June 04 2020. Friday.
At the end of May we are still being told we are not supposed to travel interstate. However restrictions are starting to ease and a significant family event thang is happening on June 6 over the long weekend in Melbourne. Hmm. Do I go? What if I bring Sydney germs to Melbourne or vice-versa. I check Qantas and a one-way 07:00 flight from Sydney to Melbourne is $1140. Bargain. Driving is the only option. I haven't owned a car for decades so hiring one is my only choice. It's not that unusual for people to do this drive, however the last time I did it myself was in the mid 1980s. During lockdown, I'd been vaguely thinking about this idea for a new travel website so thought driving might not actually be a bad idea anyway.
Technically there is nothing stopping anyone from driving across the border though I did need to check several times on State government websites as it is a bit ambiguous. We are allowed to drive across the border into Victoria, though it took some research to figure out if one could return to NSW. A friend seriously suggested I call the police in Albury to confirm – which seemed completely ridiculous. Stuff it. I'll risk it.
Booked the car and decided to leave at 05:45. It's a Hyundai Kona which I name Maccona. Me and Maccona head off from Sydney while it's dark and pretty frigid. Left home near Kings Cross and hit the tunnel. Ambushed by first police radar just before the airport tunnel. Realized I was going 65 kmh in a 60 zone. Great. That was probably a ticket and I'm only on my first 5 km. Can't figure out Macconas damn cruise control.
Lots of traffic out of Sydney for the first few hours, including once arsehole tailgating me at about 1.5 meters with lights on full beam while i'm driving like a nun in the left lane, right on the 110 kmh speed limit. Then it overtakes me and I can see it's one of those double container semitrailer things. A bit of social distance on the roads might save a few lives too.
As the sun rises to a perfection cloudless day it hits -2.0C and there's intense frost on all the hills. Turn off to a smokey Goulburn. Not much street action at 07.00 and no idea where I'm driving but looking out for somewhere to grab a coffee. When a massive 4 storey concrete Marino Ram appears on my left I know I am safe. There's a McDonalds and other fast food but all the action seems to be at the Goulburn bakery. It's tradie and NSW Police force breakfast central. Full of 200 cm tall cops who I assume work at the new Goulburn SuperMax 2.0 prison. I queue up and act butch and order a custard tart and latte. The sturdy tart weighed 1/2 kilo. Tasted good too.
Cruised along on the Hume Highway. Noted that the countryside was looking very green around this part of NSW. Went past another police radar just out of Goulburn and think I was going 5 kmh over 110 kmh. Probably another ticket. Finally figured out the cruise control as my leg started to go numb on the accelerator.
Decided to take the Albury turnoff to take a look and find some lunch. Turned left and realized I was going out of town again and towards the Hume Dam. I am a bit of a sucker for hardcore industrial infrastructure so out of curiosity kept driving right up to the dam wall which turned out to be quite fascinating. The plaque says they 'turned the first sod...' in November 1919 – which would have been just at the end of the Spanish Flu. It wasn't completed till 1936 which seems like a very long time. The dam wall design is completely streamlined and has distinct Art Deco influences. The spillway was letting out water as the source of the Murray River, and I had the entire spectacle to myself with absolutely no tourists or any signs of life which was kind of pleasant. Though on second thoughts, probably also an excellent location for a murder. The expansive view from the dam wall is across to the Snowy Mountains.
Once you head back past Albury and across the Murray River into Victoria the road turns straight for hours. This is part you need to stay awake and avoid driving into trees. Turned off at Euroa and got petrol in some gargantuan scale service station. Stopped in Euroa and walked around town. Seemed quiet for a sunny friday afternoon of a public holiday weekend. Noticed plenty of empty shops which did feel somewhat ominous. Found another bakery and bought a Lamington to get me through to Melbourne.
Since it has been so long that I've done this drive the end of the Hume now turns into some other freeway and so I ended up somewhere near Melbourne Airport. Congested traffic as usual and arrived in inner Melbourne at 16:45. So 11 hours. Oddly I've felt more exhausted after doing the same trip by air – which sometimes takes up to 6 hours or more – so it's really not a huge difference, plus I did get to see a Chinese restaurant named Flam Shan, a big concrete Marino Ram and a Dam.
02 Melbourne to Lake Eildon overnight trippt