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Almost Coast to Coast Drive in Australia Part 1
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Joined: 18 Oct 2008
Posts: 1142
Location: 100 miles from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2014 12:09 pm    Post subject: Almost Coast to Coast Drive in Australia Part 1 Reply with quote

We live just 430 kilometers (267 miles) from the East coast of state of Victoria. Early on Sunday morning the 25th of May, my wife and I set off in our most modern car, a 1982 Rover S.E.2 (SD1) for a bit of a drive, but towards the West.

We had planned the trip for a while, and had the car packed with all requirements including tinned and packed food, drinks, tools and spares such as radiator hoses, as well as some Rover P4 parts to be taken to our destination city.

Leaving at 6.00 a.m. on Sunday was decided in order to get through Melbourne while there was a minimum of traffic. We had a good run to the City, but fell foul at a detour for the Ballarat Road. Why oh why do detour signs have to be so small and poorly located? Some ancient local knowledge plus a slice of luck found us back on the right road after a while.

The highway to Ballarat is four lanes and divided, so we had a nice clear run. We paused at the little town of Ballan, as years ago we used that as a break of journey when we lived in the area.

On we went again, stopping to refuel on the outskirts of Ballarat. The road beyond here reduces to two lanes, one for each direction, in other words a fairly usual sort of country road.

We reached the town of Ararat, about 300k's from home at a few minutes before 12.00. After looking over the old railway station and collecting information from the tourist information center housed there, we enjoyed the cut lunch that my wife had prepared, the re-mounted and set off once more.

With the odometer reading 638k's (396 miles) we reached the South Australian border, and had to display the car with its front feet in S.A. and its back legs still in Victoria.

Just 18 k's further on we came to the aptly named Bordertown, where we booked into a tourist cabin for the night. We had completed 656 k's (407 miles) in a fairly leisurely nine hours.

While Noreen (my wife) stayed in the cabin and prepared our evening repast, I toddled off to a service station to fill the petrol tank, then returned and performed my regular evening checks of oil and other vital automotive fluids.

The proximity of the highway with heavy trucks passing at regular intervals, interspersed with regular passing freight trains made for a somewhat disturbed night, but we had planned to be up early anyway, so rose at 5.00 and were all ready to set off again at 6 o'clock. It was, of course dark (Winter in the Southern Hemisphere) and there was light rain, but fortunately traffic was very light so good progress was made. We refuelled at Tailem Bend to make sure of getting through Adelaide without having to search for a petrol station, then motored on to Murray Bridge where the highway again became a four (sometimes six) lane road sweeping through the Murray River plains before climbing into the Adelaide Hills.

This is a new road since our 1975 trip in the Model A Ford, and well I remembered the careful use of brakes required descending the hills into Adelaide, and on the return the steady grind, often in 2nd gear to get back up and over them. No so with this trip, but the hills are still very steep in places. The final descent passes through a tunnel and then deposits you right on the edge of the City.

I had worked out a route to by-pass the center of Adelaide, and given Noreen the printed instructions so she could navigate us through, but 9.00 a.m. is not a good time to try to negotiate City traffic, and in places it was a bumper to bumper crawl. Noreen instructed me that the next turn should be to the right, so I carefully maneuvered the car into the correct lane and we found ourselves behind a caravan bearing Western Australian number plates. Reasoning that he might be heading home, we followed through the turn and found signs indicating Port Augusta 287 k's ahead, so we knew all was well.

As soon as we could, we pulled off the road to settle ourselves after the difficulties of the City. We also had a relaxing drink, then set off again. With our destination for the day not too far away, we could take our time, and stopped off at the small town of Dublin, then on again to Port Wakefield for another fuel stop.

We paused at the tiny hamlet of Lochiel where we had our cut lunch. Obviously the place was named by a kilted gent. There is a 'loch' by the name of Bumbunga Lake, and there is its very own monster, by name the Loch Eel.

We passed by several small towns, and avoided Port Pirie as we had called in there last year, however we did pause for a drink at a wayside stop near Merriton, where there were cleverly made seats created using railway wheels. There was also other railway paraphernalia there.

We later turned off the main road to visit Port Germaine, a lovely seaside town. The ports along this coast, although mostly small were very important in the days before railways, as through them the produce, mostly wheat and wool, was shipped to either main-city ports or shipped directly to distant countries, mainly the U.K.

At one time Port Germain boasted the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. The current one is a mere shadow of the former, but still possesses quite a length.

We were soon off again, and by 2.30 were in Port Augusta, booking in to a cabin in the same caravan park as we had last year on our Alice Springs excursion.

Because we were at this destination quite early, after fuelling the car and doing the usual checks, we ventured to the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens nearby, and enjoyed viewing the flora displayed there.

Just on sunset we also saw these cliffs, first recorded by Matthew Flinders during his voyages of discovery in 1803.

So ended the second day of our trip, with the day's run being 613 k's (381 miles), so we had a good evening meal, prepared from supplies, and a much quieter night than the last one.

Part 2 is now posted here-
Dane- roverdriver but not a Viking.

Last edited by roverdriver on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 20826
Location: North-west UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2014 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for putting that all together Dane, look forward to Part II. Coincidentally we passed a Rover SD1 on the road a few days ago, first time in many-a-year I've seen one outside of a showground.

Rick (OCC Admin)
Various 1920s-1960s - Austin, Morris, Commer, Dodge etc.
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Riley Blue

Joined: 18 Jun 2008
Posts: 1728
Location: Derbyshire

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2014 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I wouldn't give to live in a country where such a drive was possible! The best I can manage is taking three days London to Edinburgh stopping off at Wetherby and Carlisle...

Looking forward to Part 2.

1963 Riley 1.5
1965 Riley 1.5
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