|Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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|23 August 2012 - Armidale to Casino|
On a sunny morning we made our way through Armidale onto the New England Highway and headed towards Glen Innes then Tenterfield where we intended to turn onto the Bruxner Highway for the descent down the face of the Great Dividing Range to Casino. Armidale claims, with good cause, to be the highest city or town in Australia (elevation about 1,000 metres) so we knew much of today's driving would be downhill since Casino is about 30 metres above sea level.
Leaving Armidale the New England Highway was pleasantly comfortable to drive on. The surface was generally good; a few sections had repaired potholes but many long sections were in very good condition. Traffic was very light with only a handful of heavy transports. I recall hearing a UHF radio conversation some time ago in which B-double drivers referred to a ban on B-double trucks on the New England but the full context was not clear; we saw some B-doubles but remarkably few for such an important interstate route.
We did see many caravans going in the opposite direction. Between Armidale and Tenterfield we passed at least twenty caravans, more than half with Victorian registration, heading south.
While passing through Guyra, 24 kilometres north of Armidale, we passed a caravan park proudly proclaiming that an elevation of 1335 metres made it the highest caravan park in Australia. Just before reaching Guyra we had climbed up Black Mountain to 1360 metres elevation and were well aware how high this region was. After Guyra the New England Highway climbed again up hills in the Great Dividing Range around Ben Lomond (GPS reported elevation of 1415 metres. We stopped for a hot drink at a small rest area at the top of one hill at an elevation of 1079 metres. Much of the hilly area had not been cleared and acacias in flower were very much in evidence. When we stopped it became even more obvious how dry the country is.
We stopped at the Glen Innes Information Centre to collect information for a future visit and to have a coffee at Mcdonalds which is beside the Information Centre. Glen Innes has at least two closed service station in town; probably because a new roadhouse on the highway north of the town offers low fuel prices and spacious area to manoeuver a vehicle.
From Glen Innes we continued to Tenterfield. The New England Highway remained a generally good road pleasant to drive on and total traffic was low. Many overtaking lanes made driving even easier since the faster travellers could pass us and disappear into the distance ahead. Caravans were the major category of traffic going in the opposite direction, many with Victorian registrations. Most of the land along the road lacked trees, either naturally or because of clearing, and sheep and cattle grazed. The land was still very hilly but the New England Highway, although still hilly, was gradually going down. By the time we reached Tenterfield the road elevation was 868 metres.
In Tenterfield we turned onto the Bruxner Highway which climbed a little, past vineyards and grazing stock to the edge of the Great Dividing Range at 990 metres then began going down through moderate to heavily timbered national parks. Road quality varied considerably and, although the route was going down into the Clarence Valley, some parts involved fairly steep climbing in the generally downhill run. After passing the village of Drake we crossed the Clarence River at Tabulam across what must be one of the oldest bridges still in regular use. The Bruxner Highway climbed fairly steeply out of the Clarence Valley to cross into the Richmond River Valley and begin a long descent to Casino. Traffic was light; the weather was clear but a bit windy.
In Casino we drove to our house, backed the van into its parking spot and began unpacking. Our 2012 trip was over.