Stage 2: Sydney South to Melbourne with a detour West to Canberra.
Estimated kilometres: 4,224
Towns visited: 46
Modes of transport: 6
TITLE: GPS love.
IN SHORT: Sitting on my backpack in order to zip it up already. It’s fair to say packing light is beyond me.
I made my way to Bondi Junction and purchased a bus ticket to get me to the airport, once there I went to pick up my hire car. After waiting about for a half hour while it was put through its paces I returned to join a slow moving queue of 20 to sign the paperwork.
They kindly gave me a road atlas - published in 2007. Each day I become a bigger fan of my iPhone, I got the car as far as what I thought was a drop off zone, hello taxi rank. I wasn’t there long - a taxi driver lent on his horn and I accelerated off my mark in autopilot. With my iPhone on my lap I was guided to Wollongong. After doing a u-turn I learnt that when driving an automatic (a Subaru at least) you must lock it in drive not just assume that having it in ‘D' is enough, you can’t go more than 5kms an hour in that state. I tried.
Kiama was the next town on my route. Unassuming yet trendy and home to the famous blowhole, though on this day the ocean resembled a lake and the blowhole nothing more than a rock formation with a porthole to the sea.
Following a recommendation I took the road to Bomaderry via Gerringong and Gerroa arriving just after 4pm and easing into a relaxing evening planning the next day over home cooked laksa with friends.
TIP: It’s cute when a dog falls asleep with its head resting on your bare foot, especially one called Tony. Until it drools.
KMS: 38 + 190
TRACK: Endless Summer - The Jezebels
TITLE: On foot.
IN SHORT: Out the door by 9am with my camera gear and bound for a café on Bondi Road. An hour later I was running late after taking a wrong turn (or just not taking the turn). I got busy making my way up a rather steep hill after scoffing at the Englishman who had given me directions and suggested I take a cab. Nevermind. I reached the café and spent the next two hours with an insightful photographer whose talent is deservedly, internationally renowned.
It took me far less time to get back to where I was staying, it pays to pay attention.
That afternoon we walked to Bondi Beach and settled in at the North Bondi RSL to watch the sun go down.
The mood at Bondi Hardware on the way home lent itself to a late night cocktail, the sugar propelling us back up the hill toward home and bowl of ice-cream in front of the Logies.
TIP: Take note of your friend’s apartment number before you attempt to let yourself into someone else’s. Number 7 wasn’t expecting visitors.
TRACK: Paddling Out – Miike Snow
TITLE: Closed on Tuesdays.
IN SHORT: Berry! A rural village set in leafy surrounds and the perfect place to spend a lazy morning wandering among an array of boutiques, cafes, galleries and specialty shops. Some places are closed on Tuesdays, I'm coming back on a Wednesday so I can have breakfast at the Sourdough Cafe! From brunch at Berry to sipping wine at Silos Estate, the morning was quickly moving into afternoon.
Back on the road and bound for Jervis Bay, the weather was overcast but the rain held off allowing for a stroll on Hyams Beach, a visit to Green Patch and a drive out to the ill fated Cape St George Lighthouse in the Booderee National Park. With 23 ships wrecked between 1864 – 1893 in the vicinity of Jervis Bay it’s no wonder a new one was built in a more suitable location at Point Perpendicular. And, to avoid any confusion about which lighthouse was THE lighthouse, the Cape St George Tower was used as target practice by the Australian Navy and destroyed.
The Huskisson Pub was next on the agenda. A late lunch on the deck overlooking the beach followed by a coffee and a relaxing drive back to Nowra, relaxing because I was in the passengers seat - a big thank you to a friend is in order for taking the day to be my guide.
TIP: You might be convinced it’s rain you can hear on the roof, though before asserting your conviction it might best you check if your hosts have a fish tank.
KMS: 36 + 31 + 13 + 19 + 33
TRACK: Free – Pete Murray
TITLE: An early start.
IN SHORT: The idea was to get on the road before the rain woke up. Turns out it’s an early riser. The rain was coming down hard at 4am but by 5:30am when I set off it had gone back to bed with toast and a cup of tea. I reached Ulladulla by 6:30am to see the sunrise and in that moment the clouds served a purpose!
I turned off to check out South Durras before arriving into Batemans Bay and while the weather seemed okay I decided to make a break for Canberra and join another of the bold lines.
Canberra was where Dad acquired his semi trailer licence. Back in the 60s he and his best friend came through on a road trip of their own. They stopped to work for a few months at what is now the Old Parliament House, not as a suit, the uniform would not have been conducive to remodelling the foyer!
And so to Canberra; the King’s Highway took me inland and began with a 40km section that ascended over the Great Dividing Range, specifically Clyde Mountain, Clyde contributed fog and rain and I reduced my speed to 10kms an hour along with everyone else. Soon after I rolled into Braidwood and into the bakery for lunch, yes, lunch at 9:30am, I’d been up for hours!
It seemed everyone was in the bakery but before long I was on my way with a salad roll and a much needed coffee! Further on I crossed Dough Boy Creek, clearly named to induce a wave of guilt over all those who succumbed to the bakery goods at Braidwood.
First stop, Parliament House, I had no set plans for the day but as I was taking photos of the outside (in particular, the sign that said not to drink the water from the fountain), I thought I may as well go in rather than come back later. Then I remembered I was wearing thongs, flip flops, jandals (all bases covered).
I went up to speak with the serious looking security guard at the entrance and pointing at my feet I said.
“Can I get in wearing these?”
“Yes” he said smiling. “Just don’t take them off.”
I went to the Australian War Memorial next, this place is truly incredible and words will not do it justice, I recommend experiencing it for yourself.
A quick trip to the supermarket and then it was time to check into the hotel. Exhausted, I was in my pyjamas by late afternoon but writing 'til late.
TIP: Sing like no one’s listening OR watching.
TRACK: Take It Easy – Jackson Browne with Jack Johnson and John Cruz
TITLE: Noumea. No, it’s Narooma.
IN SHORT: I checked out at 9am. I’m fairly sure that if a bed were to have been made out of marshmallows and approved by the Chiropractic Association of Australia I'd just slept on it. I could’ve done with a few more hours though - nearly walked out leaving my laptop behind on the coffee table. My laptop did chameleon quite well.
After buying a coffee from the café at the hotel I was ready to start the day! Burnt my tongue on Coronation Drive and so left the coffee to cool while I went to the Old Parliament House for a quick visit. From there it was back the same way I’d come in. I was slightly disturbed by the amount inbound vehicles with surfboards – the weather must’ve been bad on the coast or Lake Burley Griffin had swell.
I ducked into Braidwood Bakery for another coffee and to the Newsagent's for a map. Then it was time to see what Clyde had in store. He’d gone all out – fog again, heavy rain and road works. You know, if I wanted to drive in clouds I’d have become a pilot.
From Batemans Bay I continued South - they’d certainly had some rain, the Tuross River had moved in on nearby paddocks and the low lying areas that surrounded caravan parks were now involuntary moats. I travelled through Mogo, Moruya and on to Narooma - calling into the local Golf Club to check out their view. As I sat, I wondered why they had the blinds closed in the dining room. They didn’t at all - it was fog!
Time to find somewhere to stay for the night, the first place I tried asked if I wanted an ocean view room – I found that quite funny considering the weather. They didn’t. Next stop was a B&B, it sounded great but I wanted to check out the town of Tilba first, once there I’d decided I would take the room but had no phone reception. After walking around with my phone in the air I had to resort to using the phone box, I highly recommend it. It shaves 10 years off your age though I’m fairly sure it still doesn’t cost the $2 I dropped to make a call.
And so to Woolworths in downtown Noumea/Narooma, the amount of times I got this wrong (aloud) concerns me. What do you buy to eat when you’re not staying somewhere with kitchen facilities besides takeaway? Biscuits, dip and wine of course! I bought a bottle of red for the label, not normally my style but at $16:99 I was pleasantly surprised and of course happy with the label: ‘Rolling’ - I blame Jack Kerouac. Anyway it was recommended by a lovely ‘New Caledonian’ who suggested I steer clear of the local rocket fuel. Gratitude. Merci!
TIP: Lookout for large puddles unless you want to re-enact the scene from countless movies where by you drive past and spray a small group of people waiting by the road side. Check!
TRACK: Call It What You Want – Foster the People
TITLE: A serious case of Goldilocks.
IN SHORT: What a way to start the day - a beautiful view and a wonderful home cooked breakfast, spoilt! Before leaving Narooma I drove down to Wagonga Head to photograph Australia Rock. As the name suggests, its natural precision is a window framed in the form of Australia, minus Tasmania of course. This formation is so old it may have been the cartographic blueprint for all those other maps that left Tasmania off - though the degree of difficulty in this case is hardly comparable!
Further along I jumped up on a rock so I could see better and got a little more than I’d bargained for. A sleepy seal opened his eyes squinting in the sun annoyed at having been woken up. I snapped away until he sneezed or coughed or growled (hard to tell) and then went to get coffee. Hugging the coastline I drove through Bermagui, weaved my way though the stunning Mimosa Rocks National Park and on to Tathra. I stopped there at the iconic wharf where on this day the water resembled a coke spider, the waves crashing and swirling beneath the timber planks.
After checking out Tura Beach it was on to Merimbula and this is where my story of Goldilocks begins (minus the three bears). You see I couldn’t decide where to stay. I will admit that I am exceptionally indecisive when I’m tired, yet inconveniently more particular. So while Merimbula was certainly a lovely town there were so many apartments and hotels and caravan parks that I didn’t know where to start, so I didn’t!
The next town was Pambula and like many of the smaller coastal towns it exuded a unique charm and it was here that I sat flicking through an accommodation brochure trying to find something ‘just right’. Just down the road was the town of Eden whose natural beauty and colourful history are worthy of your time! South of there I got the accommodation brochure out again and made a call. A friendly voice said “yes we have a room, a glass of wine and a cheese plate for you tonight and breakfast in the morning” I instantly breathed a sigh of relief and almost forgot to reply, moments later I took off back into town and checked into ‘just right’.
My room opened out onto its own balcony overlooking Twofold Bay and was more than I could’ve hoped for. After taking a shower to wash away ‘tired’ I went downstairs for that glass of wine. I had the pleasure of sharing this time with the owners, the hosts of this inspired B&B on magnificent Snug Cove.
Fascinated by the history of the town I went back to my room to write and read and basically just appreciate my surroundings!
TIP: The petrol cap is on the right side. Repeat.
TRACK: Even Though I’m a Woman – Seeker Lover Keeper
IN SHORT: I packed my bag again ready to hit the road and devoured a big breakfast to set me up for a day. On the way out of town I called into the Killer Whale Museum to meet ‘Old Tom’ the most important link in the chain of an extraordinary relationship between killer whales and the men who hunted others of their species. It is said that in the 1840s three pods of up to fifty killer whales worked a cooperative – they herded, harassed to tire and guarded against the escape of the humpback and southern right whales, effectively working as cattle dogs.
Farther down the road I turned off the Princes Highway to Mallacoota, I was enjoying the windy road until I rounded a bend and found a Winnebago who wasn’t. It was doing 10kms an hour and taking corners like a golf buggy on a ski run. 20kms later I pulled into the car park on the inlet – such a calm morning, pelicans waited around as fisherman cleaned their mornings catch and people strolled by taking in the view.
From Mallacoota I continued West, as I drove I pulled out a map to see how far to the next town. A while was spent unfolding it and rotating it until I realised it was a map of New South Wales and no longer useful. The next town of any consequence was Cann River, I called into the petrol station for water and continued on to Orbost to meet my guide! We made our way to the Bodribb River Jetty and boarded the Curlip Paddle Steamer, later venturing out to the beaches at Marlo and Cape Conran.
That afternoon I travelled another 50kms to Lakes Entrance and checked into a B&B. From the property’s commanding position on the hillside I was afforded extensive views over Bass Strait and a warm welcome. Retreating to my secluded haven I curled up in bed to write.
TIP: It’s not foggy it’s just time to wash the windscreen!
TRACK: No Rain – Blind Melon
TITLE: Bondi beckons!
IN SHORT: Back on the road! It began with an hours drive to the airport. Just so you know - I take to flying like a duck to wet cement so the journey never really begins until the wheels hit the tarmac. Then it's on! I hoisted 20kgs of luggage on to my back, put my 9kg daypack on my front and swung my handbag over my head. I looked like an over laden turtle and walked much like one too. I found a bus that took me directly to Bondi Junction - thankfully all the elderly people that got on were able to get seats so I didn’t need to feel bad about my luggage sitting up along side me playing corners.
Forty five minutes later I was dragging my gear down the bus steps and across the station floor as my friends arrived to meet me, friends I had made in Margaret River on stage one that were kind enough to put me up for two nights!
Once I’d inhaled lunch it was time to meet up with another friend for a long overdue drink.
Spanish was on the menu for dinner, the place had so much atmosphere. The live music took you right back to the streets of Barcelona and the tapas was sensational. I’m convinced the lead singer morphed into Guy Sebastian at one stage though that may have been a result of the Sangria.
TIP: Fog and road works make for more coffee on your jeans than you would probably like.
KMS: 107 + 914 + 41
TRACK: The Look - Metronomy
TITLE: Tired eyes.
IN SHORT: Breakfast on set. Well that’s what it felt like! The remarkable pole framed structure of this home was complemented by the endearing and thematic nature of the interior. Yet again my breakfast was sensational, as was the company.
After saying goodbye I headed out of town in the rain. Before long I was in Bairnsdale and then Sale where I turned onto the South Gippsland Highway. This took me through Yarram, Welshpool, Foster, Meeniyan and on to Koonwarra. By this time my eyes felt like they were freeze dried and by brain cells paced in anticipation of their next caffeine fix. I took care of this and then wandered up the road a little further to a store that had caught my attention. From the road I poised the camera - at which point I hear.
Shocked from; a) being yelled at in a town that promotes itself as ‘a small town with a big heart’ and b) being yelled at for taking a photo of a store front that someone had obviously gone to considerable lengths to make aesthetically appealing - I left town confused. My photo was nothing more than a show of appreciation of this fact.
By 3pm I had checked in to a cabin not far from the Surf Beach at Inverloch. At 4pm I was looking out the kitchen window as the dark sky advanced bringing with it fork lightening, thunder and a deluge of rain. A deluge comparable to the one just minutes earlier in the bathroom. I neglected to notice the angle of the shower head before turning the water on. A cleaner’s revenge?
Looking at a map I realised there probably wasn’t going to be time to visit Wilsons Promontory – thankfully that night over dinner with a friend of Dads I was informed he had actually been there, though it was surprising it hadn’t made the map it had definitely been done!
TIP: Don’t assume the people in the Tourist Information Centres are so familiar with the surrounding towns that they shorten them. For example: Loch is not short for Inverloch. Loch is a town and there is 37kms between the two. Fortunately I was speaking to this elderly English volunteer for long enough to realise we weren’t talking about the same place.
TRACK: Junk of the Heart (Happy) - The Kooks
IN SHORT: I stopped for petrol on the way out of Inverloch then pushed on to Portsea. I thought I was raring to go, but as the first hour passed I realised that my sleep patterns of late could be likened to charging my iPhone. I felt like I’d been metaphorically hitting ‘dismiss’ on the 20% low battery warning and then putting it on ‘charge’ for 5 minutes only to have it go flat again once in use.
Coffee time! I found a park in Sorrento and bought one to have while perusing accommodation options for the night. I wasn’t getting anywhere so I dropped into the Tourist Information Centre for some suggestions. Armed with her shortlist I went back to the car, by now it was bucketing down, water was racing down the street, barely contained by the curbing. When it eased I moved the car elsewhere and noticed that the side street to the Information Centre had flooded in just 10 minutes.
It was now midday and having made a reservation there were a couple of hours to fill before I could check in. I drove back out to Red Hill and Arthurs Seat. The view from the lookout was the first indication I had that the inclement weather had unfinished business, a second front was approaching so it was time for me to go! I was 20kms away from where I’d have preferred to be when it hit; thunder, lightning, torrential rain and just for something different, hail. Clearly this storm was not a perfectionist, it didn’t get it right the first time.
Finally I checked in; semi shaken, somewhat stirred. I ventured out to the supermarket not long after to pick up a few things and get some cash out. I came home with a few things and no cash. Hopeless. Plus somewhere between getting out of the car and opening the boot I misplaced my room key. 15 minutes later I’d been through everything and still couldn’t find it, upon leaning in to look under the seat the key appeared from nowhere and dropped onto the floor. It had been in the hood of my jacket. How it got there I will never know.
TIP: Two wrongs don’t make a right. But three do.
TRACK: Morning Light – Georgia Fair
TITLE: Rain, horizontal at times.
IN SHORT: The rain woke me up before my alarm clock. Breakfast was served at 8am but I was distracted. Apprehensive about the prospect of travelling in heavy rain again I wanted to get the drive underway and closer to over!
I’d spent the night in Rye and had decided to return the car in Frankston rather than navigate through Melbourne. So all I had ahead of me was a 45 minute drive. It sounds straight forward except the roadsides were flooded, the rain drops were on steroids and the windscreen wipers lacked the necessary 'flat out' option. It was a slow road in these conditions - I’m positive I worked off breakfast just through concentration.
Finally I arrived at the car hire depot. I lugged all my gear into their office and phoned for a cab to take me to the train station only to be told there would be a wait of up to 45 minutes. Could be I’d perfected ‘weary traveller’ because the consultant put the closed sign on the door and drove me up to the station himself.
The train took me to Southern Cross Station where I was to meet Mum who was flying in to join me for the last couple of days of Stage II as she had done for Stage I.
From there we taxied it to our accommodation, checked in and walked down to Southbank for a late lunch with friends. While we were inside and warm the wind joined the rain and wreaked havoc in the CBD. Umbrellas turned themselves inside out and people stumbled through the water that invaded their path.
Later that evening we braved the elements and the wayward umbrellas for a beautiful meal at an Italian restaurant nearby. Happy days!
TIP: Thongs, flip flops, jandals; not ideal footwear in a flooded petrol station – water and petrol make for a slippy surface. I slid, arms flailing, much like the first time I wore roller skates.
TRACK: Weather With You – Crowded House
TITLE: Lest We Forget.
IN SHORT: My Grandfather enlisted in the army here in Melbourne at Royal Park. Honoured to have inherited the war medals that were to have gone to my Dad - I knew incorporating ANZAC Day into this stage of The Bold Line would be a fitting tribute to them both.
We left the hotel on foot in time to reach Swanston Street for the march, the weather was cold, the rain incessant and the winds unpredictable. The rain dampened everything but people's spirits; the atmosphere gave me shivers and pride shone on the faces of hundreds as they lined the streets.
It was at the Shrine of Remembrance that we met up with my Aunty (Dad’s sister). The fact that we were all able to be there together made it a day to remember in more ways than one.
In the afternoon we caught a cab to St Kilda, wandered Acland Street and thawed out by a wood fire with a much needed coffee. That evening we had a meal at Crown and returned home to our 9th floor apartment which shared the same level as the man in the apartment across the street whose occupation will forever remain a mystery. His attire; green underwear and nothing else. It doesn't lend itself to your run of the mill profession I wouldn't have thought.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
TIP: As long as you’re wearing medals it’s perfectly acceptable to have filthy shoes and mud up the back of your jeans in a Country Road store.
TRACK: Carries On – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
TITLE: Evacuate the building!
IN SHORT: You have to shop in Melbourne, I’m fairly sure it’s stipulated in the terms and conditions of all good airlines. Mum and I got a cab out to Port Melbourne after completing this requirement, our cab drivers name was Harry.
Harry was from India and asked us more questions on the journey than we were required to answer in our national census. We pulled up out front of The London Hotel and bid him farewell, temporarily since he’d decided he would be taking us to the airport the next day.
We were in Port Melbourne to join the final bold line of this stage. Directly across the road from this Hotel is Station Pier and the freight terminal operated by the Spirit of Tasmania. I’d been there before with Dad as a child and had a meal or two at The London Hotel prior to setting sail. I guess it was effectively his local back then. This was 20 years ago so it had changed considerably inside but the exterior was still the same - to be somewhere we had been together brought back plenty of memories.
Later we took a tram back to the CBD. The intention was to spend a couple of hours relaxing at the apartment before going out to dinner. That plan was interrupted by sirens and what I thought was the distant sound of an alarm going off. Not so distant as it happens. A robotic voice filled the room to deliver this repetitive announcement; ‘wooop wooop wooop wooop - evacuate the building’. I was headed out the door pulling my shoes on and with Mum hot on my heels we made for the stairs.
Once the firemen had ascertained that it was the steam from a faulty fire hose in the basement car park that had set off the fire alarm we were given the all clear to return.
That night we met friends in Chinatown for dinner. The meal was brilliant, we couldn’t fault the food but the service was frantic! I’m positive the waitress said ‘chow down’ when she brought out our appetizers. She must’ve known that we were to spend the rest of the evening guarding our plates against the ‘efficiency’ of the other waiter. He shuffled around the room swiftly seizing plates as patrons lifted a last fork full to their mouths.
TIP: Belt up! The taxi driver who collected us in Chinatown refused to move off until we all had our seat belts on and rightly so. Except that he himself was the cause of the flashing red seat belt sign!
TRACK: Spiritus – Lisa Mitchell
IN SHORT: The final day. Surprisingly everything fit in my backpack far better than when I left home, must’ve had something to do with the 13 days of practice. True to his word Harry arrived to take us to the airport. Our flight departed just after 1pm and touched town in Launceston a short time later. I picked up my car and drove down the Midlands Highway bound for Hobart. There were grass fires all the way back but the sun shone and a light breeze kept the smoke from the road.
After 14 days on the road it was a privilege to gain such an insight into the demands associated with Dad’s line of work. By no means was it the same but there were plenty of contrasts to be made along the way:
Dad drove in weather that we try to avoid. While I was afforded some flexibility, he rarely was. Intense concentration could be draining but I still knew come evening I’d had it so easy - there was no need for me to drive all night, there was no place I had to be. I craved fresh food but had time to browse the aisles in the supermarket; he ate at Roadhouses and on the run. He would fall asleep to the sound of road-trains, the hum of refrigerated containers and trucks rolling into the Roadhouses. I slept in oversized beds with white sheets to the sound of silence. I learnt about the small towns and met the locals, he saw the inside of the freight yards, loaded trailers and hauled tarpaulins.
Nevertheless he loved being on the road and while conditions often presented challenges in the moment I know that a sense of achievement on reflection propels you forward. That said there’s more to it; I still meet people who knew Dad and seldom did he tell a story that didn't refer to someone he’d met. So it’s the conversations, the laughs and the countless new memories that have brought my time on the road to life.
Thank you to Carol, Keith, the elderly man on the bus to Bondi who sported long hair and aviators and an attitude toward life I hope to have at that age, Kel, Alistair, Elisabeth, Ali, the man in the big red ute who waited patiently for me to realise I was going the wrong way down a one way street, Elle, Dylan, Heather, Kerry, Jennifer, Eric, Peter, Winsome, Joy, Paula, Noah, Maz, Charles, Mum, Deb, Laurent, Liz, Cathy, Arthur; whose story telling is second to none, the man on the tram who yelled at me to get back on when I got off early and to anyone who made me coffee.
“You’re only alone on the road if you want to be.” B.C Mahony 2012
TIP: Things I didn’t need to take: A third jacket, the third pair of jeans, runners (best intentions), that many tops, a dress and heels (too cold Melbourne) and my book (no time).
KMS: 33 + 474 + 197
TRACK: Paradise – Coldplay