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Tarcutta, NSW

Once a major trucking stop on the Hume Highway, now bypassed.

Located on the Hume Highway 422 km south-west of Sydney and 455 km north-east of Melbourne, Tarcutta is as close to the halfway point between the two capital cities as is possible. Consequently, for most of its life, the small town has been a stopping point for travellers wanting to take a much needed break. In recent times it became a hugely important stop and changeover point for truckies wanting to have a meal and a break before heading off to their destination. In 2011 it was bypassed which has meant that the town is now quiet. The main attraction is the genuinely interesting, and very sad, Truck Drivers Memorial which is a monument to "the memory of truck drivers who have been accidentally killed while performing their duties in the transport industry". There are plans to build a Transport Heritage Centre. Although it is now bypassed many truck drivers still insist that the hamburgers and meals available at the cafe in town are the best on the Hume Highway.

Location

Tarcutta, which is 240 m above sea level, is located on the Hume Highway 422 km south-west of Sydney and 455 km north-east of Melbourne.

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Origin of Name

The town takes its name from a property which was established in the area in 1839 by Geoge MacLeay. The property was named Tarcuttah. The likely origin of the name is a Wiradjuri word meaning either "grass seed" or "damper made from grass seeds".

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Things to See and Do

Truck Drivers' Memorial
In 1994, when Tarcutta was still a vital stopping point for truck drivers on the Hume Highway, Re-Car Consolidated Industries established a monument to, as the plaque says, "the memory of truck drivers who have been accidentally killed while performing their duties in the transport industry". It was opened by the New South Wales Minister for Roads and Transport and has a plaque commemoration Slim Dusty's iconic trucking song "Lights on the Hill" with the message "The legendary Slim Dusty and Joy McKean are patrons of the Re-Car National Truck Drivers' Memorial. They are eternally honoured for their dedication to country music, enjoyed for decades by Australian truckies, and for their unselfish commitment to this memorial". It is well worth visiting as, like a war memorial, it records far too many deaths and far too many young drivers killed on the roads. For more information and lists of the names on the memorial check out http://www.tarcuttamemorial.com/.

Australian Road Transport Heritage Centre
There are plans to build a Heritage Centre with a brief as follows: "The Australian Road Transport Heritage Centre (ARTHC) will be an iconic national transport museum dedicated to the preservation, upkeep and display of vehicles and equipment that played a role in the development of the Australian road transport industry.

In particular the ARTHC will showcase the vehicles that operated on the Hume Highway and tell the stories from the Hume Highway and Tarcutta." Check out the website - http://www.arthc.com.au - for details about its official opening. It is planned to cost $4 million but there are still problems raising the money.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Kyeamba and the Travellers Joy Inn
Further south on the highway is Kyeamba. The first European to occupy the Kyeamba area was John Smith who, by 1839, had constructed a bark hut and had 30 acres were under cultivation. His homestead, located close to the Hume Highway, was converted to an inn, known as the Traveller’s Joy, later also known as the Traveller’s Rest and later still as Kyeamba Inn. The mounted police had an office in Kyeamba in the 1850s. Kyeamba acquired some notoriety in the 1860s when the bushranger 'Mad Dan' Morgan decided that the Travellers Joy Inn was a suitable stopover for a hungry and thirsty bushranger. The inn, which is now a private property, can be seen on the right hand side of the road (if you are travelling south) about 4.5 kilometres south of Kyeamba.

Tarcutta Hills Reserve
Established in 1999 and located 15 km south of Tarcutta the 432 ha Tarcutta Hills Reserve is owned and managed by Bush Heritage Australia. This reserve provides an important remnant of white box woodland with a relatively untouched grassy understory: a last refuge for endangered birds like the Swift Parrot, the beautiful Squirrel Glider and as many as 11 other threatened wildlife species including turquoise parrots, brown tree creepers, superb parrots, speckled warblers, black-chinned honey eaters, hooded robins and diamond firetails. It is known that at least 82 bird species use the area. The site is listed on the Register of the National Estate. It protects squirrel gliders, the spotted grass frog, tree skinks, small-leaf bush pea, cypress pine, mugga ironbark scribbly gum and red stringybark red box. Check out http://www.bushheritage.org.au/places-we-protect/state_new_south_wales/reserves_tarcutta_hills for more details.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area around Tarcutta had been occupied by members of the Wiradjuri Aboriginal language group.

* The area was first explored by Europeans when Hume and Hovell passed through it on their way from Sydney to Port Phillip. On 7 January 1825, near the present site of Tarcutta, they were met by a groupof Wiradjuri people  who had 'begged the travellers would accompany them to their camp so the women and children might have an opportunity of seeing them.'

* By 1835-37, 'Hambledon', a U-shaped slab house was built at Tarcutta. It was the first inn and post office to be built between Gundagai and Albury.

* In 1836 Thomas Hodges Mate settled on land which is now known as Tarcutta. He was searching for cattle which had strayed.

* In 1839 Geoge and Hanen MacLeay established a property in the area which they named Tarcuttah.

* In 1849 the Tarcutta Post Office was opened.

* In 1850 Bishop Broughton came through the area and stayed at Thomas Mate's house.

* By the 1880s the locals were actively lobbying to get a branch line through Tarcutta and on to Tumbarumba.

* In 1890 Tarcutta was officially proclaimed as a village.

* By 1917 the railway reached Tarcutta.

* In 1987 the branch railway line from Tarcutta to Tumbarumba was closed.

* In 1994 the Australian Truck Drivers Memorial Wall was established and funded by Recar "in memory of truck drivers and those directly related to the industry who have lost their lives".

* In 2011 Tarcutta was bypassed. It was one of the last stretches of road on the Hume Highway to be turned into dual carriageway.

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Visitor Information

There is no visitor information in Tarcutta. The nearest is the Gundagai Visitor Information Centre, Carberry Park, Sheridan Street. It is open Monday to Friday, 8.00 am - 5.00 pm, Saturday-Sunday 9.00 am - 1.00 pm and 2.00 pm - 5.00 pm, tel: (02) 6944 0250 or (02) 6944 0251.

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Useful Websites

There is no dedicated website.

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Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

7 suggestions
  • If I wanted to trace my family history, which organisation should I write to? My ancestors are John George and Jane Galvin, George and Anne Galvin, Thomas Galvin and family. I believe they all lived at Oberne in the 1800s.

    Diane Harris (nee Galvin)
    • Hi Diane, There is no Historical Society in Tarcutta but there are good ones in both Gundagai and Wagga. I would contact either the Gundagai Museum which is open daily 9.00 am – 3.00 pm, tel: (02) 6944 1995 or the Wagga Museum of the Riverina, tel: (02) 6926 9655. One or both should be able to help you.

      Bruce Elder
  • I recently visited an Art and Craft Coop in the main road through. However I cannot find any information about this lovely handmade craft shop. Can you help? This should be advertised as it is a good community craft shop.
    Thank you

    Christine
  • Hope to move there very soon. Looking forward to a bit of a quiet life.

    Rob
  • About 1956 the season was so wet the trucks were getting bogged on the highway. I think they closed the highway for a couple of weeks.

    J McCallum.
  • Tarcutta is the home of the Farmhouse Industries Shop. This is a voluntary co-operative of artisans around the district. The shelves and racks are brimming with pottery; wood turning; home-spun, hand-dyed merino wool; children’s clothes’; baby knits’; football beanies; home-made jam; yummy slices and so much more. There is plenty of parking and a visit is sure to delight

    Rosemary G
  • I am travelling through Tarcutta on the 28th of September and need to find accomodation for 1 horse for that night. The horse accomodation at the Tarcutta motorinn is full so if any locals know of someone in the area that could help that would be great.

    Lisa Rink