I was up at 5 and the kids around 5.30, to finish putting the last things in the car and try to get an early start. I was already hitched up which made things easier and quicker. Tony got home from night shift around 6am, which was fantastic as we all got to say a proper good bye, and we were on our way by 6.40. Everyone was very excited to finally be on our road trip that we’d been talking about and altering the plan for months.
Just past Tony’s work (so about 8 minutes into the trip) we were stopped at a road closure – there’d been a bad (fatal) accident further along the Melba Hwy so we had to detour. We went the back way to Healesville (we didn’t want to drive back past our house!) and then up Chum Creek Rd – which is windy and tricky to drive at the best of times, so I was quite nervous attempting it in the trailer. I drove slowly and carefully and it was fine. We got to the top of the slide an hour after we left home – usually it would take us 15 minutes. Everyone was in a good mood and it had felt like an adventure – I was a bit worried that adding an extra hour driving to my already huge driving load for the day would mean we couldn’t get as far as we wanted to – but I figured I’d just stop whenever we needed to and I’d see how we went.
Caitlin controlled the music play list and all the kids had a nap in the first couple of hours. It was a fairly easy drive up to the Hume Fwy. At some point I realised I hadn’t brought along our Camps Australia Wide book, which I was looking forward to using to map out our trip and help find cheap campsites – I’ll just need to use my regular map book and wiki camps, it will be fine (though not as fun or easy).
I was getting tired as we got to the Hume so we stopped at Mokoan rest stop and had some breakfast (yoghurt, granola and hot cross buns). We explored the area (there’s a (very) little walking trail) and looked at the maps and I did a bit of yoga. I made myself a cup of tea and after about an hour and a quarter we hit the road again.
We started listening to ‘Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians’ and discovered that it is hilarious and very entertaining, so that made the time pass much more quickly. We drove through to Gundagai and stopped at the Dog on the Tuckerbox. The kids got a frozen coke when I got petrol, and I got a cornetto from the gift store at the Dog – I always forget that the toilets down there are not public toilets, you need to be using the store to use them. We had a picnic lunch on the lawn near the Dog, and the kids were keen to get back into the car and keep driving (thank you audio books) but I was too tired so I had a lie down for 10 minutes or so – it was beautiful lying under gum trees and listening to galahs. It was really hot thought, hot and dry.
Eventually I felt awake enough to drive. I enjoy driving the Hume past Yass, lots of memories of all the times we drove it from Griffith, and when I used to go to Canberra a lot. After about 90 minutes I stopped again at a rest stop and made another cup of tea. From there it was an easy drive to Yerrinbool and we arrived almost exactly 12 hours after we’d left home.
It was 8 ½ hours of driving altogether (with the detour) – I don’t think I’ve ever driven that far in a day when I was the only driver. So I was feeling pretty exhausted and also very proud that I had managed it.
The friends we are going to see in Brisbane used to live in a great place in Yerrinbool (near Mittagong) with lots of room in the backyard for camping. Friends of theirs now live there and said we could camp for the night on our way through. The kids played on the trampoline and helped set up, surrounded by chickens and a couple of ducks. We did a very basic set up – I didn’t unhitch and I didn’t set up the bunk beds, Caitlin slept with me. When our hosts arrived home the kids helped them put all the chickens away and they gave us 6 eggs – so I cooked carbonara for dinner. It was great to eat something substantial after snacking all day. Our hosts helped the kids set up a campfire and we sat there for a while before heading to bed – everyone was exhausted.