The long drive down
WARNING: This is not work-related, but I drove down on Sunday and there was not much of anything that was relevant to work.
It was pretty uneventful, even a bit dull, but less dull in NSW where they were doing roadworks every 10 km. And for those who haven’t done this trip in a while, the new Albury bypass is now open, so you just breeze through the border towns at 110 km/h. This was later to cause the only interesting part of the second half because I missed the usual Caltex petrol station in Albury and there are no big service centres yet on the bypass.
So, I charged on to Melbourne confident that the range remaining indicator which said over 340 km to go in Albury would get me to the outskirts of Melbourne where I knew there was another Caltex. Of course I could have just bought some petrol at another station (but who wants to use money when they have a Caltex card?) and I could also have turned off and gone to a side town or even turned around and crossed the highway for a Caltex on the other side, but really?
Even though the Victorian Police can pick you up for thinking about going over the speed limit (whilst you can gun down a few former friends in Carlton and freely get away with it), backing off the throttle and using the cruise control religiously didn’t seem to extend my range to the point at which I could relax. In fact, as I got closer to Melbourne I found myself doing things like reducing my cruise speed even more (which enabled old Kelvinators with wheels to overtake) and shouting out “Its touch and go! Touch and go!” (because I found that scene in the recent movie Death at a Funeral particularly amusing. I began to regret some minor throttle adjustments I that had made between the endless NSW roadworks to keep up my average speed.
Soon the range indicator just told me that the range was limited and then the patrol gauge started to flash regular warnings about the same matter, as if I’d been ignoring it!
The needle barely registered any life at all and I decided to pull into any establishment selling petrol as soon as I saw one, but as I cruised down the hill into somewhere near Wallan, less than 40 km from Melbourne city, a huge Caltex station magically appeared and I was able to drive all the way to the pump without phoning either the RACV or Alfa Road Assist. The 60 litre tank took just on 58 litres, so obviously I’d been panicking for nothing and needn’t have worried.
I filled up, consulted the Melways and charged onwards towards the maze of tollways, freeways and bridges that surround the city. I skillfully managed to take the correct turn off from the Westgate Freeway after the Bolte bridge, but then paid the ultimate price for making one unplanned turn in Southbank (within a block of my accommodation) and immediately found myself heading north east, out of the city, on something called the Monash Freeway. The first exit was somewhere near Burnley and then I had to circumnavigate Richmond and South Yarra to get back to Southbank.
It didn’t matter, I was now in Melbourne: the most civilised city in Oz.