Hume Highway

July 9, 2007

Stretches of asphalt and/or bitumen are not supposed to be evocative (unless they are runways!) but this stretch of road which links Sydney and Melbourne is 880km of highway that invokes a lot of memories when I travel it. Oddly enough it is quite provocative in other ways as well. The foremost memory I have of the Hume is that of joining the highway at Yass at 1 o’clock in the morning and driving to Melbourne. Over the course of the next six hours more than 380 18 wheelers passed me traveling in the opposite direction and I spent the entire trip with one pasted right on my tail while I stared at another only a few metres in front of me. Fortunately on those days many sections of the road were narrow and steep so they moved fairly slowly. I quickly discovered that slipping past one every now and then only reinserted me in between another pair of giants. Tonight the trip, heading in the general direction to Melbourne, was almost all on freeway and the rigs thunder past in a blur of light and sound. Rarely do you ever get caught behind them.

And what on the highway is provocative? A sign pointing to the small town of Exeter took me to primary school and South America (next blog). A section of the highway is a living tribute to Australian Victoria Cross winners. And I can never drive past Gundagai without that confounded song entering my head – and staying for another hundred kilometres or so. And that submarine embedded in the earth is always a quick distraction as you drive through Holbrook.