Friday, April 16, 2004

Life is a Highway

I was a bit nervous about driving from Canberra to Melbourne, as I'd never really driven any significant distance on my own before, and 660km is a reeeeeally long way. But I was also looking forward to the experience - I love to drive (especially since I traded in my "hoonmobile" Gemini for a zippy new Astra, which is red, so it goes faster) and I was well prepared, with a stack of good CDs and plenty of snacks to keep my sugar levels up.

So I headed for the Hume Highway early last Friday morning. It was perfect driving weather - the sky was blue, and the sun was shining, but it wasn't uncomfortably hot. The Hume stretches all the way from Sydney to Melbourne, and connects with the Barton Highway about an hour's drive north of Canberra (yeah, it's a bit weird - you have to drive north initially to head towards Melbourne. Who knows).

Before I knew it, I was passing through Classic Australian Folk Song Territory. I made a pitstop about 2 hours into the drive, to take a quick snap of the Dog on the Tuckerbox (yes, there really is a statue of a dog perched on a tuckerbox...I forgot to re-set my odometer to check the distance, though!) before continuing along the road to Gundagai. A couple of hours further on, I saw the sign for the turn-off for Cootamundra, and it wasn't too much later that I passed dear old Puckapunyal by.

Thrilling as it was to recognise the names of all these places from rockin' Aussie songs (well, it was kinda cool...they don't write songs about Albany or Geraldton, do they!), my real excitement came from witnessing the dinky di Aussie creativity demonstrated in the names of the creeks that the Hume passes over. Let's see, I crossed...
- 2 Mile Creek
- 5 Mile Creek
- 11 Mile Creek
- 4 Mile Creek
...and just when I was beginning to think that creative souls who named our creeks must have exhausted all their brilliant ideas, I came to
- Sandy Creek

Whatever will they think of next!!

It took a grand total of 7.5 hours, 7 changes of CDs, one petrol refill, three bottles of coke, an apple, half a mega packet of Doritos and a packet of Starburst Fruit Gummies to reach Melbourne.

I didn't have a Melbourne road map, but that was OK, coz I have an unbeatable sense of direction, and I knew that the friend I was staying with lived off a main road in Kew, which I knew to be kinda near the CBD in a northeasterly direction. 2 hours later, after circling the area SO MANY BLOODY TIMES THAT I COULD DRIVE AROUND IT BLINDFOLDED, I finally stumbled upon the main road, and made it to Marijana's house. Thank God.

(If you're thinking the obvious thing would have been to just call Marijana and ask for directions, you're right... but as she's only been living in Melbourne for a couple of months, and doesn't have a car, it wouldn't have helped. And the service station guy who I asked to point me in the right direction was absolutely useless, too.)

Anyways, had a FABULOUS weekend in Melbourne - I love it! People in Melbourne are so much cooler, really - and you could wear anything at all in Melbourne and noone would look at you twice. I love the tree-lined streets, the funky cafes, the haphazard driving and the trams, the friendly people and, of course, the shopping. And I love that there are always people out and about, any time of day or night! It's a stark contrast to Canberra ;)

So over the weekend, I had the biggest shopping day I've ever had, ate way too much, caught up on all Marijana's goss, saw my sis and bro-in-law who happened to be holidaying in Melbourne, too, and before I knew it, it was time to hit the road again.

Have you ever noticed that anyone who's driving slower than you is a moron, and anyone who's driving faster is a complete maniac?? Well there was a maniac in a sporty red Mazda who cut me off early on in the drive back to Canberra - I kept pace with him for a while before coming to my senses and dropping back to a reasonable speed, and watching him zoom off into the distance. Imagine my satisfaction when about half an hour on, I saw the flashing red-and-blue lights, and Mr Maniac's car on the side of the road. Tee hee!

Next road trip TBA.


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