Sunday, 2 July 2017

To the North Coast

We had planned (again) to go to Hervey Bay this Winter.  Last time we attempted this the weather defeated us.  This time the bush fire changed our plans.  We did need a break from Winter however and decided to return to Topi Gums, near Forster, where we have stayed a couple of times in the past.

We got a nice early start and rumbled up the Hume Highway to Sydney with no dramas.  The M7 was also free of excitements.  On to the M2 and I noticed a sign about slow traffic.  Suddenly it was apparent that the traffic wasn't slow, but in the lane turning off to Pennant Hills Rd it was stopped.  A little drama ensued , but fortunately only very heavy braking.
This was the sight a little later.  It appeared there was far more traffic turning off the road than staying on it.  It appeared that a major contribution to the problem was closing on of the lanes on the off ramp.  This is part of the North Connex project.  I had never heard of this (unlike West Connex which is in the media every day due to some group or another objecting to it) but it seems to be a 9km long tunnel connecting the M2 to the M1, thus avoiding situation like this:
That was the situation all the way to Thornleigh, where a double intersection seemed to be causing a 9km tailback.  The tunnel is planned to be completed in late 2019.

Once on to the M1 it was business as usual with a rumble on to the Hawkesbury river

 ... and onwards.  It was interesting that the sandstone appeared grey and drab today, rather then the usual bright colours.  Perhaps they, unlike Carwoola, have had a lot of rain recently.

A little further up the road Frances took this photo of the information display in the car.  The impact of the traffic jam clearly shows.  While not at the level of the Jetta I reckon it is pretty amazing for a full size 4x4 to get consumption like this.
That does cause me to remember fuel prices.  In Canberra unleaded and diesel are about the same price (we pay $1.17 for diesel).  In Sydney unleaded was about $1:10 per litre and diesel was $1.33!!  When we turned off the Pacific Highway at Buladelah (about 260km North of Sydney) we saw it advertised for $1.16 at a United station!  Guess where we will be filling up for the return trip!  Let no-one say that fuel companies are trying to rip folks off at the start of the school holidays.  No sir! Not us! No-one here but us public spirited multi-national companies!

The other main River to cross was the Hunter.   After living in South Australia for a few years (where there is only one river and a few brooks) I am always astonished at the number of huge watercourse on the NSW Coast.
A small amount of excitement  occurred shortly after this as a warning light appeared on the car, suggesting an iffy diffy.  On stopping and consulting the manual it appeared that the rear differential lock was on.  Fortunately this was not a mechanical issue but that the switch had accidentally been knocked on!

Off the Pacific Highway and on to Lakes Way enjoying the forest and wondering at the mindset that changes the speed limit every time the road gets a bit twisty.  Surely this can only be to allow the cops to raise a bit of revenue?  The last bit of road was Wattlely Hill Rd which was to say the least somewhat pot holed. But we made it and got to Topi.

The dam was as scenic as ever ...
 .. and this interesting looking fungus (a stinkhorn, possibly Aseroe rubra) was growing beside it.
.Once we'd unloaded the car we took a short walk to straighten our bones.  Bird life was evident, with many of the species (including Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo) being Summer migrants to the Carwoola area.  The stand out were a party of White-cheeked Honeyeaters feeding actively on blossom in the canopy.

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