic set-up will be accessible from all types of devices — a handy tool for passengers in cars.
But he expects the new entity to be a community organisation, owned by the towns along the route.
It will be headquartered at Yass, fittingly at the National Trust-owned Cooma Cottage, the long time home of Hamilton Hume. That might also quell any interstate sniping.
‘‘Knowing the competition between NSW and Victoria, if we put it in NSW the Victorians would scream and also the other way around,’’ he said.
‘‘But putting it there will take away any interstate rivalry.’’
The idea has the support of the Yass Valley Council, the National Trust made the offer of the headquarters, and representatives from councils (including Mitchell and Strathbogie), historical societies, motoring groups and others along the route have been invited to a ‘‘Foundation meeting’’ at Yass next week.
A car and truck have collided at Barmah-Shepparton Rd in Bunbartha near Medland Rd. Both lanes are closed and people are asked to avoid the area.
The first preliminary final on Saturday saw the Tungamah seniors start their campaign against Waaia at the Rennie Recreation Reserve.
The Aboriginal and wider community is mourning the death of revered Bangerang Aboriginal elder, Uncle John ‘‘Sandy’’ Atkinson.
THREE words were chanted in unison at Hopwood Gardens, Echuca on Thursday night — bring them here.
TRUCKS, cars and vintage machinery took over Rochester Recreation Reserve on Tuesday last week.
KYABRAM’S Margaret and Leonard Flint have come a long way since meeting in the early 1950s.
Avenel win over Nagambie to take top spot
Berrigan Shire councillor Daryll Morris says he has been sickened by some of the vitriol and personal attacks to surface since the council’s proposal to redevelop Finley’s Memorial Hall and School of Arts site was revealed in October last year.
YOU probably wouldn’t expect to find an intensive care nurse running an award winning hotel and brewery, but that’s exactly what you will find when you visit Tooborac.
The preparations for the 10th Cobram Swap Meet have been given a boost with a brand new line marker. The Rotary Club of Cobram, which organise the swap meet, applied for a volunteer grant from the Federal Government, from which it received $4600.
At 77 years of age, popular local golfer Paul ‘Tango’ has claimed his second hole-in-one.
Tuesday, August 16
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