Our next stop was back towards the coast, and south to visit a friend in Moss Vale who had just had a baby. Getting there turned out to be a more of an ordeal than we thought it would be though. We should have examined the route before setting off, and I should have left with two full tanks of diesel…
Instead we were in McDonalds enjoying 60 cent ice creams, free wi-fi, pretty good coffee and a children’s play area. It was only pulling out of our new favourite place, that I tapped Moss Vale into Google maps.
So the route carefully set, off we go.
Ten minutes out of Bathurst I followed the voice and turned left, Erin looks up and gesticulates in a direction we’re not travelling in “Did the sign not say Goulburn that way?”
“Ah, yes, but there are two ways to go, and Google is telling us to go this way.”
“Hmmm… OK” she says, unconvinced of Google’s wisdom, and doubtful of mine.
“Maybe we should turn around.” she continues.
“Well, we’re heading in this direction now, and it’s not that easy to turn around on this road with the big trailer behind us, I’m sure we’ll be OK.”
“Hmm…” she said, and put the headphones back on.
The road took us up and down through a forestry commission of sorts, sometimes gravel, sometimes tarmac, always remote. GPS dropped out on the phone but there were no turns to take any way – it was just one lonely road, up in the hills, through a forest in the middle of nowhere, heading hopefully to Goulbourn.
And from Goulbourn we knew it was an easy highway onto Moss Vale.
With what I hope is only about an hour left (we’re now three hours into what Google maps said was a three-hour drive) we get to, well, whatever you call five or six houses round a T junction.
We wanted to go straight ahead. Past the enormous temporary road sign that said “No access for trucks, caravans and camper trailers.” Fuck.
We’re left with two options. Take a left and head to Oberon, which means we’re heading back towards the Blue Mountains, then down to Sydney, then down to Moss Vale after that – only about a five-hour drive.
Or we take a right towards, I can’t even remember the name of the place but I’d never heard of it before.
We look at maps, I look at the App I’ve downloaded, and we can’t figure a way around it. Bodes well for a massive trip round Oz…
So I go knocking on doors, and almost the last house on the street I finally get a response. I knew I would, as the door was open and I could hear some heavy breathing.
“Eh, hello..? Is anyone home…? Sorry to disturb you but I’m just looking for directions…”
“Hello..? Is anyone there..?”
Huffing and puffing, finally a reply.
“Yes I’m here, but I can’t come to the door.”
Hmm, OK, I’m thinking.
“My legs don’t work very well, and I’m on my walking machine right now.”
Ahhh, I’m thinking.
“Well that’s alright then don’t worry about it, I was just looking for some directions.
“Try him over the road, he’s a truck driver.”
“Eh, there’s nobody there, I’ve already tried.”
Large sigh, resigned groan “Oh well, I suppose I could come to the door, hold on a moment.”
I stand there, wondering what the fuck is going to arrive.
Knowing, at least, that I should be able to outrun it if needs be.
A sixty something woman, with grey and blue hair shuffles to the door with a pained expression on her face. She doesn’t look as old as I was expecting from the voice, and she actually seems to be walking a lot better than she had professed.
“I’m really sorry for interrupting you.”
Another groan. “I can’t walk very well you see, so I was on the walking machine.”
“Ay, yes, OK – ah, my family and I were trying to get to Goulburn, and the road ahead there is closed so we were wondering which other road to take, the right, or the left?”
“The road to Goulburn is closed?”
“Yes, can you see that big sign up there? We have a camper trailer so we can’t go through.”
“Well” she says. “If you go left you get to Oberon, and I’ve never taken a right, so I don’t know where that goes.”
What the fuck? Never pulled out of your driveway and turned fucking right before?
Time to get the hell out of here, I’m thinking.
“OK thanks, I’m really sorry for interrupting you. We’ll be fine, thanks.”
I turn around and walk back to the car, looking over my shoulder a couple of times – to make sure nobody’s following me with an axe. Erin’s there with the kids who are starting to get a wee bit fractious, as is Erin by now too I might add – with comments of, and I knew this was going to come “We should have taken that other road to Goulburn.”
So as we’re contemplating retracing our steps for three hours to the other ‘Goulburn’ road, or taking the five hour detour through Oberon, or the right hand turn to who the fuck knows – two youths in a ute turn up.
I flag them down and ask the best way to get to Goulburn.
“Straight ahead mate.”
“Eh, it says that the road’s closed for camper trailers… “
“Ah yeah, it’s just that they’ve taken the tarmac off Alexander Hill but you’ve got a 4WD mate, you’ll be right.”
And that was all the encouragement we needed.
“Great! Thanks, how far away is Alexander Hill?”
“Oh you’ll know it when you hit it mate.”
Off we went.
Two eighteen year olds. Bum fluff on their faces. Hi-vis tops on their backs.
My family in their hands without even a blink. Jees.
And oh boy did I know Alexander Hill when we got there. A massive, curving, steep decline covered in gravel that I took incredibly slowly in low gear, with a heavy break and the diff lock on. Erin asked what the smell was when we reached the bottom and I was quite relieved to be able to say, it was the breaks.
Anyway we made it down, thank goodness, and the road just seemed to keep going forever.
A little stressed out, but mildly elated from the Alexander Hill achievement, I now started to worry we were going to run out of diesel. I swear I could actually see the gauge moving down, and still no villages, no towns, nothing. Fuck!
Eventually we drive through a place that actually had a person walking down the street. I pull over.
“Excuse me, is there a petrol station near here?”
“Yes over there, but it’s closed. Where you going?”
“You on diesel?
“Ah you’ll coast into Goulburn on fumes from here, it’s only 15k’s away.”
Thank fuck for that.
And coast in we did.