Road Trip Hume Highway

I love town slogans. On a trip to Bland to visit the Bland Museum a few years back (don’t ask), the ones I remember were: Albury – A Proud Seat Belt Wearing Community; Gympie – Free Regulated Parking; and Narrandera – Home Of The World’s Largest Playable Guitar. It’s no wonder they call this place the lucky country.

I love travel. Just thinking about my suitcase makes my heart race. Airports make me incredibly frisky. Don’t pretend like I’m the only person who requests a cavity search at Tullamarine. After dropping off a friend. For a domestic flight. To Mildura. Stuff it. I pay my taxes.

Mile-high club? I’m just happy if I’m on tip-toes, my head’s thrown back, my knees are trembling and a bloke called Glen from Diggers Rest is flicking his rubber gloves.

”Ask me what flight I just arrived on. And where I’ll be disembarking. Do I have anything to declare? Actually I do. You smell like Brut 33 and dim sims. Ask me if I packed my bag myself. And where I’m travelling to. Yes! Yes! I’m almost there. Don’t stop …”

The smell of my passport makes me vibrate with excitement. When I die I want to be reincarnated as Catriona Rowntree.

Just without the ersatz warmth, fake bubbliness and that ”my life is a dream come true!” look I want to slap right off her smug, self-satisfied face.

I love travel, but I’m not that keen on holidays. My favourite holiday is work. Which any parent will understand.

Last week’s drag up the Hume found me trawling for a place to break up the 800 kilometres. Sussing out the possibilities it dawned on me the term ”gateway” is code for ”it’s a hole”. Basically we’re shit, but we’re close to a place that isn’t.

I thought about stopping in Holbrook! Premier Driver Reviver Town! Halfway on the Hume! (We have a submarine! Please stay! Or take us with you. Come back. Please! We’ll do anything.) Or Tarcutta: Home Of The Nation’s Only Truck Driver Memorial. The evening we drown through there was ‘stew’ on in the ‘bistro’ for ‘tea’. Grouse!

We ended up staying in Gundagai. Why? Because it’s not every day you give your kids an unforgettable forgetfulness experience. ”That’s the dog on the tuckerbox, boys; don’t worry if you miss it, you won’t remember it anyway.”

Which was preceded by the once-in-a-lifetime experience of eating the worst toasted sandwich on earth served by the saddest people in the universe. We ended the night with dinner (dinner as in tea) at the Gundagai restaurant (restaurant as in roadhouse), the only place in the world where fish and chips is under the heading ”light meals”. It was very Wolf Creek.

The motel had an exterior festooned with wagon wheels and an interior with a nautical theme. With ”ironing board”, ”ashtray” and ”kettle” listed under luxury features, and toast arriving in small white waxed bags, its slogan should be ”Australia’s favourite crime scene”.

We’re holidaying in a place called Manyana, which is Spanish for tomorrow. Which is of no use because I don’t even know what today is. So basically we’re time travelling.

”Wait until you go back to school and tell your mates you holidayed in THE FUTURE. An ice-cream from the shop? Tomorrow. What do you mean we’re already in tomorrow. Someone’s been overdosing on mummy’s smart-arse pills.”

Just in case you were wondering, in Manyana (aka THE FUTURE) there are chenille bedspreads, washing machines that attempt to walk out the door when they agitate, grillers that burn your eyebrows off when you light them, board games with missing pieces, no decent cutting knives but 10 shit ones, and wood panelling peeling off the kitchen cabinets.

It’s like a student house, just without a bong. But near a beach.

Wish you were here.

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