This year we decided on a road trip to spend time with family over Christmas.
Since arriving back in Australia in December 2020 I haven’t been able to see my family and friends who live in Victoria.
Initially it was the state borders that were closed for well over a year, but then with one thing and another it just hasn’t been possible to visit.
From where we live near Brisbane it’s about 2200 km trip (one way) or the equivalent of driving from Toronto to Miami.
Fortunately, Judy is a good sport and was willing to get up at 3:30 am to begin the first leg of our journey. Now because it’s summertime here in Australia the sun was up just after 4:00 am so we began our drive with a clear and sunny morning.
Our original plan was to drive down on the Newell Hwy but given the recent floods the road was still cut in several places and therefore un-passable.
I wanted to get through Brisbane and into New South Wales before breakfast. We made it to Tenterfield in northern NSW for brekkie which is just over 300 kms from home.
It was such a beautiful drive at that early hour and a great start to our road trip.
Judy discovered the Tenterfield Corner Cafe (212-214 Rouse Street) so we stopped in for a delicious breakfast. A great sign was that it was busy with locals…
Next we set our sights on Tamworth for a lunch break which was a further 300 kms south. The New England Hwy was a little potholed in places after the recent floods but generally in reasonable condition.
However, our final 3 hours into Bathurst was a far different experience.
After leaving the New England Hwy we took a series of small country roads across several mountain ranges with a never-ending series of tight switchbacks on narrow, and potholed roads.
However, this paled in comparison to the river crossings that we had to undertake given the road had been washed away in several places.
We had to decide on whether to turn back or go forward…
The water over the road was only about 50 meters wide, but still relatively fast flowing.
The unknown was what was beneath the surface of the water and the underlying road condition.
Deciding to press on we went at a snail’s pace to make our way across the flooded road, fortunately without mishap, although there were a few deep ruts to navigate.
I’m sure the cows in the nearby paddock were wondering “who are these fools?”
Thank goodness we had an all-wheel drive!
The next curveball that we were given was that we had to cross the Goulburn River via a large and old steel girder bridge.
Now I’m sure you’re thinking that should be simple… right?
This enormous bridge had been badly damaged in the floods, and so only one car at a time was able to drive across it, but more frighteningly was the approach.
First, we had to wait at a temporary stop light before proceeding.
Second, we had to weave our way through a series of concrete barriers that had been placed across the road like you’d have to navigate if you were entering checkpoint in a war zone prior to getting onto the actual bridge.
I swear you could feel the vibration and movement of the bridge as we delicately made our way across at the princely speed of 5 kms per hour.
Judy was a tad freaked out and was nervously telling me to get a move on.
I almost expected to look in the rear vision mirror and see the bridge collapse as we exited and made our way through the checkpoint barriers on the other side.
Needless to say, this last part of the day was quite the adventure, especially given that the last three hours took us six.
Arriving in Bathurst some 13 hours after leaving we were exhausted, and bum sore after sitting for so many hours, but glad that we’d made such a dent in the journey.
Our second day saw us out the door and on the road at 4:00 am once again, however without coffee in the morning Judy doesn’t function so well… but with nothing open at that hour we had to press on.
The first stop of the day was Gundagai with the famous Dog on the Tucker box some 280 kms south of Bathurst
Again, this journey included a lot of firsts for me as well as Judy as I’d never actually been to Gundagai and seen the Dog on the Tucker box.
An awesome piece of Australiana!
The final four hours down to Melbourne on the M1 was a breeze, with a wide-open freeway and sunny skies.
Finally skirting Melbourne’s northern suburbs to hook into the ring road and out onto the Western Highway for the 1:15 min run up to Ballarat.
Arriving by mid-afternoon at my sister’s place, tired but enriched from our road trip adventure.
The most disturbing part of the road trip so far is the dead animals by the sides of the road. Literally hundreds of kangaroos, foxes, wombats, dingos…
Quite sad when you think about it.
We’re here in Ballarat for the next eight days before the return portion of our adventure begins.
It’s been great to spend time with my sister Glenda, and her husband Max. Plus, I even got to see my other brothers and their wives for dinner last night.
Lots more adventures on the way
Until next week.
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