Road Trippin’

road trip - 1

If you had asked me two weeks ago where I’d most like to be travelling in the world, I’d have said, “Driving along that twisty road beside Lake Garda, through those tunnels, beside the mountains that plunge straight into the lake. Drinking an Aperol Spritz in a bar by the lakeside.”

But I’ve just been road trippin’ in good old Oz.  The charms of Italy notwithstanding, I reckon we had as good a journey through north-eastern Victoria as we’ve had anywhere in the world.

And it was comparatively easy:

  • Pick a primary destination/occasion for motivation – in this case the Bright Autumn Festival
  • Do some Airbnb research a couple of months out and lock in some enticing venues
  • Pack a couple of bags, the esky and your trusty co-pilot
  • Sling the bike on the back of the car
  • Pull out of your driveway and point the car south.

No passports, visas, hep A-B-C shots, foreign currency or just-in-case antibiotics required.   No airport transfers, security checks or dealing with yet another public transport system.  You just leave.

You can take your choice of scooting down the freeway or taking roads less travelled.  Google Maps will show you three different ways and the time differentials in following one or the other.  We took the fastest way just to get out of town, even though the Hume is a pretty boring (though efficient) drive these days with every town along the way by-passed.

After a few magical days in Bright we opted for the back tracks; that plan took us on roads with a “C” prefix which seem to guarantee a continuing vista of classic Australian rural countryside, and the blink-and-you-miss-them small towns.  Through places with intriguing names like Wandiligong and Violet Town.  Along gunbarrel-straight stretches where there won’t be a bend for 30 k’s and the speed limit is, unofficially, at your discretion.

Here are a few surprises we uncovered about the joys of road tripping in rural and regional Oz:

  • Everywhere we stayed had at least one craft brewery – you can map your trail by the beer you’ve drunk.
  • “Cellar door” has gone beyond wine – we picked up olives, olive oil, pickles, jams, cheese. Oh, and wine of course.
  • Good coffee is becoming ubiquitous – any place with more than a few hundred people seems now able to support a caffeine infrastructure. Try that in Europe.
  • You can bring all kinds of stuff home with you, rather than being restricted to the 2 litres of singe malt from the duty free on the way back into the country, or paying the ridiculous price of Fed-Exing.
  • Victoria in particular has a fantastic array of rail trails that encourage exploratory but laid-back bike riding.

Once upon a time, all we could afford (and all we wanted) was to strap the surfboards onto the roof of the VW, cram in a tent and and a couple of the boys, and take off.  Recapturing just a little of that was, perhaps, the best part of all.

rail trail - 1

Rail Trailin’

Photos by David

 

 

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