How Hume moved from Albury to Leppington

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One of the interesting changes in the NSW redistribution proposal was the decisive shift of Hume towards Sydney.

Looking at the proposed boundaries for the seat, I realised that they look quite similar to the boundaries of a seat that I was familiar with almost 20 years ago, but with a different name.

Hume has now largely replaced the area that Macarthur covered less than twenty years ago. So for this post I wanted to look at the history of how Hume and Werriwa, both federation seats, have moved from rural NSW into the city.

My mapping files date back to the 2007 election (although for some states cover back to 2001), but the Parliamentary Library has a great website which allows you to look up any electorate that has existed since 1901 and see every version of that seat’s boundaries up to 2022. I’ve also used that site to make some static maps.

The seat of Hume is a Federation electorate, but the original boundaries covered Albury, Tumut, Gundagai and Cootamundra, wrapping around but not covering Wagga Wagga.

Hume lost Albury in 1949, but didn’t take in Goulburn until 1992.

Hume has steadily moved north since then. The 2000 redistribution expanded the seat until it almost reached the Camden area, and the 2006 redistribution pushed it back to just contain a small part of the Wollondilly area.

The 2009 redistribution draw Hume with the big hole in the Southern Highlands for the first time, but finally in 2016, Hume took in suburbs that were clearly part of the Sydney urban area for the first time.

This map shows the 1901, 1984-1992 and 2016-2022 boundaries – they were already very different before the new proposed boundaries. I have then roughly drawn in the 2025 proposed boundaries in red.

So I decided to make a map comparing the Macarthur of 2007 to the proposed Hume of 2025. And while we’re at it, I’m also comparing the Werriwa of 2007 to the proposed Macarthur of 2025.

My memory had been that Macarthur in 2007 was mostly a seat covering the Camden and Wollondilly councils, while Werriwa covered safer Labor areas in Campbelltown. This sounds very similar to Hume and Macarthur today. The map shows that it’s a tiny bit more complicated, but it mostly lines up quite well.

Macarthur in 2007 did cover a few suburbs at the southern end of Campbelltown City that are now in the more urban Macarthur of 2025. The Werriwa of 2007 did stretch a bit further north than the Macarthur of 2025, but there was a substantial overlap.

The comparison applies much more clearly one seat further out.

There is a large part of Wollondilly Shire with no residential population, and that area wasn’t in the Macarthur of 2007, but most of the populated area was in Macarthur. The only exceptions were Tahmoor and Bargo. At the other end, Hume of 2025 now covers almost all of the Camden Council area, with the exception of the new suburbs of Gregory Hills, Gledswood Hills and Currans Hill.

This story is primarily about the shifting position of Hume, and how it has largely replaced Macarthur as the outermost seat in south-western Sydney, but it is following a path trod last century by Werriwa.

The seat of Werriwa is named after the Aboriginal name for Lake George. The original Werriwa in 1901 covered Goulburn, Yass, Harden and what would eventually become the northern half of Canberra.

By 1913, Werriwa was starting to approach Sydney, and by 1922 it covered Campbelltown, Camden and the Sutherland Shire, while still stretching out to Boorowa.

The 1949 redistribution turned Werriwa into an outer-Sydney electorate, covering Liverpool, the Shire and not much else. That was the seat that Gough Whitlam won in a by-election in 1952. Whitlam’s seat then lost Sutherland in 1955 and stretched up to Parramatta, and by the time Whitlam was Prime Minister it had settled into the south-west.

This final map compares the 2016-2022 version of Werriwa to the 1901 version.

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39 COMMENTS

  1. this is the readon why i suggested they abolish the riverina name and call that division “Hume” and give a new name to the leppington based one

  2. Very interesting how some seats have changed radically while others have remained similar. On the North Coast for example, Cowper once included Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Grafton, before Lyne was created in 1949 which took in Port and Taree. In 1984, Page was created to cover Lismore and Grafton (the seat of Page is named after former Nationals leader, PM member for Cowper; Page was from Grafton). Then in 2016, Lyne took Forster-Tuncurry from Paterson but lost most of Port to Cowper (with the exception of some outer suburbs, namely Sancrox). Interestingly Pat Conaghan (the member for Cowper) lives in Port Macquarie but so does David Gillespie (the member for Lyne), it’s just that Gillespie lives in Sancrox so he’s still in his electorate.

  3. Then Richmond has basically always been a seat that includes Tweed Heads, Ballina and Byron Bay.

  4. You can see the drift of Melbourne suburban seats as well. The current Chisholm has no common territory with the Chisholm that was created in 1949. Latrobe also drifted south east and only a sliver of territory is now common with the 1949 boundaries though that area around Emerald had moved in and out of Latrobe. The proposed new boundaries for Chisholm have it returning ‘home’ to the Camberwell area.

  5. NP and redistributed, I had a look at the evolving boundaries for Queensland seats (both urban and rural) and found some interesting changes too. Capricornia (which now awkwardly straddles both Rockhampton and Mackay in a manner similar to the seat of Cowper, NSW) was previously a Rockhampton only district that extended southwards usually including Gladstone but sometimes stretching as far as Bundaberg.

    In the inner Brisbane suburbs, Brisbane district previously extended further west to include areas near Ferny Grove, whilst Griffith also extended outwards to include suburbs currently contained in Bonner. Bowman also expanded beyond the boundaries of Redland Council (pre-2004, prior to the creation of Bonner).

  6. There are understandably a lot of seats that have shrunk tremendously but have at least kept a common core. That is true of Parramatta, North Sydney, Wentworth and Cowper. I didn’t check Richmond or McPherson but I assume the same. Macquarie didn’t originally include the Mountains but for a majority of its history it has included the Mountains, even if the other parts have changed. I don’t know of others that have transformed so dramatically as Hume or Werriwa.

  7. You can see a lot of this in Victoria’s east, where they don’t create a new seat, they just drag an existing seat towards it. La Trobe used to be a Knox and Yarra Ranges based seat, but slowly gets dragged down to being a Cardinia seat.

    More recently Bruce has gone from a Monash and Dandenong based seat to a Dandenong and northern Casey based seat. There used to be 11 seats based on the inner-middle east, and when Bruce eventually sheds Dandenong their will be 9. They’ve essentially abolished the old Bruce to slowly create a new northern Casey based seat. The Bruce from 1989-1994 has essentially the exact same boundaries as the proposed Bruce.

  8. I wonder what the people of Goulburn and Yass think about these divisions flying overhead in the direction of the big city, like fleeting shadows cast from passing clouds?

  9. Peter, an interesting comparison can also be made for NSW state districts. When there needs to be changes made to rural seats, they shuffle them along the Hume Highway corridor. (key examples with Goulburn once being known as Southern Highlands, but then moved out towards Yass with its Wollondilly council share being transferred to its namesake seat).

  10. @Yoh An North Queensland has changed dramatically over the decades. I’ve had a look at Dawson and Herbert in particular.

    In 1901, Herbert covered all of northeastern Queensland from Mackay to the Torres Strait Islands. Then eventually Kennedy and later Leichhardt (when it was created in 1949) took the areas north of Cairns. Herbert gradually shrunk more to become more centred on Townsville, but it only relatively recently became a seat without any rural towns in it. In fact, it wasn’t until 2007 that Herbert became an entirely Townsville-based seat.

    When Dawson was created in 1949, it covered areas that are now part of Capricornia and Flynn in addition to Mackay, Bowen and the Whitsunday Coast. Now it covers from Mackay to the outer southern suburbs of Townsville.

  11. Nether Portal,
    When Page was created in 1984, it included Ballina but not Lismore. Lismore remained in Richmond.

    Earl Page was never Nationals leader. He was only ever a member of the Country Party.

    Grafton, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie were all in Cowper immediately prior to the creation of Page in 1984. At that time, the northern boundary of Cowper was just south of Evans Head and the southern boundary was just south of Port Macquarie.

  12. Some divisions contract to an inner core (like Herbert) but others drift around fully detached from their original boundaries, and not necessarily 1901 seats like Hume. Forde is totally removed from the boundaries it had in 1984 when it was created. Pearce in WA has only a thin strip of territory that was originally within the initial 1990 boundary; the new Bullwinkel is broadly similar to the original Pearce.
    It is absurd that Werriwa has kept its name since it retreated from Lake George. However there is some benefit in archaic geographic names – they can be renamed after the deaths of former Prime Ministers (and NSW has 6 living PMs/ex-PMs).

  13. @Yoh An, thanks, good point. These changes are probably symptomatic of a broader population shift towards the cities? I was merely remarking that something that feels so solid and stable as an electorate can actually be away up the highway with the passing of time.

    I was also interested to learn of the origins of the name Werriwa (or perhaps I had heard that before but forgot it), but either way, I had suspected somehow that Werriwa didn’t sound like a western Sydney name. Hume was at the very least a traveller of sorts, so putting aside the debate about the colonialist idea of discovering places that were already known to humankind, perhaps it’s a strangely appropriate name.

  14. @peter i think Hume name belongs in the regions despite the fact its named after the person not the region

  15. Ben, Richmond went much further west and included the Richmond River. It’s now a Tweed Heads seat. MCpherson went as far as west as and included Warwick. It’s now an exclusively Gold Coast seat that hugs the coastline. My point in raising them is that, like Werriwa and Hume, the physical features they were named for no longer bear any relation to the seats as they now exist.

  16. @john I have to agree with you (that’s rare), that the proposed Riverina should just be renamed Hume. The current proposed Riverina is actually quite similar to the Hume of 1984-1992.

  17. @witness. thanks make sure to let the aec know. riverina is not a continous federation name as it was abolised and broought back and i think the name hume belongs there. they should have tried to keep werriwa there as well but that failed. maybe the new hume should be named werriwa? and just rename the new werriwa?

  18. Agree John, the current Werriwa district is a prime candidate to be renamed to Bird-Walton or Walton, given its close proximity to the new Western Sydney airport of the same name.

  19. In a way, they missed an opportunity to rename Werriwa to Whitlam.

    Kennedy’s boundaries in 1977-83 are rather interesting.

  20. Another seat more or less re-created (only quite soon after the abolition of the original) is Mayo, which is, in essence, Angas, a ‘federation’ (actually, 1903, because SA and the NT voted as one electorate in 1901) seat comprising the areas to the east of metroplitan Adelaide, bounded by Grey to the north and Barker to the south (and formerly, Wakefield to the north-west).

  21. During the NSW submission process, I toyed with the idea of a Queanbayen – Goulburn – Southern Highlands electorate that I would propose to name Werriwa. Came unstuck as EM got very convoluted around Nowra. It would have been in my ‘abolish Cunningham’ phase.

  22. WW
    Page was the leader of the Country Party from 1922 to 1939. The Nationals are just the renamed CP.

  23. @redistributed unfortunately the rules dont allow you to move the name from one division to another. the only way is to abolish it then reinstate it or try and move werriwa further south. which is getting harder and harder to do

  24. Why should the Hume name be attached to the NSW Riverina region? Why is it not an appropriate name for the area where Hume departed from in south-western Sydney? Why is not an appropriate name for where Hume ended up at in Geelong? Or the Hume Region in Vic? As far as I know, Hume never lived in any of these places, he was just one of the first whitefellahs to pass through.

    Now, since it’s well-established that Sydney’s south-western corridor is the main electoral pressure valve to balance the allocation of seats between Sydney and regional NSW, I think it’s quite poetic for the name Hume to be applied to a division that continues to travel up and down the Hume Highway! Poor old Billy Hovell might wonder why he doesn’t get the same amount of attention though.

  25. Agree Peter about the last point, the southwest regional corridor (Southern Highlands and Tablelands) is one of the few places where you can freely move/transfer electors into and out of the Sydney metropolitan area along with possibly the Illawarra corridor (Sutherland to Wollongong). Other regional areas are problematic because you have major mountains (Blue Mountains) or rivers (Hawkesbury River separating Berowra from Central Coast) that act as geographical barriers.

    This is not as much an issue for other cities like Melbourne and Brisbane which feature a more gradual transition between the metropolitan and rural areas (examples like the Melton to Ballarat and the Beenleigh to Gold Coast corridors).

  26. The Hume redistribution is a pretty nice looking seat. Same for the area covered by Whitlam if we’re going to keep the weirdness of linking the Southern Highlands and Illawarra.

    Goulburn going into Eden Monaro would be a lot better if it kept Yass and Gunning (and the corridors leading to it) – then it would be a proper “Canberra Region” seat. I’m not sure if there’s a way to make the numbers work but it seems better to me if Eden Monaro was the part of NSW heavily linked to Canberra, and Riverina was the area heavily linked to Wagga.

  27. From memory, I know Moore in WA used to be a purely rural seat in the wheatbelt or thereabouts before contracting entirely to Joondalup and outer-northern Perth.

    Sturt in SA started as a purely Northern suburbs seat that stretched from Virginia/St Kilda all the way down to parts of its current territory in Norwood, until Bonython was created and then subsequent shift of Wakefield from a Mid North/Riverland/Yorke Peninsula seat into the outer suburbs of Adelaide + Clare Valley in 2004.

    Oxley used to look nothing like what it is now when it spanned from Springfield all the way across to Esk, Nanango, Gatton and nearly to Toowoomba, whereas since 1998 it’s been concentrated around Inala and Forest Lake. Blair started as a western Ipswich/Lockyer valley seat and then moved south towards Boonah and contracted to Ipswich over time, and then added Esk, Kilcoy etc recently. Then there’s Rankin which when created was probably the equivalent of today’s Wright in terms of territory (Scenic Rim/Gold Coast Hinterland) with a bit of Maranoa added (Warwick). Fast-forward to today it’s a purely Brisbane/Logan seat.

    Fascinating to say the least the different ways redistributions can reshape seats and its constituents across the decades.

  28. You can check all of those seats in the handbook I linked to in the post.

    Sturt’s original borders did cover some other areas but it covered almost all of its current area, which made up about half of the 1949 version.

    Moore has shrunk tremendously but the current boundaries have pretty much always been contained in the seat. Seems similar to the others mentioned.

    Oxley was abolished between 1933 and 1949 but still at most redistributions it has overlapped with its current borders.

  29. This is exactly why I don’t like geographic names. I’ve just added comments to suggestion for NT and, @Ben Raue I’ve added your Hume example, along with the nefarious Werriwa. While we’re at it, take a look at Swan. It was vastly different in 1901 than today, streching all the way from Albany to Karratha.

    Parramatta annoys me to no end, even in 1901 it barely contained the city. Remember when try tried to redistribute it out in either 2006 or 2009? That caused issues and they’ve been too timid to try again, so we’re stuck with a division that doesn’t really have a focus because it needs to sit over the city centre.

    The good thing about seats named after people is that they can drift around and no one really notices the glacial shift because the community always remains (mostly) coherent. Might have to add a few paragraphs in my suggestion template for geographic names in future suggestions! I’m sure everyone will appreciate my essay getting even longer.

    Personally, @john, @witness, I’d retire both Riverina and Hume. Neither represent the original division anymore, and both have geographic links – even if Hume is named after the person, it’s still in this area because of the highway and his exploration. Who to name them after though? Tim Fischer would be a popular choice, but, no doubt Fischer is too similar to Fisher in Queensland.

    @Yoh An – Agree about (Bird) Walton. Several people suggested in the redistribution and the Comittee decided to do nothing. The new Werriwa should be Walton or Bird-Walton (depending on what they consider to be her real surname). The geographic Werriwa probably should be retired, even though it’s a federation name. If not, then Werriwa becomes the name for the division known as Hughes, Cunningham gets retired and Hughes takes that name. But the Comittee seem to have gone back to being extremely reluctant to rename divisions. Bring back 2018 when they went crazy in Victoria and renamed four at once.

  30. There are some strange transformations out there. Calwell has managed to jump across the Maribyrnong and is entirely removed from where it was at creation in only 40 years. La Trobe only holding onto Emerald, and Bruce is only holding onto a sliver of Mulgrave from when Billy Snedden had it.

    Hence why I’d favour them retiring names a bit more often. Else it’s seems a bit of a head-scratcher at first that the Liberals could have ever won a seat that is now centred on Dandenong-Casey. Ditto Wakefield/Spence, but at least they changed that one

    By contrast, Higgins/Kooyong/Melbourne have been some of the more stoic seats and are all getting fairly significant changes this time around.

  31. How long since the Division of Petrie has contained the town/suburb of Petrie? A fair few redistributions ago …

  32. Similar to how Shortland isn’t in Shortland (it’s in Newcastle) and how Parkes isn’t in Calare (it’s in Parkes).

  33. Hamilton Hume travelled through various places but died in Yass. For some time, Yass was contained in Hume. I think that the fact that Hume contains Hume Highway makes the electorate name appropriate still. The growth in greenfield developments in suburbs west of Camden Valley Way and the over-quota of Werriwa and Macarthur meant that such suburbs had to be absorbed into Hume.

    Regarding renaming Werriwa to Bird-Walton, it doesn’t make sense as the airport won’t even be in the proposed Werriwa.

    The redistribution means that Parkes, the town, will be in Parkes, the electorate.

  34. Ben
    The existing Bruce was entirely contained within the 1955 version of Bruce. It was only in 1968 that it contracted into the Glen Waverley area. By 1968 Bruce had the biggest enrolment in the country by a considerable margin.

  35. @votante its named after the person not the airport so there is no need for it to be. containing the airport in it indefinitely is going to be extremely hard given its location. kingsforsford smith at least has solboundaries to keep it confined around that area

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