Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Tarcutta NSW


Tarcutta is a small town located 438km south-west of Sydney on the Hume Highway in New South Wales, Australia. As of 2004, the town and surrounding farms have a population of about 350 people. It serves a local farming community relying for its prosperity mainly on sheep and cattle and the interstate truckies who use the town as a change-over point in the trade between the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

The local park houses a national memorial to the truck drivers who have died on the infamously-dangerous local stretch of the Hume Highway, as well as around the country. The country singer, Slim Dusty, endorsed the memorial with a plaque.

There had been extensive political arguing since 1999 between Federal and State Governments over funding and where to site a proposed Tarcutta truck changeover facility. It was finally decided to place it off the main street and the project which was completed early 2007 was jointly funded at a cost of $6.5m. Truck drivers are required to stop for 30 minutes every five hours.

The local café, which has sustained generations of truckies, has also been the source of inspiration for some of Australia’s recent modern poets, Les Murray and Bruce Dawe. Murray wrote ‘The Burning Truck’ while visiting the café in 1961 and Dawe immortalised the eatery in a couple of lines in his poem ‘Under Way’.

Tarcutta is also located on the now disused Tumbarumba Branch railway line from Wagga Wagga. Much of the line was abandoned after it was damaged by floods in 1974. The rest was closed in 1987.

Located nearby is the Tarcutta Hills Reserve run by the Earth Sanctuaries Foundation with assistance from the Bush Heritage Fund. 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. The site is listed on the Australian National Estate.