Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
16 March 2012 - Canowindra to Canberra
We left Canowindra along the road to Cowra 30 kilometres away. Weather was good for travelling and this was quite a good road with long straight stretches, gentle hills, and a good width of bitumen. Unfortunately, the bitumen was coming away in chunks leaving potholes bigger than half a square metre; presumably damage caused by heavy transports. We heard a council worker comment on the UHF radio that there wouldn't be any bitumen left on the road in a few weeks at the rate it was coming away. A bit of an exaggeration but an understandable off-the-cuff comment on the state of the road. As soon as we left Canowindra we were in Cowra Shire and that shire had a team working each side of the road putting a bitumen/gravel mix into potholes; it looked like an endless job.

Some sections of road had been repaired and were comfortable to drive on. Driving on the unrepaired section was difficult because potholes could not be seen from far away and many were too wide to safely avoid leaving the only option of holding on.

Cowra appeared to be a busy town. McDonalds in Cowra was near a parking area large enough for heavy transports and was doing good business; the truck drivers were no doubt glad of somewhere they could eat and safely park their vehicles. Somewhat surprisingly, after the several weeks that heavy trucks had been diverted off the Newell Highway into these quieter roads we were still hearing B-double drivers saying on the UHF radio that they did not know where they were going.

In Cowra we crossed the Lachlan River which looked pretty harmless here, but that river has caused severe flooding in Forbes for weeks.

From Cowra we stayed on the Lachlan Valley Way which soon left the banks of the Lachlan. There were still a few heavy trucks on this road but the road itself had few potholes and no sign, that we could see, there had been any. Whether the road is constructed differently or there has been far less traffic we didn't know but it was a pleasant drive, with very little other traffic, on a nearly flat road with a good surface through cattle and sheep grazing area. There appeared to be more stock (both cattle and sheep) grazing than we had previously seen but that may have been because there were now herds of Angus cattle in paddocks and their black colouring is more prominent than brown or grey/white cattle, and certainly easier to see at a distance. There had been some cropping around Cowra and one or two paddocks had been cut for hay but that had not continued far. We did pass a couple of paddocks in which the stubble had been burnt.

The road was gently, but steadily, climbing and by the time we reached Boorowa, elevation was 498 metres. This is a small township (population 1070 in the 2006 census) with a variety of substantial and attractive business and public buildings. We stopped briefly at the rest area in the middle of the town but parking space for caravans was limited and we stopped in a side street. Boorowa is the headquarters for Boorowa Shire and the service centre for a substantial farming region. It is one of those country towns away from the main highways which give the impression that they were once much busier than they are today.

The Lachlan Valley Way continued on from Boorowa across open, rolling, lightly timbered grassland to join the Hume Highway west of Yass. This divided freeway with concrete carriageway was delightful to drive on as it made its way around the town of Yass to the turnoff to the Barton Highway to Canberra. We had booked at a caravan park on the Canberra-Goulburn road in New South Wales, just outside the Australian Capital Territory, and turned off the Barton Highway at Murrumbateman to avoid the northern parts of Canberra. While driving along this minor road the caravan began to feel as if it was not following properly and, concerned that we had a flat tyre on the caravan we pulled off the road as soon as possible. Then we found that the Pathfinder left rear tyre was nearly flat.

After getting out the spare tyre and beginning to jack up the Pathfinder I found that our new jack wouldn't lift the Pathfinder high enough to change the wheel. Under load it wouldn't elevate nearly as far as the label said it should. So I called NRMA Roadside Assistance and we had lunch while waiting for the NRMA patrolman to arrive. He used two jacks to lift the Pathfinder and the wheel change was soon made. Then I re-connected the caravan and we were on our way.

By now the occasional shower of rain had been replaced by a mass of black cloud complete with lightning flashes sitting over Canberra to the south of us. When we arrived at the caravan park the drains were overflowing after the downpour they had just had. We set up in a convenient drive-through site with rain threatening or falling.

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