Aah, “the Pacific Highway”. What kind of image does that name evoke? I could see it in my mind – a delightfully quiet road, with the sides lined by swaying coconut palms and little shacks beside the road serving ice cold cokes in a bottle. Of course, its nothing like that – but then we already knew that, having travelled it before in a McCaffreys bus. But last time we travelled most of it overnight, so it was just a series of black stretches punctuated by small towns or service stations (I remember well “The Big Prawn” roadside restaurant, distinguished by the big prawn stuck on the roof). So what is the Pacific Highway really like? Well, from Sydney for the first 150 miles it’s a motorway, and just like motorways at home – its boring and repetitive. But then the motorway kind of runs out, and it turns into a normal road, occasionally swapping into a dual carriageway. Because it’s a holiday weekend here (Monday 6th is Labour Day, our second Labour Day of the year), the roads are devoid of lorries, and are busy with cars and utes (an Ozzie invention, a Ute, or Utility Vehicle, is a two part car – the front half is a saloon, and then the back half just isn’t there at all, and instead it has a platform, sometimes with sides like a pickup). Amazingly, since last time we visited Oz, they’ve invented the ‘posh ute’, by making the bodies really sporty, but the back half still looks like a dumper truck. Anyway…
Today, with the miserable weather, the Pacific Highway looked really special, with occasional bursts of driving rain. Just so that you too can feel in the Oz-mood, we took a photo (how sad is that?). The other feature on the photo, apart from the rain running down the windscreen, is the grill at the bottom of the windscreen. We don’t think they’re Roo Bars, because they’re not made of steel the size of scaffolding poles, which is what all the 4×4’s have on the front. So we think these are to stop stones hitting the windscreen, in which case they don’t appear to work because there are 4 huge chips already on it. Whatever they are, it means I’m going to be staring through bars for the next two months (quite right, some would say!), and Sarah’s got an excuse to leave the driving to me – she says she can’t see over them from her seat!
But it isn’t all rain and roads. For lunch we stopped beside Boomerang Beach, when the sun shone brilliantly and we felt warm and happy.
We drove a further 200 miles north today, passing into ‘Lake Country’ – on the right we kept seeing the sea, and on the left we saw a series of big and small lakes. This was another area we’d missed last time, because it was night, so it was good to drive. All the time we spotted wildlife for the first time, like kookaburras, parrots and pelicans.