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:: Tuesday, 23 November 2004 ::

219932 on the clock and I am back in Sydney. Massive Mazda action for the drive from Tamworth back home. And just what was spied on this trip?

- The landscape outside of Tamworth south of town is suddenly a little more dry, not much mind, still with the greeeness but only a tinge now in comparison with further north.

- There are loads of little towns all the way along the new England Highway, so the speed changes out from 100 down to 60, 50 and 40 (I kid you not) in some parts. I felt sure I could have got out and pushed the car faster than the speed signs allowed. A gorgeous tiny stone church in Murrundi. Everything else in town seemed made of wood but the church was a delight. Some weatherboard country pubs that so deserve to be revisited. The acoustics of those joints would be fab, I will wager.

- Stopped for scones in Scone, natch, but the bakery was all out. Sadness for an instant. Sure, there was lingering desire to consume a scone superpronto – you how it goes when you are told you cannot have something – but if there just ain’t any left in the bakery whachagonna do about it? Cook ‘em up yersel’? I do not think so.

- Sconeshire (I kid you not) is horse country. Lovely roadside pleasure to be had for those of us who are equine lovers. Much toot tooting from me, to get the attention of the lovely ponies. Most looking up but only one trotting alongside the fence.

- Nearby to Scone, still within Sconeshire, is Aberdeen. Tiny tidy town but it has a cakeshop and....welll, yep, I found some scones there. Culinary satisfaction achieved. And boyo were they good.

- On to Muswellbrook - ‘Bursting with Energy’ – whoo, ya got that right. There is a big electricity substantiony-kinda place as you drive in on highway and a huge colliery and more power lines everywhere. So much for that Sibelius work I was listening to (not really enjoying but, all a bit too much like hard work, Ol’ Sibelius. I prefer my Finland represented by the lead foot of rally hero Aari Vatenen, the light fingers of architect/designer hero Ero Saarinen and the whoevertheyare fabulous workers at Marrimekko fabric designs. But that is just me).

- Through Singleton, the entrance to the Hunter Valley – wine country. Mmmmmmmmm, wine. Not for me but. Drivey drivey. Kept onto the New England Highway until getting close to Newcastle then swerving off to miss it and just head on home. I am sorry about that cos dockside Newcastle would have been fun. But needs must and home called.

- So I’m heading out on the SydneyNewcastle Highway looking for a love getaway...nooo, a petrol shop actually. And I decide to get all judgey in ‘And Justice for All’ – amemba? The crazy judge who would take his helicopter out just a little farther everyday, testing the limits of his fuel consumption? Til he ends up spluttering into the shallow beach waters, with Al Pacino in tow, when his rig runs outta gas and drops outta the sky? Amemba? Top movie. Welll, I keep on truckin’ on the Highway, and the Mazda is draining draining getting very close to ‘E’. And I decide to visit the double word town of the day - Mooney Mooney (having gone past Kurri Kurri earlier but it was not a standout like Mooney Mooney – keep reading) – cos I read somewhere that it has an excellent little windy bendy isolated drive for a few k’s off the highway. Well. It sure does. And that drive is spectacular – all isolated, and bendy and winding – but I mostly mean ‘spectacular’ in the sense that it is quite a spectacle to find an hysterical wog in a li’ red car, hooning up winding bits and coasting in neutral down winding bits, frightened to the bejusus that the car will just splutter to a stop in the middle of nowhere cos the ‘E’ has now been fully engaged - no gas – and maybe I have erred badly in my ‘And Justice for All’ homage. I terrified a poor cyclist who I happened upon round one bend. He was just wandering along pushing his pushbike, saw me hit the brakes hanging on the horn yelling ‘petrol’ at the top of my lungs. He sweetly told me ‘2k’s on your right’ and I breathed out for the first time in what felt like a half hour (but cannot have been more than 10 or so minutes). I took off, and reinvigorated my idea that ‘E’ does not really mean ‘empty’, there is usually plenty more petrol left in the tank after the ‘E’ gets engaged. I mean, I grew up in a FIAT1500 that could run the trip from the foot of the Macedon hills into Melbourne on the smell of an oily rag. Well, maybe a rag being waved by an oily wog, but you get the picture. And sure ‘nuff, I never need have worried ‘bout the Mazda. My mucho coasting in neutral down the windywindiness was pointless and stopped me enjoying the real fun of the road. Cos the Mazda was fine. It got filled with some obscure optimal unleaded and the money showed there was plenty more gas to go. And it got a quiet hug from me...cos it is so tiny it can be hugged and it is just so darned great it deserves one.

- One authentic Mooney Mooney roadhouse cheeseburger later and we were off, soon to reach the dreadful Pacific Highway back home. Same road as travelled to get outta town, so no need to revisit in this blog post. Except to say the lanes are too skinny and the road surface too patchy to be recommended as a fun driving experience. Mr Carr - rip up this road!

- Home through the tunnel and along the Eastern Distributor and a toot toot into the garage to announce safe arrival after this wierdo road trip that I took pretty much on a whim. But what a whim. Never having driven north of Gosford before this was one eye opening journey. The countryside looked great – granted from recent rains, so I have been fortunate to view it looking lush and not sunburnt – the architecture was inspiring – homes made out of Ironbark fergoodnesssakes – the food was downright odd – crab sandwich anyone? – and and the people uniformly friendly, from servos to bakeries to pubs. And my hosts were just troopers, showing me round. Big hugs to the Horton Lyons Charity Workers who formed the very basis for the trip.

- I am without doubt a better Australian for having made this journey – which means natch I am an improved wog. Thanks so much for all the emails.

- Lastly, I wanted to record what I was listening to throughout the drive. I did manage to get myself finally, after a good year’s looking, a copy of Bryn Ferry’s version of Dylan’s ‘Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’. Did I find it in Murgon? I cannot recall – some country bin had it. Lots of Paul Simon and Glenn Tilbrook and Maria McKee. Lots of country radio. Gomez, Primal Scream, Creedence, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Radney Foster, Billy Joe Shaver, Junior Brown, Lyle Lovett. Lots of ABC Classical radio. Ben Folds Five, Regurgitator, ACDC, Jet, even a bit of the Black Velvet Bush Band. Wilco, Motherhips, Randy Newman, Warren Zevon. Music makes every bit of road, whether dreary or delightful, just that little bit better. And I thought I might try my hand at a bit of musical poetry (would not dare try the galloping meter of A.B Paterson) so here is an adaptation of ‘Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ to commemorate my trip:

Where have you been, ya red-headed wog?
Where have you been, and what’s on your blog?
I've driven to a lookout for the Glass House mountains,
I've walked and I've crawled on Mooloolaba boardwalk,
I've stepped in the middle of the Bunyah State forest,
I've driven past a dozen blue beaches,
I've been two thousand miles in a little red Mazda,

It's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

Oh, what did you see, ya red-headed wog?
What did you see, and did you post on your blog?
I saw a Kingaroy house with rocks all around it,
I saw a long bendy road with no petrol station,
I saw a Tinny Pub with spicy jerky for sale,
I saw a room full of men watch me go to ‘ladies’,
I saw a Bower bird nest all covered with blue things,
I saw a thousand families all proud of their school kids,

And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

What did you hear, ya red-headed wog?
And what did you hear, and what’s on your blog?
I heard the sound of a 38 Ford cruising Sunday,
I heard the roar of a crowd that gave Clarkey applause,
Heard one hundred country songs all of them perfect,
Heard a dozen cows whisper ‘get her’ as I drove by,
I heard one person whine ‘bout the US election,
Heard the sound of a poem on a late night verandah,

And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

Who did you meet, ya red-headed wog?
Who did you meet, and what’s on your blog?
I met an enormous vintner at the famous Crane’s Winery
Met up with a city lawyer living fine up in Buderim,
Met up with a teevee buddy whose parents are golden,
I met the van-folks who sell those Kingaroy Peanuts,
I met one tiny girl who gave me a facial,
I met a man who had the last tank of Optimax,

It's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

Oh, what'll you do now, ya red-headed wog?
What'll you do now, and will you post on your blog?
I'm a-goin' back to work, to the office and long hours',
I'll think of my next trip, down the Great Ocean Road,
I think, maybe to Douglas Harrow in North West Victoria,
But wherever chosen the Mazda will drive it,
Cos no matter four lane, two lane or gravel,
The MX-5 can handle the travel
Where the roads are bendy, straight, smooth or all potholed,
Where red is the color and one is the number,
And I'll thrash it and wash it and I’ll get it all serviced,
I’ll drive with the top down with music a-blarin’,
And I'll fire up the engine and head on the highway,
And I’ll stop for gelato in tiny town by-ways…

And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

It's a hard rain's a gonna fall
It's a hard rain's a gonna fall

Thanks everyone for the kind words about the trip and the posts.

:: WB 11:04 pm [link+] ::

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