On the Back Road to Tumut
By Leonard Ward, Motoring Editor
4 January 1968 The Canberra Times
Round trip from Canberra of about 165 miles which is worth doing, although travel will not be fast because of road conditions.
There is an added interest to this trip because the outward leg takes one over a route which soon could be properly surveyed and made.
This is the back-country road to Tumut, which not only cuts off many miles
compared with the route via the Hume Highway and Gundagai, but opens up country which will be needed to supply the growing capital with dairy pro-ducts, vegetables and timber.
Once a journey to be undertaken only by the intrepid, preferably with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, now - thanks to the activity of the NSW Forestry Commission - the really difficult parts have been bypassed by comparatively new fire break dirt roads in the pine and hardwood forests, and there is no difficulty involved in covering the route at a moderate speed. However, it would be unwise to tackle it in wet weather.
The outward journey is along the Cotter Road to the point where it branches, the road on the left taking a sharp turn to drop down to the picnic area below the dam.
The journey is continued along the high road to a point in the mountains about 30 miles from Canberra known as Piccadilly Circus. Here is the boundary of the Australian Capital Territory with NSW and here also the road divides, the one to the left going to Mount Franklin.
The right hand road is taken down the Brindabella Mountain. There are seven miles of this and it is narrow, hard, stony and winding, and care is advised both for the sake of car and occupants and the possibility of meeting upcoming traffic; passing is difficult.
On the left of the road the ground falls away sharply into the lovely valley in which winds the Goodradigbee River, but so dense are the trees that scarcely a glimpse of it is obtained until a mile or two from the bottom when the whole valley opens out in all its grandeur.
The river is crossed by a solid low level concrete bridge and then one is on the forest road, rough in places but easily negotiable.
It winds first through great stands of messmate and mountain ash and then enters the pine forests.
Some 23 miles from Tumut, the road surface changes to formed gravel for 10 or 11 miles and then to a good bitumen surface for the rest of the journey to Tumut. The total run is 75 miles.
The return journey should be made through Wee Jasper, about 45 miles from Tumut.
Again a hard, stony road is encountered and there is scarcely a straight half mile in it, but the variety of scenery, from rolling grazing country to dense pine forests, makes it worth it.
Wee Jasper itself is at the confluence of the Goodradigbee River with the southern arm of the Burrinjuck Dam, and from it the road leads straight through to Yass, but a clearly marked turnoff several miles from Wee Jasper brings one back over a reasonable road to Canberra.
The distance from Tumut to Canberra by this route is about 90 miles.