A road trip has to have a destination, even though by its very nature it’s a journey where getting there is what it is all about. Motels and cabins, ice-cream cones drippy in the hot wind on a sleepy afternoon main street, the mandatory fish and chips on a park bench in some place you wished you could stay forever.
I planned our January road trip route; selfishly squeezing in places I wanted to be again, roads less travelled I wanted to see, a visit to a special Aunt and ultimately a dip in the great blue ocean.
From Jameison down the Midland Highway with her stately Hans Heysen gums and winding rivers, over to the Ovens Valley and across the gap to the Kiewa, past farms wedged into the valleys and contented looking cattle. A night in Mt Beauty with my old friend Sarah, and then up the mountain and over the back. A windy lunch by the dam and a walk into Wallace’s hut, protected in her little glade of gums, lucky survivor of the fires that have left silver hillsides everywhere.
Over the back of the range, to a special corner where rivers run down into Gippsland, where fishermen come and cyclists travel through, where cattleman sadly no longer pass. The Blue Duck Inn at Angler’s Rest, with her vine covered verandah’s and half kilo steaks, cosy rustic cabins and lawn rolling down to the Cobungra River.
Onward toward Canberra, down the Omeo Highway toward Tallangatta, a beautiful road I’ve never driven, through the mythical Mitta Mitta and a great swimming spot, pies and sandwiches by the river. A night at the Khancoban pub where we used to stay with dad on our skiing pilgrimages, a swim in the pool and a couple of good chicken parmies. Cooked breakfast and back into the car and on through the mountains, past Tom Groggin station where as a teenager full of Elynne Mitchel stories and love of the mountains I dreamed I might one day live, up the chairlift at Thredbo, the smell of Alpine grass and the squeals of delight at the summer snow drifts.
Down that bare stretch of highway from Cooma to Canberra, reinforced by ice-cream and the discovery of an open bric a brac shop. Two days of warmth and laughter with Margie and my Canberra cousins. Back down the Monaro Highway, all the way this time, from the high plains down to the sea at Eden, where the sky cleared and the warm sand was waiting.