Sunday, 7 June 2015

Driving up to New England

It's still a few hours until I have to be at Myall Creek for the meeting and the ceremony but I'm already prepared for the day. This morning I used a McDonalds self-service kiosk for the first time, to order breakfast, and I have to say that it was a fairly painless process; at least it will be simple to complete next time I need to do it. After breakfast I walked back to the motel through the deserted streets of Inverell in the dark as the sound of birdsong animated the plane trees.

Yesterday morning I left Sydney early and was at least well on the way to Newcastle on the M1 by 8am. Coming up to that city and wanting to go on the New England Highway, I started to notice the signs for the Hunter Expressway and when that turnoff came I took it. You turn left once again before you get on the new motorway. It wasn't built in 2013, which was the last time I used the New England Highway. On that occasion, I drove down from the Coast to Sydney with my daughter.

The new motorway is a nice road. It carves its way through the countryside all the way to Singleton, or at least you rejoin the old New England Highway about 25km east of Singleton. Then you bump along as usual through the remainder of the small towns in the Upper Hunter Valley until you start to ascend into the tablelands just past Murrurundi. But missing out on the usual malarkey west of Newcastle was no hardship, I really do have to say it. In fact, the absence of those stretches of heavily-trafficked highway was fantastic.

The rest of the way through to Glen Innes was pretty unremarkable apart from an RBT stop. I stopped fairly frequently on the journey to have snacks and to buy petrol and water. Past Glen Innes on the Gwydir Highway you are going west so the sun starts to come directly from in front through your windscreen. I arrived in Inverell well before dark and by 5pm I had a beer on the pub counter in front of me. For dinner it was lamb cooked with chillies along with fried rice at the Palace Restaurant on Byron Street. I watched the news and another program on the ABC before turning off the light for the evening. Because it promised to be cold I turned on the electric blanket before going to sleep.

I think that now they have finished the new stretch of motorway it's probably time to think about taking it all the way from the M1 to Tamworth, however. Probably there are numerous towns on the New England Highway north of that town that also should be bypassed in order to improve the motoring experience. It is certainly annoying to have to change speed all the time just to thunder through another tiny hamlet stuck out on the ranges like a ping-pong ball. But the new bit of road certainly does make the journey less tiring. Considering the number of road signs there are on the highway that say police are targeting driver fatigue, that would surely have to be a good thing.


Janine & Steve said...

I didn't realize that there was a commemoration. I'll be interested to read about it.

Matthew da Silva said...

I did a post about it on the blog which you can read. They run the ceremony each year, it's held at a spot about 50km from Inverell off the Gwydir Highway on the Bingara-Delungra Road.