Travelling Australia - Journal 2012b
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22 December 2012

Darbys Falls to Canberra
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The night was calm and peaceful with a few interruptions from the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos which found reason to screech a few times during the night. We left the pleasant rest area on the road to Boorowa via Frogmore at about 8:30 in sunny, calm weather with hardly any other traffic on the road.

This is a very minor road, with bitumen a little more than a single lane wide. For the first twenty or thirty kilometres it was a fairly new surface and driving on it was quiet pleasant although it seemed to be mostly bends, curves and hills and it was rarely possible to see oncoming traffic; this was potentially important since the most comfortable way to travel was in the middle of the narrow bitumen and the caravan took up most of the space available. But we passed only a couple of cars going the other way. We also passed another caravan and that required both of us to leave the bitumen briefly.

This is all slightly hilly agricultural land with sheep and cows grazing and occasional hay sheds near the road. At first large granite boulders dotted the land surface, especially on the hill-tops. The boulders faded out as we made our way south to Frogmore enroute to Boorowa and Canberra. On such a quiet road bird life was plentiful. White-winged Coughs were very common in groups of three to five scratching along the roadside verge, Wood Ducks had taken over one waterhole and parrots frequently flashed across the road ahead of us. Several other bird species were also seen along the roadside but there was not enough space to stop and check them.

By the time we reached Frogmore the road surface had deteriorated; this was an older bitumen surface, parts of which had been patched numerous times leaving bumpy patches. Frogmore comprised several widely spaced houses with few signs of a commercial centre; if there are any shops here there are on side roads.

Past Frogmore the road improved in parts. We were now passing through flatter country (not completely flat but best described as low, gentle rises), with cropping the main activity. Arriving in Boorowa we stopped for a drink before continuing. Boorowa is one of the surprisingly large service centres we find on lesser roads which appear to be reasonably prosperous. We intend to visit more of them for a day or two to see what is there. On this trip our stay at Coolah was part of this long-term goal.

At Boorowa we joined the Lachlan Valley Way running south to join the Hume Freeway near Yass. This was a substantial two-lane road with a good bitumen surface but with many bends and shorter hills on it; there are no overtaking lanes between Boorowa and the Hume. Several vehicles behind us were unable to pass because of a nearly steady stream of oncoming traffic but we were able to maintain about 90 kph on this good road so didn't feel too bad about holding them up.

When the Lachlan Valley Way joined the Hume Highway we continued east along this dual carriageway. We had barely settled down to freeway cruising and were listening to the UHF radio to sort out any incidents which may affect us when we heard mention of a burnt-out truck on the freeway. That caught our attention and we began listening carefully to try to work out where the incident was when we passed it on the other carriageway. The prime mover was completely burnt-out and the trailer has reduced to a part shell. Both lanes of traffic on that carriage-way were blocked for several kilometres back from the wreckage and looked as if they would be blocked for some time while the wreckage was removed.

A few kilometres after the burnt-out truck we turned off the Hume Freeway onto the Barton Highway to Canberra. This began as a dual carriage-way but then reverted to a single, two-lane carriage-way for most of the way to Canberra. Traffic towards Canberra was light but traffic leaving Canberra was heavy as residents left for Christmas holidays. The line of oncoming traffic was not quite continuous but nearly so; at any time there were between five and ten vehicles in sight on the other side of the road.

Our destination was the caravan park at Sutton, just outside the ACT on the Goulburn Road. The GPS recommended a route via minor road from Murrumbateman direct to Sutton but we had used that route on a previous trip and found it complicated and slow. This time we stayed on the Barton Highway until its intersection with Northbourne Avenue in Canberra then we turned north out of Canberra to Sutton. This was much more pleasant than winding through narrow country roads.

Darbys Falls to Canberra - page 2
We had booked at the caravan park some months ago in the expectation that it would be busy at Christmas time; this was not so. The park was nearly empty when we arrived and set up on a drive-through site. Then we went to a major shopping centre (Belconnen) and found Canberra roads nearly empty. Traffic was very light for a Saturday afternoon, but the shopping centre car-park was nearly full. Overhead signs indicate the number of currently empty spaces in different sections of the car park and most sections had only a handful of vacant spaces. But we found an empty one (or rather a vehicle about to vacate a space) then completed some food shopping.



Boorowa clock tower Boorowa clock tower - from the rear.

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