In Pictures: Hume Highway Reunion Dinner, Sylvia’s Gap Road Run

By: Tamara Whitsed, Photography by: Ben Weston


About 300 people stopped for morning tea on Sylvia’s Gap Road. Photo by John Cant. About 300 people stopped for morning tea on Sylvia’s Gap Road. Photo by John Cant. About 300 people stopped for morning tea on Sylvia’s Gap Road. Photo by John Cant.
Jim Morton’s 1963 J3 Bedford and 1924 Chevrolet. Jim Morton’s 1963 J3 Bedford and 1924 Chevrolet. Jim Morton’s 1963 J3 Bedford and 1924 Chevrolet.
Geoff Rudd’s 1968 AT4 760 Dodge. Geoff Rudd’s 1968 AT4 760 Dodge. Geoff Rudd’s 1968 AT4 760 Dodge.
Ken Reardon travelled from Melbourne in Allalong’s working Freightliner. Ken Reardon travelled from Melbourne in Allalong’s working Freightliner. Ken Reardon travelled from Melbourne in Allalong’s working Freightliner.
John Cant and his son Richard Cant travelled from Sydney in Allalong’s International S3600. John Cant and his son Richard Cant travelled from Sydney in Allalong’s International S3600. John Cant and his son Richard Cant travelled from Sydney in Allalong’s International S3600.
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks9 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks9
A McInerney Kenworth from Tumut. A McInerney Kenworth from Tumut. A McInerney Kenworth from Tumut.
An Atkinson in Terry Plant Hire colours. An Atkinson in Terry Plant Hire colours. An Atkinson in Terry Plant Hire colours.
A sparkling 1990 Kenworth T650 from Churchill Transport at Holbrook. A sparkling 1990 Kenworth T650 from Churchill Transport at Holbrook. A sparkling 1990 Kenworth T650 from Churchill Transport at Holbrook.
From left, Richard Cant, John Cant, Ken Reardon and Trevor Ellwood with an Allalong Freightliner. Photo by John Cant. From left, Richard Cant, John Cant, Ken Reardon and Trevor Ellwood with an Allalong Freightliner. Photo by John Cant. From left, Richard Cant, John Cant, Ken Reardon and Trevor Ellwood with an Allalong Freightliner. Photo by John Cant.
Rex Shiel at the Tumblong breakfast. He travelled more than 9 million kilometres during 53 years on the Hume and other highways. Rex Shiel at the Tumblong breakfast. He travelled more than 9 million kilometres during 53 years on the Hume and other highways. Rex Shiel at the Tumblong breakfast. He travelled more than 9 million kilometres during 53 years on the Hume and other highways.
Dave and Kay Lidgard of Goulburn at the Tumblong breakfast. Dave and Kay Lidgard of Goulburn at the Tumblong breakfast. Dave and Kay Lidgard of Goulburn at the Tumblong breakfast.
Alan and Colleen Jones travelled from Newcastle. Alan and Colleen Jones travelled from Newcastle. Alan and Colleen Jones travelled from Newcastle.
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From left, Ray Lidgard of Moss Vale, Geoff Gilbyof Marulan and Gary Browne of Wagga Wagga. From left, Ray Lidgard of Moss Vale, Geoff Gilbyof Marulan and Gary Browne of Wagga Wagga. From left, Ray Lidgard of Moss Vale, Geoff Gilbyof Marulan and Gary Browne of Wagga Wagga.
From left, Tony Muscat of Yass, John Scott of Wodonga, Paul Flanagan of Wagga Wagga and Jimmy Townsend of Yass enjoy breakfast at Tumblong before the road run. From left, Tony Muscat of Yass, John Scott of Wodonga, Paul Flanagan of Wagga Wagga and Jimmy Townsend of Yass enjoy breakfast at Tumblong before the road run. From left, Tony Muscat of Yass, John Scott of Wodonga, Paul Flanagan of Wagga Wagga and Jimmy Townsend of Yass enjoy breakfast at Tumblong before the road run.
Rex Shiel with ARTHC secretary Daryl Weston at the Tumblong breakfast. Rex Shiel with ARTHC secretary Daryl Weston at the Tumblong breakfast. Rex Shiel with ARTHC secretary Daryl Weston at the Tumblong breakfast.
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Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks23 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks23
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks24 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks24
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks25 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks25
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks26 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks26
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks27 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks27
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks28 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks28
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks29 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks29
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks30 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks30
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks31 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks31
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks32 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks32
Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks33 Hume Highway Reunion Dinner Sylvias Gap Road Run TradeTrucks33

Plans for a truck museum at Gundagai received a boost in June when a Hume Highway reunion dinner and Sylvia’s Gap Road Run raised thousands for the proposal.

 

June 7 at Tumblong, New South Wales, was a cold wintry Sunday morning and the frost crunched under Jim Morton’s feet as he walked from his 1963 Bedford J3 to the Tumblong Memorial Hall.

But by 10am the fog had lifted, the frost had melted, and Tumblong was crammed with trucks and cars lined up for the inaugural Sylvia’s Gap Road Run.

"It was fantastic," says Jim who was among the organisers who served breakfast to about 200 people at the hall.

"I got the biggest shock of my life when all these people turned up. I just couldn’t believe it."

The Sylvia’s Gap Road Run was organised to attract support and funds for the Australian Road Transport Heritage Centre (ARTHC) proposed to be built at Gundagai.

As treasurer of the ARTHC, Jim had tossed and turned through the night, anxious that the time and effort spent organising the event would prove worthwhile.

So he was relieved to see 46 trucks, about 50 cars and close to 300 people gathered at Tumblong.

It was a short run — only 10.5km each way, starting and finishing at Tumblong.

It traced a section of the old Hume Highway which was completed in 1938 and was notorious for accidents until the highway was diverted to the existing dual carriageway in 1983.

Most of this section of the old Hume Highway is now on private land and is inaccessible to the general public, but landowners generously opened their gates for the event.

The road is surprisingly well preserved. With chainsaws, a backhoe, bobcat, tractor and tip truck, it only took volunteers four hours to remove loose rocks and prune overhead limbs during a working bee in the week leading up to the run.

 

Tumblong welcomed the truck invasion as vehicles lined up for the Sylvia’s Gap Road Run.

 

Reminiscing

Several of the older truck drivers attending remembered driving through this section of road during their highway days.

Some joked they might not recognise it in the daylight, but they soon discovered little has changed in the past three decades. The road was just as narrow.

The cuttings were as deep and dark as they remembered and the wrecks of cars and trucks still lay rusting at the bottom of gullies beside the road.

The many restored trucks taking part included Dodges, Fords, Internationals, Macks, Whites Kenworths and Atkinsons. Two fire trucks took part, as did a couple of restored military vehicles.

Cobden, Churchill, McInerney, Allalong, K&S Freighters, Muscat, Whiteday, Menz and Gammage were among the many companies which polished working trucks for the occasion.

Jim and his Bedford travelled at the back of the convoy. He knows Sylvia’s Gap Road as well as anyone. He drove the Bedford through there many times before it was closed in 1983.

"We used to cart cattle and sheep to Wagga sales," he says.

His construction business, Jim Morton Plant Hire, regularly performed road maintenance on the road for the Department of Main Roads in the 1970s and 1980s.

His memories are not all good.

"There was a fair lot of bad accidents over the years," he says.

Jim was regularly called upon to clear accident scenes.

But the road run was an opportunity to focus on the happy memories, camaraderie, nostalgia and postcard scenery. The highlight was passing through the famous cuttings on Sylvia’s Gap.

ARTHC president Kerry Campbell drove a ute to escort vehicles through the cuttings.

About 300 people enjoyed morning tea when the vehicles stopped at Horsley Flat near the foot of Hannah’s Pinch.

Secretary Daryl Weston was impressed with the attitude of those attending the run. He says they all appreciated being allowed to drive through the private property and showed respect for the old road throughout the journey.

The ARTHC gained 17 members over the weekend, bringing the total membership to about 70.

 

Morning tea at Horsley Flat.

 

Fundraiser

The road run was preceded by a Hume Highway Reunion Dinner at the Gundagai District Services Club on the Saturday night which was attended by 176 people. An auction and raffle raised thousands for construction of the proposed museum.

The ARTHC committee’s immediate goal is to purchase land in Middle Street, South Gundagai. In total $1.5 million is need for the project.

The original plan was to build the museum at Tarcutta and the decision to move the project to Gundagai was met with some controversy. The decision was prompted by concerns that the Tarcutta proposal had lost momentum and that it would be difficult to attract sufficient volunteers in the small township.

Daryl says the enthusiasm of Gundagai Shire Council and Gundagai residents also influenced the move.

The Gundagai proposal is less ambitious than the committee’s original Tarcutta plan and is expected to cost about $2 million less than the Tarcutta proposal.

The ARTHC is seeking grants and donations for the project.

It plans to repeat the dinner and road run next year.

Anyone wishing to become a member of the ARTHC or to donate to the Gundagai project can phone Daryl Weston on 0427 756 983 or Jim Morton on 0408 441 495.

 

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