16 October 2023

Travelling in Hume and Hovell's footsteps ... 100 years on and a little more comfortably

| Sally Hopman
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Hume and Hovell track sign

The Hume and Hovell Track starts at Yass, in the NSW Southern Tablelands, and ends at Albury, 426 kilometres further on. Photo: Matt Beaver.

It was the great adventure for European explorers Hume and Hovell in 1824 – travelling from Yass in the NSW Southern Tablelands across to Albury. Why? To discover what really lay south of the Murrumbidgee River.

The hardest of journeys, Hamilton Hume and William Hovell set off with six convict servants on the 426-kilometre journey, including across the Great Dividing Range, that took them more than a year.

They trekked through snow, fire, floods and the most mountainous of terrain – and apparently, to make matters worse, the two men didn’t much like each other which could well have added to the length of the journey.

But they had some wins. They were cited as the first Europeans to encounter the Murray River, see the snow peaks of NSW and Victoria and find good grazing land for new settlers.

Today, thousands of hikers and campers are walking in their footsteps, attempting all or part of the journey which starts at Cooma Cottage in Yass, Hume’s former home, and ends at the Hovell Tree, on the banks of the Murray River, Albury.

It is one of the nation’s most unique, yet challenging treks, and its management, the NSW Department of Lands, wants to keep it that way.

READ ALSO Six awesome bushwalks on your doorstep in the Riverina

A draft strategic plan has been released with interested stakeholders invited to have their say on the track’s future.

Consultation has already been held with local councils, tourism groups, Indigenous organisations, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Forestry Service about the future of the track – now people who use it are invited to have their say.

NSW Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper said the draft plan identified potential opportunities to make the track better for bushwalkers, campers, families and tourists, while supporting regional communities along its route.

“The Hume and Hovell Track is one of NSW’s most significant walks crossing through a range of diverse and beautiful areas including forests, alpine landscapes, wetlands and farmlands,” Mr Kamper said.

“I encourage all interested stakeholders and community members to read the draft plan and provide their feedback to help us make the track one of the best multi-day walks in Australia.”

Rope bridge

Walkers try out the famous Jack Cribb hanging bridge on the Hume and Hovell Track. Photo: Matt Beaver.

Some of the proposals in the draft plan include:

  • Developing more short, medium and longer distance walks to capture the pioneering spirit of the historic expedition
  • Recognise Indigenous stories and provide opportunities for Aboriginal tourism operators to share histories and culture through interpretive tours
  • Improve campsites with better facilities such as tent platforms, toilets, water and camp kitchens
  • Better support walkers with guided tours, transfers between towns and track sections, quality food and wine hamper deliveries, and higher quality accommodation options
  • Improved storytelling along the route
  • Improve the supporting road network to make it more accessible and install better signage.

The NSW Government has invested $337,000 to develop the strategic plan funded by the Department of Regional NSW.

The plan is being developed by Snowy Valleys Council with consultant SMA Tourism, in partnership with Crown Lands and Destination Riverina Murray.

The draft plan is available online for comment.

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on About Regional.

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