|Travelling Australia - Journal 2010|
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|1 April - Frankston to Hamilton|
We drove out of the Frankston caravan park just before 9 o'clock. The morning was cold and there had been a heavy dew overnight. Weather was misty with
long-distance visibility reduced in a form of haze. Traffic on Eastlink was light to begin with, growing heavier as we approached Dandenong. Joining the Monash
Freeway was straightforward with traffic moving very well. I moved onto the second lane from the left because I knew the left lane ended at Warrigul Road.
We maintained 70 to 80 kph without difficulty until approaching the Domain Tunnel. I was surprised traffic moved so freely at 9:30 on a weekday; possibly people were taking a preliminary day off before the Easter very long weekend. Traffic in all lanes slowed approaching the Tunnel but then resumed higher speed once clear of the tunnel. Crossing the West Gate Bridge was straightforward in heavy, easily moving, traffic then we were on the road to Geelong. The UHF radio was off for most of the time so we didn't have to listen to the verbal drivel generated by a few simple-minded drivers.
We stopped at a roadhouse near Avalon airfield to fill up with diesel, a refill here would take us all the way to Hamilton. After fuelling we had a cup of coffee at this very busy roadhouse; the cash register operator said this wasn't really busy but it would be later today. Heavy transports were queuing at diesel pumps and the parking area was over-flowing with cars, heavy transports, caravans, motor homes and towed boats; if this was not busy we didn't want to be there when it was.
Approaching Geelong we turned onto the ring road looking for the B140 to Hamilton which was clearly marked. The traffic lights at the bottom of the exit ramp were the first since Frankston and the only ones we were to see between Frankston and Hamilton.
The B140, also known as the Hamilton Highway, is a two-lane road passing through pastoral country grazing predominantly sheep but with some cattle and one paddock of Shetland ponies. The weather was cool with low cloud on the surrounding low hills. Traffic was light in both directions; heavy trucks were fairly common with a few large B-doubles prominent. There were a few caravans. We were soon passing dry stone walls made from the volcanic stones and boulders formerly scattered over the paddocks.
The inbuilt GPS had been tasked with directing us to Hamilton, mainly for the distance to go information which we find useful, but couldn't handle B-class roads and refused to admit the existence of the B140 running straight to our destination; it wanted to go via a far longer route going back through Geelong or Ballarat. According to the GPS we had to turn around and had 337 kilometres to go to Hamilton when a road sign said Hamilton was 227 kilometres straight ahead.
The road ran through pastoral lands with sheep often seen; there were some cattle and often we passed rolls of hay either in paddocks or under a galvanised roof. Windmills were not uncommon; sometimes beside dams. The dams we could see near the road were only a third to half full. The GPS continued telling us we should turn around; it was giving distance to Hamilton as 458 kilometres when we passed a road sign saying Hamilton was 187 kilometres ahead; I had selected shortest route option which usually takes even goat tracks into account but now it ignored the B-class road we were driving along. Then we passed Cressy and the GPS became accurate.
As we approached Derrinallum we saw a classical volcanic crater off to the left, this was Mount Elephant. We also passed some very well preserved dry stone walls. But there was nowhere suitable to stop with the caravan so I could take photographs. This road is very poorly served with parking areas; there were a few truck stops but no rest areas for other travellers and very few places where a vehicle with caravan could pull off the road. We had lunch outside the church in the village of Berrybank, one of the few places we could pull off, even then the caravan was close enough to the road to rock every time a truck passed.
Approaching Mortlake the Hamilton Highway passes along a memorial avenue of very well-grown, attractively shaped, cypress or pine. After leaving Mortlake we passed a large plantation of very young pines about half a metre high; we estimated they were about a year old. We also passed a new looking shearing shed at a Merino property; we often saw shearing sheds today but this was the only one that looked anything like new or recently refurbished.
Between Mortlake and Hamilton traffic on the Hamilton Highway was even lighter than previously and heavy transports were completely absent. That evening I suggested to a Hamilton resident that B-doubles turned off at Mortlake to go to Warrnambool; the reply was that was probably the case because the Hamilton Highway is better than the Princes Highway (the A1) because that passes through Colac and Camperdown whereas the Hamilton Highway doesn't go through any medium or large town so may be preferred by truckies as a faster, more comfortable trip.
Near Lake Hamilton we turned into the caravan park where we had booked our Easter stay before we went to Deniliquin and checked in for the site we had used before. We were soon set up with awning out and connected to the on-site television arial giving us a full range of digital television channels.
Today had been an interesting trip covering 355 kilometres. The Monash Freeway, Domain Tunnel and West Gate Bridge had been far easier than I expected with very few delays; there were many heavy transports but that was expected and they were not a problem. The leg from Geelong to Hamilton had entailed a pleasant drive through interesting country, on an acceptable road with non-intrusive traffic. A pleasant day's travelling indeed.