Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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12 August 2012 - Bathurst to Emu Plains

We left Bathurst on a clear, sunny morning with a blue sky and low temperature. The caravan park is in Kelso, a satellite of Bathurst and on the edge of the built-up area; we were immediately faced with a climb up a long hill on the Great Western Highway. The Great Western Highway from Sydney terminates at Bathurst; travellers heading further west from Bathurst continue on the Mitchell Highway to Orange, Dubbo and beyond or on the Mid Western Highway to Blayney and Cowra. We were heading towards Sydney and would remain on the Great Western Highway past Lithgow, over Mount Victoria and past Katoomba to Emu Plains on the edge of Greater Sydney. The Bathurst caravan park was at an elevation of about 700 metres and we knew the top of Mount Victoria was a little higher than 1000 metres so hill climbing was ahead of us.

Traffic was moderate on this Sunday morning, mainly sedans with very few trucks. The road was moderately hilly with frequent overtaking lanes. At first we passed paddocks containing large numbers of sheep and cattle. There was so much stock in the paddocks that we decided they were being fattened for sale. Then the grazing land ended to be replaced by large pine plantations for a while.

The weather deteriorated during the morning. Cloud cover increased and the temperature dropped. Warnings along the road of a risk of ice on the road didn't help; outside temperature of 5°C gave us some confidence that the ice warnings applied mainly at night but the thought of ice on the road was unsettling.

Approaching Lithgow we could see at least one power station in the distance; this is a coal mining region with a lot of the coal going straight into power stations. The Great Western Highway goes through the edge of Lithgow at an elevation of 900 metres then descends to 723 metres at Hartley at the foot of Mount Victoria. This hilly land was devoted to grazing.

From Hartley the Great Western Highway begins climbing up Mount Victoria. Much of the road has a long overtaking lane so light vehicle can overtake transports, motorhomes and caravans making their slow progress up the hill. In second gear at a little under 3000 rpm the Pathfinder made steady, unspectacular progress towing the Eurostar to the top at 1060 metres. From Mount Victoria village, at the top of Mount Victoria pass, the Great Western Highway passes through a succession of townships and villages; despite the hills between them, they were all at elevations of a little above 1000 metres. Katoomba (official elevation 1017 metres) was the next major township.

Much of the Great Western Highway has been duplicated around Katoomba and towards Sydney but parts are still major road work sites. When we moved to live in Penrith in 1995 duplicating the Great Western Highway was in progress; road works were widespread then and seem to have been going on intermittently ever since. The completed dual carriageway is pleasant to drive on and, no doubt, the road will eventually be duplicated from Katoomba to Penrith where the M4 motorway begins. For now it was a case of appreciate the good parts and endure the road works delays and single lanes. Traffic was moderately heavy, nearly all sedans, so there were long queues at any delay.

Arriving in Emu Plains we made our way to a familiar caravan park and set up for a couple of nights. The weather had improved a little but the day was certainly not warm and sunny.
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