This week has been a road trip. The Royal Flying Doctor Service (South East Division) held its Annual General Meeting. Now, in a normal year, this would be held in Sydney at the Parliament House on Macquarie Street, however 2018 is not a normal year: The Royal Flying Doctor Service celebrates its 90th year serving remote outback stations and communities. So to honour that milestone, the charity decided to hold the AGM at its Broken Hill base, and that was a good excuse for a road trip!
Up until this week I haven’t had a chance to explore this part of New South Wales, so it was good to jump in the Abarth and head out of Sydney. Had I not needed a suit for the meeting, I would have taken the bike, however it was still going to be fun.
This was the longest day and the first section was all freeway and getting through the commuting traffic past the airport and through the tunnels out to the South West. Once away from the commuters, the traffic thinned and I got some constant speed up. The first stop was in Goulburn and the historic Paragon Cafe for an early lunch. The cafe must have changed hands recently as it was quieter than usual, although I hadn’t been there for just over a year. My recollections have always been that it was a busy cafe at all times of the day.
Having refuelled the car and driver, it was back onto the freeway and Hume Highway down to Gundagai where I peeled off onto the A20 towards Wagga Wagga and the start of the hot weather. A quick top-up of fuel and back out onto the road for the last 260 kms to Hay, a small town in the middle of the plains. The roads down here are mostly straight with the odd corner and very light undulations. There is very good side visibility for animals and the trucks were nicely spaced to keep the speed constant. All up, the run was around 725 kms.
After a night at the Saltbush Motor Inn and breakfast at the cafe next door, I topped up the tank and headed out to Mildura, still on the A20. After lunch at Stefano’s Cafe on the edge of town and another top up of fuel, I then hit the B79 to Wentworth and this then became the Silver City Highway up to Broken Hill. This is a fascinating road, it’s like driving on Mars at times and there were several times when I had a large mirage ahead of me which made the road look like it was flooded! Day 2 was just under 600 kms and I stayed at the Ibis Styles Hotel in Broken Hill and dinner was at the hotel’s restaurant after a dust storm had enveloped the town followed by a heavy rain storm – that didn’t wash away any of the dust!
This was the focus of the road trip: the Annual General Meeting of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Dinner in the evening was at the Barrier Social Democracy Club in town, which was great value.
After heading up to the Miners Memorial for some photos and a refuel, I headed east on the Barrier Highway (A32) towards Wilcannia, 200 kms away. The plan was to top up the fuel and my stomach there, however there was only a fuel station open, so I cracked on to Cobar a further 260 kms down the road – there is nothing in between these two settlements! The main focus was to look out for animals. Roos and sheep haven’t yet figured out what vehicles are, however the goats have – they know to keep off the road, or at least cross it with plenty of space!
I stopped in Cobar for a late lunch, it’s a small mining town with about 5,000 residents literally in the middle of nowhere. The final stretch on the A32 was 130 kms long to Nyngan and other than running parallel to the rail line, was very similar to the road into Cobar, in other words straight with the odd corner. The road was fully sealed although patchy in places, however the Abarth took it in its stride and handled the heat and conditions well. The day had started at 14º and finished at 30º. Day 4 was another 600 kms.
This was the busy day – the A32 became the Mitchell Highway at Nyngan and heads south east through Dubbo and Orange to Lithgow. From having minimal traffic for 3 days, I was now back into heavier traffic as I got closer to Sydney. At Lithgow, I headed along Bells Line of Road into Richmond which is really now the start of the built up areas of the Sydney region. Day 5 was another 560 kms and all up I managed 2,500 for the week, which is a perfect road trip!
My photos hadn’t yet uploaded when this post was written, however look out for them on my Instagram page!