The Hume Highway - From Sydney to Melbourne

The Hume Highway - From Sydney to Melbourne

Travelling to Australia? One of the best driving routes you can take is the Hume Highway, running about 850km inland between Sydney and Melbourne. Travel at your own pace, and check out the stunning scenery along the way. Read on for more...

The Hume Highway, also known as the Hume Freeway, is possibly one of the most important roads on the Australian continent. It connects the two largest cities in the country, Sydney in New South Wales, and Melbourne in the State of Victoria.

The Hume Highway derives its name from the Australian Explorer Hamilton Hume, who travelled the route in the early nineteenth century along with travelling companion William Hovell. The pair traversed the area from the present day cities across the "Great Dividing Range" an imposing mountain range, the largest in Australia, and made important discoveries in finding suitable farmland and river gorges for water supply.

Up until the 1920s this stretch of road was known as the Great Southern Highway, when it was changed in remembrance of Hume.

The Hume Highway is a sector of the National Highway System, which spans the whole continent of Australia. The Hume Highway is known as the National Highway 31 in New South Wales and National Highway M31 in Victoria State.

If youre travelling from Sydney to Melbourne, you have a choice of two routes to follow. You could take the Princes Highway (Highway 1), but this has a longer travelling time and distance, of over 1,000km, along the coastline. If you travel on the Hume Highway youll have shorter journey inland, of around 850km, in comparison to the Princes Highway.

Travelling the Hume Highway...

On your drive, you will find that the Hume Highway is in excellent condition, with perhaps nearly 90% of it classed as high motorway standard, and in dual carriageway format. Youll pass through the following towns:

Liverpool, Cambeltown, Camden, Mittagone, Gundagai, and Albury in the State of New South Wales, and Wodonga, Benalla and Seymour in the Victoria State.

It is possible to travel the Hume Highway in one day in a 12 hour drive from Sydney to Melbourne, but youll not get much time to stop off, stretch your legs and check out the scenery. Our advice is to take your time and split your journey into two days.

Take note of the speed limits as you travel the Hume Highway. Outside of the urban built up areas in New South Wales, the general speed limit is 100km on the route from Sydney to Campbelltown, and then 110km to Coolac, then on to Gundagai is 100 km, on the Sturt Highway to Albury is 100km. As you travel into Victoria, the speed limit is 110km all the way to the built up area of Melbourne. Its essential to remember that the roads are highly monitored with speed cameras and patrolled by police, so bear this in mind and drive safely! Road conditions are generally of good quality all year round.

From Sydney city centre, take George Street to the south and take a right at Railway Square into the Broadway area, which will bring you to Parramatta Road. From here pay heed to the road signs for getting onto the Hume Highway. From Parramatta Road take a left onto the Liverpool Road, which is the beginning of the Hume Highway.

You will now be on Highway 31, so follow this route. When you get to Liverpool the Hume Highway becomes part of the Sydney Metroads Network, and is now part of the N7. Follow signs for Canberra and Campbelltown outside Liverpool. You are now on the South Western Freeway, the M5. It then reverts back to the 31, so you are back on the main Hume Highway.

Most of the small towns are bypassed but if you want to stop off, just take the nearest and safest exit on the freeway. The landscape is mountainous and hilly with some scenic views and plenty of places to stop off and enjoy the views!

A popular stop off along the Hume Highway is when you leave the Highway at Mittagong. From here you can view the splendid Southern Highlands, and drop into the charming town of Bowral. As soon as you get to Goulburn, be careful not to veer left onto the Federal Highway, as youll be on the Canberra Road!

Another place you could visit is south west of Goulburn, sandwiched between the towns of Coolac and Tarcutta, is the pleasant town of Gundagai. After Tarcutta, why not stop off at Holbrook where you can see the famous military submarine, the HMAS Otway, perched on dry land! Holbrook is unusual in that its not bypassed on the Sydney-Melbourne route, and has its own set of traffic lights!

You can take another detour off the Hume Highway, in between Benalla and Wangaratta in Victoria, a popular place to visit is Glenrowan. This was the scene of the famous stand-off in 1880 between Ned Kelly and the Australian Authorities, and where the infamous outlaw was arrested, and taken to his execution in Melbourne Gaol.

You could also take a detour from Glenrowan to the scenic Mount Buffalo National Park and Resort and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the mountain and resort. You could also indulge in a spot of skiing to take a break from the journey...if you have time! The quickest way to get to this mountain resort is through Wangaratta.

Continue to travel along the Hume Highway to the state border towns of Albury (New South Wales) and the town of Wodonga (Victoria). The Murray River is located here, at the state border.

The next part f the journey will take you to the Melbourne Metropolitan area. As you head south to Melbourne along the Hume Highway youll notice the magnificent lower Great Dividing Range.

Mairead Foley writes for where you can book car hire at airports, ferry ports, rail stations, cities and towns all over the world.

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