The Hume.

by Lori Dwyer on February 4, 2014 · 10 comments

We do a lot of driving. The odometer on my car has flicked through 10,000 kilometres in the six weeks since Christmas.

There’s a lot of fun to be had, going places you’ve never been before. We have a whole new state to explore.

But most of our driving is on the Hume Highway. The 776 kilometres between Melbourne and TinyTrainTown is a long, long drive. With nobody to share the driving, I can’t do it all in one day. So we stay overnight in one of the tiny towns between here and there. The kidlets have become seasoned travellers and motor-inn connoisseurs.

Tarcutta, Holbrook, Gundagai and Jugiong. Albury, Wodonga, Yass, and Goulburn. I’ve made a concerted effort to stop in a different place every time, booking rooms the night before to get them as cheap as possible. It seems pointless and boring to stay in the same place all the time, when there’s so much to be seen.

I love the tiny townships that do the edges of the highway between Sydney and Melbourne. There’s a funny vibe to them- a sadness that comes from the highway bypassing them. Small service stations seem to be run down and overpriced compared to the huge pit stops that don’t require driving off the main road. But they are quaint, their staff friendly and appreciative of our business. Every ice cream we buy is accompanied with a smile.

“This is an adventure”, I tell the kidlets, the same way my mum used to say it to me. “Let’s go see what we can find!”

We assess the various available playgrounds in each of the tiny towns. We find things that are beautiful and sad and different. The old, wooden rail bridge in Gundagai. The tiny sandstone church in Bookham. The truck drivers’ memorial in Tarcutta.



The stone church in Bookham


The kidlets love hotels, no matter how trashy they may be. It’s always exciting for them, checking in and receiving the key, finding the room number. Inspecting the one-room-and-a-bathroom in each of our accommodation. Some are lovely. Some are awful. It never matters, either way. We hang around, eating take away food for dinner and watching movies on the iPad until we finally all feel asleep. Some nights it’s as late as eleven o’clock. Not that it matters- they make up the sleep they’ve missed the next day in the car, giving me a few blessed hours of silence to listen to audio books. (Audio books are expensive. But the older they are, the less they cost, so I find myself, for the first time ever, ingesting the classics. 1984. Pride and Prejudice. Tears roll down my cheeks as I listen to the heartbreaking, surprising end of The Great Gatsby).

It must be sad, to live in one of these tiny, just-off-the-highway villages that have had their livelihood stripped away when the road bypassed them. Exploring is fun for all of us. And it keeps us adaptable. I like to think I’m teaching my kids that happiness is not dependant on location. We can be happy anywhere, no matter how small and deserted-feeling the town we are in is, no matter how crappy the motel room.

Happiness is us, exploring together. Tasting the world one town at a time.



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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Theresa February 10, 2014 at 12:10 am

You can borrow audio books from your local library – I download them regularly off their website, and play them in the car. Free!


Sheri Bomb February 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm

I am 25 and while I am no jetsetter I’ve certainly stayed in my fair share of hotels and yet I find them exciting also. I love going through all the draws and cupboards, seeing what’s in them, trying the bath products and checking out the minibar (even though I will never buy from it because EXPENSIVE).
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Carly Findlay February 6, 2014 at 7:56 am

I lived in a little town off the Hume. My parents still do. The road name has changed from the Olympic Hway to the Old Olympic Way to Gerogery Road since the bypass came in.
The benefit of the bypass is less b-double trucks on those narrow country roads, it’s made them safer.’
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Anonymous February 5, 2014 at 7:34 pm

This post brought back so many memories for me.

My father always liked to get off the beaten track or got bored with the same route and was very creative how we got to our destination. We’d end up in Harden, Cootamundra, Bookham and Wagga. I loved Berrima but my favourite drive was through the NSW South Coast.
We drove from Sydney to Melbourne frequently to visit relatives and did so before the Hume Highway was completed in 1986 (I’m old!). I miss driving through all those small towns however deserted they are now and I’m thrilled to read you and your gorgeous kids are having similar adventures to what we did.

They were great times!

All the best Lori x


Aaimi Morris February 5, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Yes Manda the dog still sits on the Tucker Box at Gundagai.

Lori, next time you are this way please give us a call. Lots to do out on our small property.

Welcome to stay any time.


Kylie February 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm

I second the library for audio books. My library also has a digital borrowing option which allows me to download audio books to my phone which I then blue tooth through a blue tooth speaker or the car stereo, depending on which car I’m in.


Manda February 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm

The libraries have a pretty good range of audiobooks now – if you can count on getting through one in a month =) Sounds like you’re doing enough driving to lick it in a single trip.

Is there still a dog on the tuckerbox at gundagai?


Tamsin February 5, 2014 at 4:57 am

You will have to come through temora one day. You could crash here and visit the aviation museum. You are always welcome xo


Kristina February 4, 2014 at 11:16 pm

This is lovely… the life you’re giving your children is remarkable! They’re lucky kids, to have you as their Mom.


Vanessa February 4, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I love random small towns. You find the coolest things. Like water slides built into hillsides :)
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