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This area was heavily wooded at the time, especially the "Bargo brush", which was regarded as almost impenetrable.
In 1798 explorers (Wilson, Price, Hacking, and Collins) reached the Moss Vale and Marulan districts, but this was not followed up.
The coast of New South Wales from the Queensland border to the Victorian border is separated from the inland by an escarpment, forming the eastern edge of the Great Dividing Range. To climb from the coast to the tablelands the Hume Highway uses the Bargo Ramp, a geological feature which provides one of the few easy crossings of the escarpment.
In the first twenty years of European settlement at Sydney (established 1788), exploration southwest of Sydney was slow.
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 main alternative route between Sydney and Melbourne is the Princes Highway/Princes Freeway/Princes Motorway route (A1/M1) which follows the coast for most of its length.
This re-numbering for the first time in over 20 years created one continuously signed route along the Hume Highway, having already been signed the M31 in Victoria during the 1990s.
During 2013, the route between Berrima and Prestons was also renamed the Hume Motorway.
In New South Wales during 2013, the National Highway shield, National Highway 31, was replaced with a standard alphanumeric route number, the M31 south of Prestons (along with the A22 east of Liverpool into the Sydney CBD and the A28 for a short length through Liverpool).The Hume Highway, inclusive of the sections now known as the Hume Freeway and Hume Motorway, is one of Australia's major inter-city national highways, running for 840 kilometres (520 mi) between Melbourne in the southwest and Sydney in the northeast.From north to south, the road is called the Hume Highway in metropolitan Sydney, the Hume Motorway between Prestons and Berrima, the Hume Highway elsewhere in New South Wales and the Hume Freeway in Victoria.Although the full length of the Hume Highway is dual carriageway (with at-grade intersections and restricted entry from adjoining land), there are considerable lengths of the highway which are of full freeway standard.Most of these sections are bypasses of the larger towns on the route, where the need to deviate the route to construct the bypass made it practical to deny access from adjoining land and thus provide full freeway conditions.
In addition to these bypasses the sections between Casula (in southwestern Sydney) and Berrima (built 1973–92), and Broadford to Wallan (1976), which both were constructed as major deviations, are also of full freeway standard.