I was a little relieved to wake up feeling as I did Saturday morning; an able-minded member of human society again but still in a great deal of pain. My brain knew that Brisbane was a long way, but nothing I compared it to seemed to give my brain the sense of distance I would be dealing with. I decided to just take it as it came, so bring on the Hyundai.
The car was brand new, registered Western Australia with just 3,800 km on it. We were going to add at least another third on that. We had snacks, supplies and ample water for the desert of broken glass that was my throat. A quick glance at the road map, then we shot off north over the harbour bridge, waving a fond farewell to Sydney (for now).
After about ninety million traffic-sodden intersections of north Sydney, we arrived at the Pacific Highway. This is exactly as you might imagine it (minus the Pacific part admittedly, which is typically 4-5 km away). But it was just the kind of heavy-duty, 18-wheeler, cliff-lined, palm-tree’d, sweeping vista’d freeway that I (and many cooped up UK drivers) always wanted to drive on.
We drove for ages, and then some. It was a big ol’ highway. I took a scenic detour, then we decided against it for time was pressing, so we rejoined the Pacific. We continued driving. Time passed. George R. R. Martin probably wrote another book. Then finally, we came upon Newcastle, for we needed a break. And how far along the route was this great leap to Newcastle?
About a fifth, actually.
Still, I was enjoying the scenery and the geographical milkshake of placenames, if not the fact that my throat felt drier than the rocks by the roadside. Shadows were beginning to lengthen by this point, so we settled on reaching Armidale. But by Tamworth, some 150km short, it was pitch black so we grabbed some fuel just in case. When we did eventually get to Armidale it was just 8pm, but it felt like midnight. We found a motel, more expensive than we’d hoped but very fancy all the same, so took it. Continue reading