After a strenuous 12 months culminating in possibly the worst month ever, humbly reducing my dignity to moving back to Mum & Dad’s house, having absolutely no money, no house and no car and needing to justify my existence and create a new future… I’ve started to rebuild what I’ve lost and celebrate my new sense of freedom with a road trip from Melbourne to Sydney.
It’s the first real road trip I’ve done with my boys in Australia. We’ve done plenty in the US, but nothing really to see our own backyard. We left at 4am to beat the peak hour traffic and used our trusty GPS to get us to our end destination. A friend, who does the trek regularly, suggested that if we didn’t stop, it should take us 10 hours 40 minutes, but with stops closer to 12 hours 30 minutes. I thought, with bathroom stops, food stops, power nap stops and scenery opportunities, as well as the weekly deluge that had hit the north-east of Victoria & south-east of New South Wales that caused torrential flooding over the past 10 days, we thought we might be more like 13-14 hours…
After navigating our way through Melbourne to avoid tollways and hitting every red stop sign possible, we found ourselves on the Hume Highway in the dark taking on the 110 kilometre per hour speed limit. First stop at 6am was a Roadhouse in Nagambie for breakfast. I sort of promised the boys McDonalds hotcakes for breakfast, but the traditional roadhouse was a little more appealing on an Aussie road trip than American junk (must admit, don’t mind the hotcakes normally). So after a much needed loo break, I grabbed an egg & bacon roll, my 8 year old grabbed an Aussie meat pie and tomato sauce, and my 10 year old indulged in a toasted cheese sandwich. Nick (the 8 year old) wanted to be anonymous in this shot, leaving only his half eaten meat pie in shot!!)
We smiled at the iconic signs within the roadhouse – a few truckies having a chin-wag in the corner, the local country hospitality and the not-so-trusty and obsolete Telecom pay-phone with an ‘out-of-order’ sign on it, but with a pinboard above it displaying all the necessary local phone numbers for taxi services, accommodation and some token business cards.
Back in the car and we listened to some local country radio. There was an ad for the ‘Bended Elbow Hotel’ which just made me laugh. Our pubs (bars) really do take the mickey out of themselves! But after a few radio laughs, breakfast made me tired… so 40 minutes later I pulled over for a power nap. Told the boys I’m be down for the count for 30 minutes, but it was more like an hour before I felt right to go again… but did I go!!! We drove for 2.5 hours, crossed the Vic/New South Wales border to find that New South Wales roads just aren’t as good as Victorian roads (a little bit of interstate rivalry!) and the New South Welshman are highly unoriginal! After the good old Murray, the next body of water was called ‘Seven Mile Creek,’ the next ‘Eight Mile Creek,’ then there was ‘Four Mile Creek,’ and ‘Five Mile Creek’ with a second ‘Five Mile Creek a couple of hundred kilometres down the road! What the? But then Kurtis, my 10 year old, laughed at all the aboriginal names for towns we came across – Tumbarumba, Howlong (How long before we get to ‘Howlong?’), Oolong (How long before we get to ‘Oolong?’), Gundagai… why couldn’t the creeks have some cool Aboriginal names?)
We stopped in Holbrook to fuel up the car, have a ‘piss’ stop and be conned by two primary schoolers into a bar of chocolate each around 10.30am, before finding this gorgeous little farm style cafe in Bowning. We were greeted by this rambling timber cabin with corrugated iron doors on the toilets creating the traditional Aussie outhouse feel (with a contemporary twist) and some delightful farm animals wanting a pat…
We sat outside, and the boys chose chicken nuggets & chips washed down with a chocolate milkshake, and I indulged in a devonshire tea, as they said they were ‘world famous’ for it. We sat under the verandah, with its brick paved floor, and corrugated iron roof with drill holes in it making it no-so-water proof, but delightfully quaint all the same. The boys said they LOVED this place (Rollinin Cafe in Bowning, I think). It even had a paddock of emus next to the car park!
One thing that’s a big difference from a US road trip to an Aussie road trip, is the distinct lack of advertising billboards that kill the US scenery. Our undulating hills were lush green and occasionally we’d see a flooded plain as we approached Sydney, but otherwise the roads were easy to drive on, they definitely weren’t dominated by trucks, however the truckers we do have are impatient, discourteous (they never use their hazard lights when they are going slowly up a hill) and can be quite dangerous compared with our US comrades. Our road works slow us down to 40 kilometres per hour which feels like a crawl compared with the 110kmh we were accustomed to, but otherwise it was a great trip with no towns to stop us in our tracks…
…until we hit Holbrook. A quaint Aussie historic town that the Hume just has to go through.
We eventually made it to Sydney, but to avoid another tollway, I took a wrong turn, making our journey an extra 40 minutes long. We eventually arrived 12 hours and 28 minutes after we left Melbourne… which wasn’t a bad trek, considering we had three stops, an hour’s sleep and a wrong turn.
Now it’s what do we plan for tomorrow 🙂