Bypassed towns along the Hume Highway
You’ll find a number of unique tourst attractions off the Hume Highway, the major freeway from Sydney to Melbourne. Originally a roughly formed bullock track, over time it became the major arterial road between the two cities. Over the years, bypass routes solved the problems associated with high traffic volumes through the towns.
Taking the traffic away from the towns, however also presented a new challenge for these rural communties. While the B-double trucks were no longer thundering down the main street 24 hours a day, nor were the visitors stopping in town and spending money on their way down the highway.
A number of towns came up with unique ideas to entice travellers to detour through their town on their trip. Many successfully draw on Aussie folklore to develop unique tourist attractions off the Hume Highway.
Big Merino, Goulburn
Just outside Goulburn ewe will find a 15 metre high concrete ram, known as “Rambo” to the locals. Originally built in 1985 as a monument to the region’s wool industry, “Rambo” became a major tourist attraction for the town.
However In 2007, the affects of the bypass began to hit. Rambo was moved adjacent to the highway service centre, just off the Hume Highway. The complex has a museum showcasing 200 years of the local wool industry and a gift shop. Visitors can climb to the top and look out across the surrounding area through the rams eyes.
The Dog on the Tuckerbox – Gundagai
“And the dog sat on the tuckerbox, nine miles from Gundagai”, according to a popular Australian folk song.
Well, actually the tourist attraction at Snake Gully is actually a little over 4 miles or 7 kilometres from Gundagai.
Then Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons unveiled the bronze cast statue in 1932 as a tribute to pioneers and “bullockys” who made the highway possible. During the pioneering days, the highway was little more than a treacherous bush track.
The Dog on the Tuckerbox memorial was inspired by the folk song “Bullocky Bill”. The bush ballad tells the woes of a drover whose dog had sat on his lunch as the final misfortune of the day.
Today the The icon is a popular stop off between Sydney and Melbourne, with garden areas to stroll through, a cafe and a gift shop where you can pick up a little “Australiana”. It was also the fitting place for four hungry dogs to stop for a drink and a bite to eat on our way to Melbourne.
HMS Otway, Holbrook
Holbrook council’s solution to the bypass problem was to acquire a submarine and partially submerge it in a local park. Not the sort of thing visitors expect to find in an inland rural town.
The HMS Otway, an 89 metre long Oberon class submarine was installed as a memorial to submariners. Holbrook became known as “The Submarine Town”
Local resident, Leiutenant Norman Holbrook was a submariner and the first member of the Royal Australian Navy to receive the Victoria Cross during World War I. The town was subsequently renamed from Germanton in his honour.
When looking for a unique tourist attraction to draw travellers off the Hume Highway, the local community conceived the idea of establishing a Submariners Memorial. The RAN gifted the fin of the decommissioned HMS Otway to the town of Holbrook during the 1990’s.
Subsequent community fundraising and a donation from the Holbrook family enabled the town to acquire the outer skin of the Otway. The submarine was installed in Germanton Park and the memorial was dedicated in 1997.
The “Pawesome Foursome” enjoyed a wander around the submarine during a recent road trip. The complex also has a cafe, as well as a museum hosting photographs, artefacts and a mock interior to give visitors an idea of what life would have been like in a submarine.
You would hardly expect to find a submarine submerged in an inland park
Famous cartoonist, Ken Maynard regularly featured the fictitious “Ettamogah Pub” in his drawings.
The recreation of the cartoon pub was built in 1987 at Table Top, just outside of Albury. The aim was to provide a family friendly hotel road stop, which has become a local tourist attraction.
Lines from the famous cartoons are emblazoned on the sloping pub walls . A 1932 Chevrolet on the roof is a nod to a cartoon in the series. When a flood carried the car onto the roof, the owners couldn’t be bothered to get it down.
Today you can still stop and have a beer and counter meal at the recreated Ettamogah pub. The site also offers cheap campsites for highway travellers, with a Ken Maynard museum and gallery.
Etamogah Pub. Albury
Ned Kelly, Glenrowan
The Victorian town of Glenrowan’s bid to attract tourists off the highway is as controversial as its subject was in real life.
Outside the post office you will find a six metre high statue of bushranger Ned Kelly. This was the site of the infamous Kelly gang’s final siege, when the gang emerged from the bush clad in home made armour. Terrified locals were kept hostage in the town inn for several hours during the seige. Three of the gang died in the shootout that followed. Kelly was captured and subsequently hung for the murder of 3 policeman in November 1880.
The statue has been as controversial as Ned Kelly himself. Some hail him as a battler who fought against convention. Others condemn him as a cold blooded murderer, who should not be immortalised. Love him or loath him, his place in our folk history is here to stay.
The statue successfully draws on the bush legend to entice travellers off the highway since it was unveiled in 1992. Nearby you will find a host of “Kelly themed” attractions, as well as a gift shop and “Kate’s Cottage”, a replica of the Kelly homestead
Benalla ceramic mural
Rather than attracting tourists with their “Kelly Gang” links, the Benalla community has chosen artwork as a tourist magnet.
While taking the “Pawesome Foursome” on a walk around the lake at Benalla we stumbled upon an intriguing terracotta sculpture.
The Benalla Ceramic Mural is perhaps one of the largest community artwork projects in Australia. Commenced in 1983, it has taken 27 years to complete with the work of visiting and local artists and input from local indigenous groups.
The ceramic and terracotta Gaudi-like structure provides hidden caves to explore, a small amphitheatre and a viewing platform over the arts precinct and gardens.
Benalla Ceramic Mural
Exploring nooks and crannies
These are just a few of the ingenious tourist attractions local communities conceived to draw tourist traffic back into their bypassed towns off the highway. They all certainly serve as a pleasant rest spot on the long Sydney to Melbourne trip.
Read Also: Travelling with dogs