Imagine driving down the length of the Hume Highway with Captain Cook, Henry Lawson, Caroline Chisholm and Ned Kelly as your passengers.
Author Craig Cormick has imagined exactly this for his latest book, Backseat Drivers, a road trip from Sydney to Melbourne with some unlikely hitch-hikers from the past.
Craig Cormick said he was interested in the idea of figures from the past confronting Australia of the present, and seeing what they might make of it.
The visitors even make a few stops in the Southern Highlands.
“What would Captain Cook make of Sydney?” Mr Cormick said. “Or what would Ned Kelly think of Melbourne?”
“The book looks at some key points of Australian history that have occurred along the Hume Highway, including the Cronulla race riots of 2005, the internment of German civilians at Berrima during World War One, and the Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria of 2009.
“And of course there is a detour through the towns of the Southern Highlands where they pick up Sir Donald Bradman,” he said.
The Hume, Highway 31, is Australia’s most travelled highway, and was pioneered by Hamilton Hume and William Hovell in 1824-25.
“They took over three months to walk from Sydney to Melbourne and back – fighting most of the way it should be added. It is now possible to drive the Hume in about 12 hours, but you’d miss all the stories that exist along the way,” Mr Cormick said.
“This book attempts to capture many of those stories that have been bypassed by both the highway and by many histories – but not just captured through my eyes as the author, also through the eyes of these characters from our past.”