Travelling Australia - Journal 2015c
|20 July 2015
Canberra to Sydney (Emu Plains)
The morning of our planned departure from Canberra was cold with frozen water hoses and heavy frost. Bright sunshine eventually removed the frost but thawing out the hoses and pipes feeding site taps took longer and pipes were still frozen when we left. Before we drove out of EPIC I checked the Live Traffic NSW web site for the condition of the road to Sydney. At 0832 a warning was issued about "alpine conditions" on the Hume Highway near Collector north of Lake George but an hour later this had been cancelled and the road was clear of weather warnings.
Driving out of Canberra on the Federal Highway to join the Hume Highway we were often in fog, around Lake George the fog was particularly heavy and extensive; the outside air temperature there was 4°C. But the fog cleared north of Lake George; the site of the "alpine conditions" warning on the Internet was still marked by roadside signs of a traffic hazard ahead but there was nothing to be seen.
We joined the Hume Highway and continued northward past Goulburn; highway elevation was about 650 metres which was maintained as we passed the place where the road had been closed due to snow a few days earlier. The spot was marked by a badly damaged sedan which had come off the southbound lane and remained among trees down the hillside off the road. It was severely crumpled in the front, the back and along the side we could see. But there was, fortunately for us, no sign of snow or ice. The road climbed a little to be at 700 metres passing Mossvale (the Hume Highway doesn't go through any towns; they are all reached via well-signed exits but location along the highway is described by the nearest town) but there was still no sign of ice or snow.
From the 700 metre elevation around Mittagong the Hume Freeway began a long descent from the Southern Tablelands into the Sydney Basin, reaching about 50 metres near Campbelltown. The road was dual carriageway, two-lanes in each direction, traffic volume was moderate increasing as we got closer to Sydney. Road was either concrete or bitumen; many concrete sections were aging and no longer provided a good quality surface. Around Campbelltown the two lanes heading towards Sydney expanded to three then four lanes and traffic volume increased as the Hume Highway became the M5 motorway.
At the appropriate interchange we transferred to the M7 motorway (sometimes called the Ring Road). This is a toll highway without cash booths; I had established a 10-day electronic account on the Internet before we left Canberra and our number plate would be photographed and relevant charges levied on my credit card.
The M7 has two lanes in each direction, both lanes quite busy with many heavy transports. From the M7 we transferred to the M4 motorway to get to Penrith/Emu Plains. Unlike the M7 this is not a toll road; with four lanes in each direction it was handling a large number of vehicles in the middle of the day. We turned off the M4 at the Emu Plains exit to go to the selected caravan park where we checked in.