Today we embarked on a short road trip. We are driving to Melbourne and together with our son, his wife and two grandsons, continuing on to Phillip Island a mere 2,000 km away. It’s been a long time since we were last travelling across Australia and as usual we find ourselves going against the flow. As we head South towards Melbourne the road, in the opposite direction, appears to be a super highway for Annual Grey Nomads , a term I coined for the older southerners who make the annual pilgrimage north to escape the cold, wet, Melbourne winter.
If it wasn’t a 4x4 towing a caravan with a tinnie (a colloquial term for a small aluminium boat) on the roof heading north then it was road train. A road train are semi-trailers with 2, 3 or sometimes even 4 trailers in tow and can vary in length from about 27.5 m (90 ft) to 53.5 m (176 ft). Combined, they make up about 90% of traffic we encountered.
We have travelled nearly 500 km today from Brisbane to Moree. At one point, as we were flying down the Newell Highway (speed limit 110 k.p.h.), there appeared to be a slow moving road train ahead of us in the distance until, as we got closer, we discovered that it was actually barrelling towards us on our side of the road, overtaking three other road trains in its path. We almost became some grotesque hood ornament on its 2 m high radiator grill before I pointed out to hubby that it was in our lane and on a collision course with us. Two vehicles travelling towards each other at 110 k.p.h would give an effective impact velocity of 220 k.p.h., if both vehicles were of the same size and mass, but the road train was probable somewhere between 20-30 times the size and mass of our new Prius. I didn’t actually have time to do the maths as too the likely outcome before Hubby fairly stood up on the brakes, pulled as far onto the shoulder as possible without hitting any trees as the triple trailer road train whooshed past us. Our vehicle veritably shuddered in its wake as it careened down the centre line of the highway pushing another road train onto the opposite shoulder.
And we lived to tell the tale….only another 1500 km to Melbourne. Let’s hope they are not as harrowing.