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Road Trip

South of Scone, New South Wales

We’ve done some solid road trips since moving to Australia. We’ve driven as far south as Mudgee and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales (both trips about 10 hours drive from Brisbane), and as far north as Yeppoon in Queensland (about eight hours drive). Not a bad effort for New Zealanders, considering that we would never have considered driving such distances back home. Australia is big; 7.692 million square kilometres big, and I’m still amazed by the distances people are prepared to drive for the sake of a holiday, to get to work each day or just to get to the beach. At a mere 268, 021 square kilometres, New Zealand can fit into Australia 28.7 times. In the 35 years that I lived there I was never more than 20 minutes away from the sea. I never once drove the 8 hour trip to our capital city – if I needed to go to Wellington, I flew.

It’s all a matter of perception. Back in NZ the four hour drive to get home seemed to drag, but we were always impatient to get to our destination. Faced with the vast expanse of Australia (and vast it feels) we have comfortably pushed our boundaries. At first it was tiring, but I’ve come to love these long road trips: conversations have time to get intense and there is time for silent reflection too. We’ll pit-stop in small towns to fill up the car, buy more chewing gum and get coffee from the local McCafe (usually the most reliable source of decent coffee in small-town Australia). Stereo blaring, we sing our lungs out to rock anthems and power ballads as the sun glints off the windscreen and the kilometres melt away.

The key to maximising your road trip experience is to prepare. I bake muffins the night before (usually these ones) and ensure we’ve got plenty of fruit and water within easy reach. Colin loads USB sticks with music. We discuss and plan the route we’re going to take, picking out lunch stops or maybe pre-booking an overnight stay. We get up early to pack the car, hit the road, beat the traffic.

If we have time we always take the long way around. This means tolerating bumpy country roads but there’s more to see than travelling via smoother, busier highways. We’ll stop in tiny towns to visit quaint shops and use the dodgy public loos. I spend much of my time drinking up the landscapes, and sometimes I’ll convince Colin to pull over on an isolated stretch of road so I can take photos of the view. It’s nice to take our time as we journey, to breathe and transition, constructing a sense of distance that is as much psychological as physical. Space, time, a change from the ordinary – it only takes me a few hours on the road to feel like I’m already on holiday.

Note: most of these photos were taken last summer on our trip from Brisbane to the Mudgee wine region in rural New South Wales. 

Sunflower field south of Tamworth New South Wales

Rural camp site on the way to Toowoomba

Pit stop on the Great Dividing Range

Gulgong NSW at Christmas time

Church grounds in beautiful green Armidale, New South Wales

Roadside wild flowers in Uralla NSW

Lavender field outside Glen Innes in northern NSW

Lake Windamere, south of Mudgee New South Wales

Taking the long way - country road south of Tamworth NSW

12 Comments

  1. Pingback: The year that was: 2015 | Chez Moi

    • Thanks, it was a wonderful trip. I’m so glad that we took the beautiful inland roads. It was definitely harder travel (at one point we found ourselves on an unbelievably narrow gravel road with unfenced cows wandering all over the road) but worth it for the views alone.

  2. “The key to maximising your road trip experience is to prepare” – couldn’t agree more, and like you, I always make sure I’ve got some healthy snacks available so we don’t have to stop for a crappy 3 day old service station muffin!

    Also, those photos are STUNNING! I especially love the music notes over the town 🙂

    • You are so right, service station food is awful in so many ways – I always regret it if I’m forced to buy it. Glad you like the photos – thanks for the feedback!

  3. Michele

    The historian Geoffrey Blainey coined the phrase ‘the tyranny of distance’ way back in the 60’s, and even though he had more serious issues in mind, the term will always serve to describe the hugeness of Australia. Mind you the bush pilots in the Northern Australia had a much more succinct description – MMBA (miles and miles of bloody Australia).

    Yet despite this ‘tyranny’, you and Colin seem to have discovered the great joy of long road trips. Phillipa will have to work on her Scot and teach him the fun of discovering small country towns, great open spaces and the many Big wonders Oz has to offer ( the big banana, the big pineapple, the big oyster, the big merino, the big prawn, the big cheese, the big chook, the big bull, the big koala …. ).

    We have driven Sydney to Perth (honeymoon, when the Nullabor was unsealed); Sydney to Darwin ( with the in-laws and two kids under 10); Brisbane to Hobart ( just two oldies, very relaxed), and numerous other trips including a drive from Darwin to Alice just for a long weekend.

    And of course we have clocked up plenty of miles around your beautiful part of the world as well. Driving in NZ is a very different experience, and even tho the distances are not great, the solitude and the beauty of many of the areas are very special.

    So, keep planning longer drives and bake plenty of muffins. And continue your great camera work. Thank you for sharing.

    • Sydney to Perth on your honeymoon?! Your road trips put me to shame! I guess we’re still kiwis at heart with a few more miles to go yet before any Australian takes our road tripping seriously…will keep working on it!

    • It is such a lovely town, so laid back and unpretentious, but with seriously good wines to be found. We travelled along the New England Highway to get there, detouring along the way. I’ve just updated the post with a link to my favourite road trip muffin recipe – it’s become a tradition to make these ones, as they travel well and keep well.

  4. I love your photos Chez and the way you have evoked the sense of slow excitement that long trips mean to me. I grew up in the country and also in Darwin, with Adelaide as home base so long drives were such a big part of life. Not so much now as my offsider is a Scot and less in favour of driving into the middle of ‘nowhere’. Glad you are venturing out and sharing your stories. Cheers, Philippa

    • Hi Philippa, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I have hope yet, for your Scotsman – if we were able to develop a love of Australian country roads then I’m sure that one day he will too. I can do long trips now, but I absolutely have to have good snacks and frequent stops to stretch out my legs. Still working on the stamina!

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