|Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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|23 March 2012 - Burrinjuck Waters to Albury|
A cold and cloudy morning with an even colder, sharp wind greeted us this morning as we packed up to leave Burrinjuck Waters. Half a dozen kangaroos watched us head away from our site up the hill to the entry gate. After passing the boom gate we turned onto the access road running 6.7 kilometres to the edge of the park area. This is a very winding road and narrow in parts; too narrow for a caravan to pass any oncoming vehicle (except a motorbike). Periodically I broadcast our presence and location on UHF channel 40 but I hadn't seen UHF radios on many vehicles so wasn't too optimistic it would do much good. In the event we didn't meet any other vehicles before we reached the edge of the park and the road widened to full two-way lanes and we proceeded at about 60 kph towards the Hume Freeway.
This quiet country road was also used by birds. Several flocks of galahs feeding on and alongside the road burst into a pink and grey cloud as we approached; fortunately they took off into the wind blowing from the side so were soon clear of the road. A small flock of white-winged coughs, all-black on the ground, became a mass of black and white as they too took off into the wind as we approached. Once we cleared the heavily timbered State Park we passed grazing land dominated by sheep with a few cattle; this continued until we joined the dual carriageway Hume Freeway.
Traffic on the Hume Freeway was very light, a few heavy transports, a few caravans and some sedans. Two lanes in each direction allows faster vehicles to proceed without being held up by slower vehicles so there are no queues behind trucks and caravans. The road passes through mostly gentle hills, with a few big ones, the land is lightly wooded and heavily devoted to grazing. The weather was good for travelling initially with sunshine, a little cloud and less wind than earlier in the morning. We stopped at a roadhouse near Gundagai for fuel and a cup of coffee. There was more traffic now with heavy transports and caravans now fairly common; most of the vans were heading north towards better weather than promised in Victoria ahead of us.
After we left Gundagai the clouds ahead grew thicker and darker. Rain began as we passed the turn-off onto the Sturt Highway to Wagga Wagga, Hay and Adelaide and it looked as if we were in for an unpleasant time driving in heavy rain. But then the rain cleared away and we passed through the bank of cloud to be under mainly blue sky for a while.
While in the rain we passed the turn-off to Tarcutta which has, at long last, been bypassed by new construction highway. After many years of on again-off again construction the duplication of the Hume Highway in New South Wales is nearing completion (the Hume in Victoria was duplicated many years ago). Since joining the Hume near Yass we had been driving on a duplicated highway which would continue to Albury and the Victorian border except for the short section through Holbrook. The freeway ended 5.5 kilometres before Holbrook and there was a 4 kilometre section of non-duplicated road on the Victorian side of Holbrook; the Holbrook bypass is under construction and is expected to be opened in the next three years. Once that section is completed it will be possible to drive from Melbourne to Sydney on a duplicated freeway.
We stopped in Holbrook at the submarine rest area and walked to the bakery which was doing a very brisk trade at lunch-time. For the half hour or so we were there the queue at the counter was never less than seven people waiting to be served. The impact of a bypass on businesses such as these relying on the passing traffic for their customers will be interesting.
After we left Holbrook the weather deteriorated again and the wind became strong and gusty enough to move the caravan around uncomfortably for a few short periods. In Albury we followed the GPS to the address of the selected caravan park and checked in. Then we went to the nearby shopping centre to find that it was Cup Day half day public holiday and only a few supermarkets were open, smaller shops (such as the newsagents) were closed; but we had planned mainly to do food shopping so were not seriously inconvenienced.