Travelling Australia - Journal 2010
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19 March 2010 - Deniliquin to Melbourne/Frankston
We left Deniliquin on the Riverina Highway bound for Finley where we turned south on the Newell Highway towards the Victorian border. Soon after entering Victoria we stopped at the Big Strawberry at Koonoomoo for morning tea which was substantial enough to be lunch as well. From the Big Strawberry we drove to the intersection of the Newell Highway with the Murray Valley Highway then turned along the road directly to Benalla with the intention of joining the Hume Freeway to get to Melbourne. This may not have been the shortest way to get to Melbourne but the freeway would provide the fastest trip.

As planned, we joined the Hume Freeway near Benalla and set off for Melbourne. Traffic on the freeway was light for a dual carriage way; weather was good for travelling. Near Seymour we passed the intersection with the Newell Highway and semi-trailers and B-doubles joined the traffic going to Melbourne.

By the time we were approaching the Melbourne Ring Road both lanes of the freeway were full of vehicles. Traffic on the Ring Road was moderately heavy and there was some slowing as traffic joined at an access point but then vehicles spread out and we were left behind at 85 kph. Traffic going the other way was not so lucky and both lanes barely moved for several kilometres.

Approaching West Gate Bridge the traffic was a bit congested but still moving. On the UHF radio we heard some reports of traffic incidents ahead of us, including a car on fire on the Monash Freeway beyond Melbourne, but there were too many simple-minded truckies blocking the channel with pointless sport comments, or abusing each other, for us to hear traffic information. We turned the radio off several times since it was useless; each time we turned it back on the stupidity had stopped but the pause was only temporary and the abuse resumed. Each time we travel on the northern and western approaches to Melbourne we find the UHF radio useless for finding out about traffic and road conditions because some users are busy abusing each other and blocking other transmissions.

Once we were clear of West Gate, with the UHF radio now off, we made slow but steady progress towards the Burnley Tunnel. Traffic was fairly heavy on this Friday afternoon and I had to be sure to keep the caravan in my lane while heavy trucks passing us filled adjacent lanes. In the Burnley Tunnel traffic moved fairly well, although the smell of exhaust gases in the air was unpleasant. Then we were on the Monash Freeway making good progress out towards Dandenong. I was aware that the left lane is a must exit lane at Warrigul Road so had moved over well before we reached that exit.

Before Dandenong we left the Monash Freeway moving onto Eastlink to go to Frankston. This was an easy leg with little traffic until the outskirts to Frankston. As we entered Frankston we encountered the first set of traffic lights since passing through Benalla several hours previously. But the Ring Road and Monash Freeway could not be described as a pleasant trip in Friday afternoon traffic.

During the drive through Melbourne we had used tollways which had to be paid for. Last night I had taken out a Melbourne Pass on City Link (cost $5.50 to set up) which lasted for 30 days and during which my number plate would be read each time we used a tollway and the charge debited against my credit card. Much easier (and comparison proved slightly cheaper) than buying passes for each day or trip on a tollway.

Arriving at the caravan park I checked in for five nights on the understanding we may have to extend when we had details of the funeral. We were allocated a site near ones we had used before and set up. We spent much of the evening, and part of next day, killing mosquitoes we had bought from Deniliquin with us; they stayed in hidden corners of the caravan for hours and we had to wait until they emerged before they could be swatted. I also cleaned the ceiling of the caravan which had been smeared with squashed mosquitoes at Deniliquin.

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