Travelling Australia - Journal 2014
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4 April 2014

Wangaratta to Canberra
Slight rain began falling as we were connecting caravan and tow vehicle this morning and by the time we drove out of Wangaratta onto the Hume Freeway rain had become gentle but continuous. The cloud base was very low, sometimes merging with the tops of nearby hills. Outside temperature was 17°C and didn't increase by more than a degree all day.

The rain continued, sometimes heavier, sometimes lighter, as we drove out of Victoria, past Wodonga and Albury and into New South Wales. Frequently the rain was heavy enough for spray thrown up by tyres to degrade visibility requiring lights on vehicles if they were to be seen in rear vision mirrors. Twice we saw vehicles without lights nearly hit another vehicle pulling into the right lane ahead of them because that driver was unable to see the unlighted vehicle behind.

Although the freeway now goes around Holbrook we stopped there for lunch. Holbrook was the last town bypassed by the Hume Freeway and appeared to rely heavily on passing vehicles for business. Today many vehicles had turned off the highway to stop in Holbrook but the main street was still quiet compared to the traffic seen on previous visits. Time will tell how Holbrook responds to the freeway.

The rain eased while we were in Holbrook and, for a while, the road appeared nearly dry. Then the rain resumed as persistently as before. It wasn't really heavy but didn't stop once it began. Driving with lights on and windscreen wipers going became standard.

The surrounding land became more hilly as the road turned to the north-west towards Sydney. Between heavier rain squalls and low cloud we could see the green colouring of paddocks near the road continuing to the very tops of surrounding hills. It is hard to believe that much of Australia is suffering from a serious drought where brown is the dominant colour of paddocks, not green.

Although the road was climbing it wasn't on a long single hill but in a series of smaller hills, each higher than the one before. When we passed 400 metres elevation we were definitely getting higher (the rain continued) then we reached the highest point in this section of freeway at Conroy's Gap (650 metres elevation) about 18 kilometres before Yass.

The motorway goes around Yass before the turn-off to the Barton Highway to Canberra. This was mostly a normal highway with a moderate number of vehicles going in the opposite direction, presumably weekend traffic on this Friday afternoon. In Canberra we followed the GPS to the exhibition park generally known as EPIC (Exhibition Park In Canberra) which includes a caravan and camping park when the site is not completely allocated to exhibitions and shows. The location, fairly close to the centre of Canberra, is particularly attractive and EPIC is popular with caravanners. We didn't arrive until just before 4.00 p.m. and most powered sites were occupied but we did find one available and set up in the rain. While driving through Canberra we had travelled on very wet roads and passed overflowing creeks and drains; the surrounding hills were covered by low cloud and sporting events for Saturday (tomorrow) morning had been cancelled because of the rain.

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