Travelling Australia - Journal 2015b
|27 April 2015
Devonport-Melbourne (Spirit of Tasmania) to West Wyalong
581 Km (on land)
On the Spirit of Tasmania we were woken a few times during the night by movement of the ship or by the sound of waves. It appeared to be a bit rough, at least until about 3 o'clock in the morning when things calmed down, presumably because we entered Port Phillip Bay. Then we were woken up at 5:30 or thereabouts by a loudspeaker broadcast letting us know that we were on time and vehicles would begin off loading at 6:30.
We had plenty of time for coffee while waiting to be called to our vehicle which was on Garage Deck One where Decks Two and Three had to be cleared before the large hatches over access ramps could be raised allowing vehicles to drive up and go to the exit ramp. The public areas in the ship were just about empty of passengers, with cleaners moving in, before we were called.
Once the hatches were raised the Garage Deck cleared quickly under the experienced direction of the ship staff. We drove out of the bow along the access ramp from Deck Three into very early morning (just after sunrise) Melbourne. We had a small map from the ship's information centre describing the best way to get to West Gate Bridge and the Hume Freeway; this was very useful in negotiating Port Melbourne's streets and we were soon on the Melbourne Ring Road.
Ring Road traffic was moving smoothly and rapidly with 100 kph not uncommon, as we made our way past several exit ramps to the Hume Freeway. Traffic on the Ring Road was fairly heavy and many of these vehicles turned off onto the Hume but then about half the vehicles going our way left the freeway near the northern edge of the residential area.
We refuelled shortly after leaving the Ring Road in the expectation that fuel would be more expensive further away from Melbourne. This expectation was completely wrong, not only was petrol more expensive here than in Tasmania but petrol was also cheaper all along the highway to West Wyalong.
Returning to the Hume Freeway we continued north past Seymour where we turned on a freeway interchange onto the freeway called the Goulburn Valley Freeway in Victoria. In fact, this is more conveniently considered as the southern end of the Newell Highway running the length of New South Wales and serving as the major inland transport artery to Queensland. Near the Vic/NSW border I asked a local resident what the road was called and she replied that it was really the Newell Highway but Victoria calls it the Goulburn Valley Highway. Whatever its name, the route was labelled as the A39 (or route 39) by Victoria and every other state.
The Freeway ended a few kilometres before Shepparton, after several new sections indicating that work is still in progress. Hopefully future extensions will take the freeway around Shepparton which is a busy shopping centre needing time to negotiate; they have a by-pass route but it is not very effective. Shepparton also has very restrictive speed limits.
Past Shepparton we were onto a highway of mostly long, straight, flat sections to the Vic/NSW border. We stopped at Koonoonoo before the border for strawberry pancakes at the Big Strawberry.
Continuing into New South Wales we made good progress in good weather for travelling, a good road and very light traffic. There were very few heavy vehicles on the road or in rest areas.
Between Grong Grong and Ardlethan we encountered a group of twenty to thirty Eastern Grey Kangaroos moving together in a single, loose mob crossing the highway. Fortunately there was no other traffic because the kangaroos looked as if they had urgent business and bounded across the highway without pause. They were coming off an open paddock where we could not see anything to have frightened them but they were is such a hurry that they may have been frightened by something. One pair had become separated from the main mob and was heading back away from the road, but the smaller one could not get through the wire fence; it appeared to be jumping into the wire instead of into the gap between the wires and was bouncing back from the fence at every attempt. The second kangaroo of this pair (possibly the mother of the smaller one) was standing inside the paddock carefully watching the smaller kangaroo trying to negotiate the fence.
Arriving in West Wyalong we did some shopping before going to the motel we had booked.