Argyle Road (The Real Hume Highway)

By Herbert J. Rumsey.

The Sydney Morning Herald

21 March 1932

It seems rather a pity that the present main southern road should have been called the "Hume Highway," as, for the greater part of its length, at the Sydney end at any rate, Hume's track is quite distinct from it.

If justice had been done, Sir Thomas Mitchell's name should have been given to the road now in use.

Sooner or later Hume's original track is destined to become an important road, as it offers a more direct road to Canberra, and through it to Melbourne.

Hamilton Hume, in his various trips of exploration from 1814 onwards, took the shortest possible track over the tableland consistent with a southerly direction.

He naturally started from his father's home at Appin, to which the road already existed, via Liverpool and Campbelltown.

Hume was the first to cross the Razorback between Appin and Stonequarry, later called Picton; his route, and that in use for many years afterwards, was via Douglas Park, crossing the Nepean near Menangle.

From Stonequarry the route went, as now, through Bargo Brush to Aylmerton whence it went over the Mittagong Range without going through Nattai (or, as it is now called Mittagong) to Bong Bong. Mitchell made the deviation through Mittagong and Berrima.

After passing through the present site of Moss Vale and Sutton Forest, the road crossed Paddy's River at Jordan's Crossing (near Bundanoon).

Thence the road went via Wingello and Bumballa to the crossing at Barbers Creek, above Glenrock Falls where Hume's sister Elizabeth Barber lived.

After passing through Barber's various properties, comprising Glenrock station, the road went in a southerly direction in a line generally about two miles east of the present Bungonia road from Old Marulan which was laid out by Surveyor Twynam in 1862. Rev. Hassall mentions some of the properties through which this road goes- Futter's "Lumley," Dr Reed's "Inverary," Mr. (afterwards Sir Francis) Murphy's "Jacqua," R. Styles' "Reevesdale," Cartwright's "Windellama," and Sir Thomas Mitchell's "Brisbane Meadow "

It was at Dr. Reed's that Hume and Hovell called for medical stores for their trip to Port Phillip in 1824.

The Argyle road then went via Lake Bathurst and Lake George to Hume's selection, whence Hume and Hovell travelled via Yass and Gundagai (Umuttbee) [sic, H&H did not travel through Gundagai.] to Hobson's Bay.

At Tallong the Argyle road crosses Rowland's line a road to the coast surveyed about 80 years ago, showing a better grade than any existing road, as it travels through the Shoalhaven Valley, without having to cross the coastal range. The opening of this road to traffic would greatly increase the importance of the Argyle road.

The Argyle road was the main road until sometime after Goulburn was discovered, and there were quite a number of deviations from it to get shorter tracks or better roads before the present Southern road was formed.

One of the earliest of these to Goulburn went through Tarlo Gap, coming on to the town from the north-east.

Another road followed Jerrara Creek from the Bungonia road to Rix's Creek, there joining a road from Sutton Forest via Canyon Leigh and Towrang, which came into the town from the south.

In "Settlers and Convicts," a book in the Mitchell Library the writer, Alex Harris, tells of a trip in search of grass for cattle, and "missing the road to the gap at Bulla Melita he found himself on a track leading to the Breadalbane Plains."

Lonely road in early days. The same writer describes a trip towards Sydney about the thirties of last century.

In which they broke a waggon pole near to the foot of the Mittagong Range.

Not another dray came along the road that night, and only one person on foot going in the opposite direction to ourselves.

Next day a horseman came from the Sydney side and told us that Bargo Creek was flooded, and the crossing was no longer possible.

Later in the day a dray came along bearing the body of a man who had tried to show a party that the ford was passable. They were taking him to Bong Bong for burial."

In another place Harris speaks of the crossing at Barber's Creek. "This creek is named after the gentleman whose station is situated at the crossing place. It is quite a sight to see the hosts of travellers that sometimes invade the homestead, where nobody is charged for anything."

George Barber, the hospitable owner of Glenrock, to whom Harris refers in the above paragraph, was Hamilton Hume's brother-in- law, having married Isabella Hume and settled here by the roadside.

Their younger son, Edward Rayworth Barber, fell over the falls at Glenrock or the adjoining cliffs on Boxing Day, 1843, and was killed. His age was only nine years and eight months.

Less than a year later there was another tragedy. George Barber, in trying to cross the Wollondilly in flood on his way home from Goulburn on June 20, 1844, was drowned.

 Father and son are buried in the family vault at old Marulan, and with them the father of Mrs. Barber and Hamilton Hume, who died at Glenrock on August 5, 1855, and Isabella Hume Barber, who lived until 1862 and died at Glenrock at the age of 64 years.

The road deviation via Mittagong is described by H. S. Hassell in his "In Old Australia."

In another place Hassall says: "My old friend George Gregory, who had been with us at St. James' College, was appointed to the district of Duntroon, where the Campbells of Campbell's Wharf had a large station of the name. He had to pass through Bungonia on his way from Sydney, and asked me to accompany him as far as Bungendore."

This illustrates the fact that, in Hassall's time, Bungonia was on the main road. It was in 1849 when the residents of this important old township began to realise that they were being left out of things, for on October 25 of that year they held a meeting, reported, of course, in the "Herald," to protest against their being deprived of a clerk of the peace.