Travelling Australia - Journal 2015c




16 July 2015


Holbrook is on the Hume Highway north of Albury-Wodonga; it is the next town after leaving Albury travelling north towards Sydney or Canberra and has established itself as a good place to break the journey when driving from Melbourne to the northern centres. For many years the Hume Highway ran along the main street and several business (especially bakeries and fuelling stations) were established to serve this passing business. Since 2013 the Hume Freeway has bypassed the town but access between freeway and town is very short and many regular travellers turn off the Freeway for their break.

Holbrook has a population of 1,262 (2011 census) and is the centre of an agricultural region producing merino wool, wheat and grain, lucerne, fat cattle and fat lambs. First buildings were erected in 1836 when the name Ten Mile Creek was adopted but the town was eventually re-named Germantown probably because an early publican of the Woolpack Hotel was of German descent. During the First World War the name Germantown fell out of favour and a replacement was sought shortly after Lieutenant Norman Holbrook of the Royal Navy in command of submarine B11 operating in the eastern Mediterranea and Dardenelles successfully attacked a Turkish battleship. He was awarded the Victoria Cross and residents of Germantown selected Holbrook as the town's new name.

Holbrook provides a range of businesses for travellers all along the long main street which was once the Hume Highway but is now Albury Street. Many substantial brick buildings along Albury Street are left-overs from a time when Holbrook was an administrative and service centre for the surrounding region (court house and police station, several churches, several pubs). Some large, older buildings have been recycled into museums or supermarkets and their original purposes cannot be seen, others appear to be waiting for a new role.

B11 model

One fifth scale model of submarine B11 commanded by Lieutenant Holbrook when he torpedoed a Turkish battleship. His fame (he was awarded the Victoria Cross for the feat) prompted the residents of the town then called Germantown to rename their town Holbrook.

16 July 2015 - Holbrook, page 2

Holbrook's major tourist feature is the Oberon-class submarine HMAS Otway which decommissioned in 1995. The Navy gave the fin to the town which then purchased the casing (the part above the waterline); these were transported to Holbrook and put on display in Germanton Park near a scale model of the World War One submarine B11 which Lieutenant Holbrook commanded. Visitors can walk along the top of the casing or visit the nearby Submarine Museum for a closer look at life in a submarine.


The upper part of the decommissioned Oberon-class submarine HMAS Otway on display in Holbrook continuing the towns connection with submarines. The submarine museum nearby contains informative displays concerning submarines.

The weather for today remained cold but otherwise not too bad. The morning was dull and photographs taken before lunch were lifeless. After lunch the sun came out or, at least, brightened things up. Yet the television weather summaries in the evening were full of doom and gloom and refused to acknowledge that weather across south-east Australia was anything but uniformly cold, wet and miserable with snow falling.

pottery museum

The pottery museum in Holbrook's main street is in a recycled old building; this is one of many buildings in Holbrook built under different circumstances.

16 July 2015 - Holbrook, page 3

police station

Holbrook's older buildings, many of them red brick, include this contrasting pair. The police station on the left is symmetrical while the court house on the right is very definitely not symmetrical.

holbrook pub

One of several hotels still operating in Holbrook. The standard pub-architecture, with extended verandahs on two storeys, betrays the age of this building.