The Hume Highway (Hume Freeway) (M31) is one of Australia's most important and notable interstate highways which runs for 880 km inland between Sydney and Melbourne. It is part of the Auslink National Network and is a vital link for road freight to transport goods to and from the two cities as well as serving Albury, Wodonga and Canberra.
The hume highway is a particularly fast route for hitching; there is a lot of traffic going all the way between these cities. Melbourne and Sydney are the largest cities in Australia and the Hume is the shortest route between them, so there is a lot of truck traffic as well as people travelling between the cities. If you get lucky, you may be able to catch a ride all the way.
Hitching this route is facilitated by heaps of large and well-advertised rest stops that combine service stations and fast food restaurants. Most people taking a break along the highway will choose to use one of these stops so they make for great places to get a ride. Generally the personal approach works better then standing by the highway: when people are travelling slowly or stopped at a rest point, they have time to evaluate you and decide whether or not they'll give you a lift. Talking to people can also demonstrate that you're safe to give a ride to. In contrast, even if someone driving past would give you a lift, they only have seconds to decide to stop and pick you up.
Although the Hume Highway is a relatively easy route to hitchhike, the following is a detailed servo-by-servo description of the route:
- You can follow the directions on the Melbourne page to get to the hitch spot, or just take a suburban train to Craigieburn station, exit the station, turn right and walk north about 500m along Walters Street to the end. The Hume Highway (S55) is about 20m further, continue walking along the side of the highway, cross Craigieburn Road West and you will see a long space for cars to stop on the side of the Highway just after the traffic lights. It usually only takes about 15mins to get a ride from here to the first servo.
- 24km further [24km total]: The BP Wallan (and Subway, KFC) is about 4kms after the Wallan township, so dont accept a ride from Craigieburn to the Wallan township unless you want to walk 4kms or so to the servo. Although its a large servo and a great place to find a ride, you will rarely get dropped off here because most rides you get from Craigieburn continue towards Caltex Tallarook, on the way to Seymour anyway.
- 40km further [64km total]: The Caltex Tallarook and Roadhouse about 7km before Seymour is a large servo and a good place to find a ride further. Get out here if your driver is heading to Seymour or going up the Goulburn Valley Freeway (M39) towards Shepparton.
- 64km further [128km total]: Coles Express Euroa (and MacDonalds) is about 2kms after Euroa township and on the southbound side of the freeway, but northbound traffic sometimes stops here. Get out here if your driver is going to Violet Town or Benalla.
- 73km further [200km total]: BP Glenrowan (and MacDonalds). This servo is about 12km before Wangaratta. Get out here if your driver is going to Wangaratta, Myrtleford, Beechworth, Yackandandah, Wodonga or Albury. If you are hitching at night definitely get out here if you driver doesnt at least go to Gundagai. The Caltex's at Holbrook and Tarcutta are small and dont get much traffic through the night, you can try your luck, but even during the day they are relatively quiet petrol stations off the freeway. In any case, to minimise your risk of getting stuck, you want to aim to get a ride at least to the Gundagai from the Glenrown BP servo.
- If you end up with a ride that will go up the Olympic Highway (A41) towards Wagga Wagga during the day and you missed the BP Glenrowan servo, you can ask the driver to drop you at the Hume Freeway onramp coming from Wagga Road about 10kms north of Albury, but you might be thumbin' it there a while until you get a ride, especially at night (I dont think there are even street lights there). It is more advisable to stop at Glenrowan BP servo and look for a ride going at least to the Coles Express at South Gundagai.
- 151km further [351km total]: The Holbrook Caltex servo and truck stop is a small truck stop off the freeway, at the northern end in the Holbrook township. Do not aim to stop here as getting a ride can take some time because of little traffic, but if you do end up here it is worth asking around the truck drivers in the diner and in the truck parking lot at the back. Its also quite good table diving in the diner! I once waited about an hour here, with most traffic being locals I ended up walking the 1km to the Hume Freeway onramp and got a ride in about 10min to Sydney.
- 66km further [417km total]: The township of Tarcutta marks the halfway point between Melbourne and Sydney. The small Tarcutta Caltex servo and truck stop here is off the freeway and doesn’t get a lot of traffic. Do not aim to stop here as getting a ride can take some time because of little traffic, but it can sometimes be popular for trucks to stop here. If you do end up here its worth asking around the truck drivers in the truck parking lot at the back.
- 43km further [460km total]: Although the Coles Express South Gundagai (and Hungry Jack's) is on the southbound side of the Hume Freeway, it does aget traffic going both directions. Get dropped off here if your driver is stopping at Gundagai. It is a busy servo and lunch spot, otherwise you might have slightly better luck at the Coles Express by the Dog on the Tucker Box another 9kms up the road.
- 9km further [469km total]: Coles Express by Dog on the Tucker Box (and Subway, KFC etc) is large servo and rest stop on the northbound side of the road which serves both north and southbound traffic. This is a popular place for people to stop either to fill up or stop for food, and it is good place to find a ride further.
- 89km further [558km total]: The Coles Express Yass (and MacDonalds, KFC) is a large servo that gets a lot of traffic heading in either direction. Get dropped off here if your driver is going down the Barton Highway (A25) towards Canberra. If your destination is Canberra get dropped off here to find a lift down the Barton Highway towards Canberra.
- 81km further [639km total]: The 'Big Merino' Coles Express Goulburn (and MacDonalds, Subway etc) is a servo and fast food spot off the highway that gets traffic going both directions. Get dropped here if your driver is going to Goulburn.
- 32km further [671km total]: BP Marulan (and Hungry Jack's, KFC, Roadhaven) is a good servo to find a lift further.
- 25km further [696km total]: Coles Express Sutton Forest West (and MacDonalds) is 25kms after Marulan. Get dropped here if your driver is heading down the Illawarra Highway (A48) toward Woolongong.
- 56km further [752km total]: Pheasants Nest Mobil. Get out here if your driver is turning down Picton Road (B88) towards Woolongong or towards Picton. If your destination is Sydney, get out here if your driver cant drop you at a Sydney suburban cityrail train station, Macarthur station being the closest.
- 85km further [837km total]: The centre of Sydney is another 85km from Pheasents Nest and the nearest Cityrail train station, Macarthur station is about 30kms from Pheasents Nest.
- If you are continuing north up the coast past Sydney you have two main options: you can hitch to a Sydney suburban cityrail train station and take the trains to Wahroonga station to continue hitching north of Sydney on the Pacific Motorway (M1); or you can try to hitch a ride going on the Westlink (M7) west around Sydney, linking up with the M2 Motorway and Cumberland Highway/Pennants Hill Road (A28), and then north up the Pacific Motorway (M1). If you try this option your best bet might be to find a lift going as far as Cumberland Highway (A28) where there is about 5 service stations servicing northbound traffic before the start of the Pacific Motorway (M1), the first being a 7-eleven at Pennants Hill West.
Louisa and Liam covered this in about 12 hours, but it is possible to hitch it in about 9 hours. They waited nearly two hours for the first ride by the side of the Hume Hwy at Craigeyburn, but thereafter got rides within 15~20 minutes each time at rest stops and service stations.