Good Friday, driving southwards

Over Easter, I went to Canberra to see my father.

It had been my aim to leave early on Maundy Thursday, but an impending directions hearing in a vexed matter with a very difficult opponent the next Wednesday and a rude letter from their young solicitor full of false issues and accusations which was nicely calculated to wind me into a fury (so difficult to avoid being drawn into this sort of thing!) put paid to that. So, despite vestigial religious scruples, I found myself driving south to Canberra on Good Friday.

The traffic was heavy though fortunately devoid of commercial vehicles and after some protracted crawling at 20-30 kmh past Campbelltown, conditions eventually returned to normal somewhere a bit before the Mittagong turn-off.

“Normal,” these days, really means everyone burling along at close to if not above the speed limit. Except for the very biggest hills or the odd caravan or learner driver, there are very few vehicles now on the road not capable of that: there can certainly be no particular cachet in being able to keep up a good speed. Aside from improvements to vehicles, we have the dual carriageway and the completion of bypasses round every town to thank for that.

I’m grateful for the ease and speed of the trip, but it does make for rather bland driving.

From time to time one sees evidence of the old highway, and even the odd sign leading to it. On previous trips down, not far north of Marulan, I had noticed another sign leading to the old Hume Highway, which then emerged at a subsequent somebody-else-VC picnic spot. [There is an article in the latest Quadrant (browsed in a newsagents: I refuse to give them money) in purported defence of ANZAC and denying that there has been a militarisation of Australian history: I disagree. It and the hijacking of the rest areas for such purposes are symptoms of a revival of military “heritage” which I find decidedly irksome.]

This time, I explored the turn-off. The old road survives as the access to a number of properties. Stoutly constructed (experts could presumably date its construction by the use of concrete in this way, which I think of as a 1940s mode) it is now more than adequate for its present purpose, even as it shows signs of returning to nature.

There are other similar (though less overgrown) stretches of the old Federal Highway between Canberra and Lake George, including some which I distinctly remember from close encounter in long weekend traffic jams as I desperately sought, in the years of my youthful Canberran exile, to escape whenever possible to Sydney.

Then I loathed such winding delays. Now, nostalgia and the lack of necessity, lend a certain charm.

One Response to “Good Friday, driving southwards”

  1. Technical issue – pictures on this blog vertically stretched or horizontally compressed « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] First fix: [actually second edition of first fix now] looking back over older posts, I see that previously they were sized a bit smaller. I’ve reduced them all to 448:252. Earlier pictures, which fit, adopted (I can’t work out exactly how) 450:253 as their dimensions. I’ve done the same with Dulwich Hill Light Rail Community Forum, but not yet Good Friday, driving southwards. […]

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