Friday, 23 March 2012

A Day trip to Sydney

We are taking a birding trip soon and Frances had been thinking about getting a new pair of binoculars so that she can see the birds properly!  Unfortunately there is nowhere in Canberra to buy good quality binoculars and it is more or less essential to put one's hands (and eyes) on the product before purchasing.  So a trip to Bintel Sydney seemed to be indicated.

Although quite a long way (about 290km in each direction) it is either quiet country road or 4-lane highway until very close to our destination.  Thus a day trip seems quite feasible.

I checked the RTA site and the track seemed clear(ish)  of road works  - see below- and flooding.  The one possible bit of flooding was a reference to closure of the Currawang Road Bridge near Goulburn.  I didn't know where that was so rang the Council, where the lady I spoke to didn't know either.  She thought the road I was proposing to use (through Tarago) was clear, but suggested I ring the Tarago pub to check!  (I then found Currawang Road on Google and it was parallel to our route.)

The drive to the Hume Highway was fine, with the most interesting sight being a huge sheet of water in Lake George which was officially dry a year or so back.  Watch this blog for more on that after the weekend.   A brief comfort stop was made at a rest stop.
The route from Canberra to Sydney is named the Remembrance Drive and all the rest areas along the way are named after Australian winners of the Victoria Cross.  A sign gives some details about the events leading to that award.
The Highway traffic was quite light: European visitors have been known to marvel at the very long multilane roads with (by their standards) no traffic.  (Frances took the most of the following photos.  They aren't magnificent as she took them through the windscreen which was smeary due to the weather, but I thought they illustrate the required points.)
 The traffic built up of course as we got closer to Sydney.  This shot was taken in the long tunnel under the SW suburbs.  I believe the truck in the outside lane was there to ensure it cleared the roof.
Getting right into the CBD I thought these towers on the Grace Bros building (Paramatta Rd at City Rd) were fascinating.
 On getting to Bintel I thought this view of part of the ANZAC bridge with an old wharf in the foreground was an interesing shot.  Note the dreary grey sky - not at all a nice Sydney day.
Having the done the business with the extremely good folk at Bintel we headed off to visit another emporium (Peters) in Kensington.  We have done business with them on line and as we were more or less in the area thought we'd go and visit.   The physical experience was not as good as the on-line one, primarily because some of the stuff they displayed prominently was not to our taste.  So off back towards the Highway.

En route we passed this interesting building, which turned out to be a Greek Orthodox Church of St Spyridon.
Getting back to the tunnel - after an interesting tour of SE Sydney - we found it to be chock-a-block with traffic.  Not good for claustrophobes.  It emerged that the problem was a ute broken down about halfway through, converting 2 lanes to one.  Getting past that, and out in the air again, the traffic on the highway was very slow.  Eventually the reason for this appeared: it was the famous 'gawp effect!  Two notable manifestations of this in the past have been:
  • the Autostrada del Sole in Italy where a minor prang on the North-bound lane caused a 16km tailback on the South-bound lanes; and 
  • the road out of Queanbeyan towards Canberra airport where a 5km traffic jam was due to folk looking at a turbanned Sikh driving a ride-on mower.
In this case some vehicle inspectors were giving a truck a thorough going-over and everyone was slowing down to have a look: the result was a 5km tailback! 

Back up to cruising speed and then we saw a police car parked in the central reservation.  There was a line of text on his roof sign which was something about hazard and then I realised that a truck's tyre had exploded leaving big chunks of rubber all over the road.  About 5km further down the road the RTA hazard warning signs told us about this!  Nice try cop, no cigar RTA!

As we got to Marulan I was intrigued to find one lane blocked off for road 'works'.  This was supposed to have been finished a week ago (after causing chaos with a 14km tailback) and as shown below there was no obvious evidence of "work" being undertaken.  Not even a fluoro-jacketed dude leaning on a shovel.  Then I noticed patches of different textured concrete - highlighted in the image.  They must be just patching incipient potholes and then need a lot of dry weather - not available recently - to cure the new stuff.
The final shot is on the road towards Lake George showing a few of the magnificent wind farm along there.
We rather like these as sculptural forms as well as supporting the renewable energy push (as opposed to Halliburtonesque destruction for oil and gas).

No comments: