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I Gotta Roll, Can’t Stand Still…

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 18 March 2010 | Views [412]

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – I’m back in the Big Smoke after spending a few days dropping off things and visiting family around various points of NSW. Roughly 1100 kilometers over two days, with a bit of a break in Albury. And all of this is before I head back to Southeast Asia.

I spent most of last weekend (March 13 and 14) gathering all my possessions into a relatively centralised pile and then an unreasonable part of Monday morning squeezing the majority of that pile into a car not at all suited for transporting such a vast quantity of shit.

I then pointed the car due south along the M5 and left Sydney, bound for Albury.

The 540 kilometers of road between my (now former) residence and my parents’ joint is a very smooth, straight, unsurprising stretch known as the Hume Freeway. It continues beyond Albury, over the border between New South Wales and Victoria, and terminates in Melbourne. In times of yore it was the Hume Highway and served as the major trade route between the two cities. Many towns sprang up along the road to provide travellers with rest and food and drink along the lengthy journey.

Now, however, it’s an incredibly dull dual-lane divided road 110 km/h drive. Most of the towns have been bypassed, and roadworks are continuing. On the trip to Albury, one only passes through two towns now, those being Tarcutta and Holbrook. Before long, these two will also be skipped over for the sake of convenience.

Just outside Holbrook is Morrison’s Cafe, a sign out the front boasting “The Best Coffee On The Hume”. It’s a claim I’d promised myself I’d test one day, but Monday would not be it.

I arrived at my parents’ place in time for dinner, a quick unload of my car, and then some well-deserved kip.

As mum and dad are planning on popping over to Cambodia to visit me (much to my ongoing amazement), and because they’re also embarking on a 2-week tour of Vietnam beforehand (!!!), I thought some sort of accessible visual representation of the country might be fun for them to check out. Hence, Tuesday night’s entertainment consisted of mum, dad and I watching the Top Gear Vietnam special as an extremely basic primer on what the country is like now. Of course, the show doesn’t concentrate heavily on the history and a lot of stuff is glossed over, but I thought it might give them a flavour of what to expect. Even though it won’t. Because the place did my head in after 6 weeks of hanging around Thailand and Laos. All the same, they enjoyed it.

On Wednesday I drove a significantly emptier and much cleaner car from Albury to my sister’s place in Mollymook. Not being in a big rush, I took the time to finally stop off at Morrison’s Café and see how true their sign was. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype. I ditched the coffee after a few sips and continued on my way.

Because the Snowy Mountains are inconveniently placed, there are no reasonable roads or a very direct route between Albury and the south coast. This meant that I had to drive halfway back to Sydney before turning off the Hume and taking back roads south again to Bateman’s Bay, and then north again to Mollymook.

Throughout most of the day before, mum and dad tried to give me incredibly complex directions to help me negotiate the smaller roads from Yass to the coast. Replete as they were with advice to take the second left 2 kms. down this road, turn right at the first roundabout and make sure you’re in the far left lane on the Federal Highway to turn left 200 yards after getting off the road from Murrumbateman, etc., I elected to just follow the signs to Bungendore and then on to the Princes Highway.

The Kings Highway crosses the Great Dividing Range as it heads east, then drops down to the coast. The road winds through some beautiful forest and very hilly scenery, and it felt great to be actually driving a car through all the twists and rises and dips. After the very monotonous efficiency of the Hume Freeway, this was quite exciting.

Unfortunately, after getting to my sister’s place I was too exhausted to spend “quality time” with my niece and three nephews. Had I planned a little better, I would’ve arranged to spend a full day there with them because it’s going to be a long time until I see them again.

I did, though, finally manage to get a decent heads-up[1] on the political situation in Thailand at the moment. There are massive anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok which DFAT are concerned about. My main concern at the moment is the airport being overrun and closed down. Such things would knacker my plans. Fortunately, the protests are relatively peaceful right now. A good thing for me, but also a very good thing for the people of Thailand.

Ideal reading while travelling

This morning I arose at 5:30 (also known as stupid o’clock) to catch the 6:30 bus from Mollymook back to old Sydney town. Unlike most buses I’d travelled on in the last few years, this one was devoid of Thai or Cambodian karaoke. Fortunately, it was also free of the last on-bus movie I had to sit through, Snakes On A Plane. Besides which, I was one of the youngest passengers on this trip, which was also not the case on most of the buses I took in southeast Asia.

I was very surprised at how quick the trip was. I was expecting it to take several hours, where I was in actually back in Sydney in time for lunch at one of my favourite Chinatown dim sim kitchens before catching the train back to my sort of former residence down near the airport.

I still have more possessions than I really feel as though I want, let alone need. There are a few things back at the flat that I couldn’t take with me due to a complete absence of room. I still have four days to sort out a few things, try and get rid of the excess still here.

After getting on the bus before dawn this morning, I settled down in my seat, moved my hat down over my eyes and sighed with contentment. I now finally feel like I’m actually travelling. I have no job, no car, just two bags, and I feel very peaceful if not outright happy.

[1] – I had to watch it on Al Jazeera because the Western media is reporting jack shit.

Tags: albury, australia, driving, hume highway, mollymook, nsw, sydney

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